By Elizabeth Crawford
With rising temperatures, longer days, and stuffy houses, summers in Texas may seem to be the most difficult time to efficiently consume energy at home.
“If you could take an infrared picture of a house, you would see that energy is being lost in every window,” says Barbara Holley, interior designer and owner of Holley’s Window Fashions and Interiors. Window treatments keep windows insulated and are a commonly overlooked solution to energy conservation during the summer. Window shades and shadings are the best choice because of their full coverage of incoming light. Although blinds and shutters have a small amount of light leak, anything is better than no coverage, she adds.
Shades are considered by some to be more fashionable than wood blinds as well. With hard surfaces like wood floors and granite countertops usually covering the majority of homes today, window shades add a contrasting touch and soften up a room. Interior trends are moving away from two-inch blinds and towards window shades and shadings. Window shades can be up to twice as expensive as wood blinds, but they will ultimately be worth it in the long run, Holley says.
Another energy saving feature of window shades are the electronic and wireless capabilities. Certain shades currently on the market can be controlled electronically and programmed on timers to conserve energy. Some shades can even be operated via smart phone or iPad from anywhere; if you’re away from home and forgot to pull the shades down, you can remedy the issue with a touch of your phone.
Another commonly overlooked solution to keep your home cooler during the summer is through your choice of lighting, Holley says. Choose light bulbs that are cooler, such as LEDs, to reduce heat and lower energy consumption. According to the State Energy Conservation Office website, new lighting technologies can reduce lighting energy use in your home up to 75 percent.
Child & Pet Safety
Newer models of window treatments are also made with child and pet safety in mind. Long, dangling cords can be major safety hazards, and companies are changing designs to be controlled through the use of wands or electronic control systems. People who have window treatments that are not cordless should either cut the strings as short as they can or have them safely secured to a wall, Holley advises.
“It’s amazing what people are doing nowadays,” says Holley. Keeping your home cool in brutal Texas summers doesn’t have to drain your bank account or waste energy.
Texas summers bring endless heat, and keeping one’s home cool is a top priority. The US Department of Energy’s website gives useful tips on how to conserve energy while still keeping cool during the hot months.
Operate your thermostat efficiently by setting the temperature as high as comfortably possible while you are home and keeping it even warmer while you are away. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
Using ceiling fans will create a wind chill effect that allows you to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees Fahrenheit with no decrease in comfort.
Keep your cooling system running efficiently by scheduling regular maintenance on air conditioner filters, coils, and fins. Avoid placing heat-generating appliances near your thermostat, which will make your air conditioner run longer than necessary.
For more information on saving energy at home, visit www.energy.gov.