The Northwest summer is late this year, but when it comes we’ll be scurrying to figure out how to get cool and stay energy efficient too. This month we have ways to cool your house that don’t involve something loud hanging in your window. And a helpful piece about keeping cool by checking your ductwork.
If you’re ready to upgrade from your window air conditioner to something better, there are lots of choices. Here are 6 ways you can get cool and some may surprise you.
1. Heat pumps. Heat in the winter and cool in the summer.
Ductless heat pumps can offer 25% energy cost savings vs electric heat, and provide air conditioning too. These systems are modular and can be installed to affect one room, or provide whole home heating and cooling. And they are soooo quiet. They’re especially good for old homes where only part of the house has ducting. You’ll get big rebates from most utilities and qualify for federal tax credits.
Forced air heat pumps also heat and cool. They cool by moving heat from the inside out. While they might not make your home meat locker cool, the mix of year round use and our mild weather makes them a good choice for the Northwest. Manufacturers say you can save 30% on overall costs to heat / cool your home. Most utilities have rebates. In fact PSE Electric customers who replace their electric furnace with a forced air heat pump can get $1000. Plus federal energy tax credits of up to $300 are available.
2. Solar Attic Fans
Hot air rises and attic fans sit on the roof pulling out the hot air. A solar powered attic fan is even more energy efficient. There’s no wiring needed, it installs into your roof with flashing around it. These attic fans are made to withstand our tough weather conditions, even winds up to 170mph, and can be a great cooling solution. These are especially good for multi-story dwellings. While you won’t get as cool as with central air, it will remove heat and lower temperatures in your home.
Most people think of insulation as keeping you warm in the winter, like a parka. Insulating and sealing your house will keep heat transfer from happening, whether its heat loss or gain. Insulation can be a cost effective way to get energy savings and keep a bit cooler. If your home is shaded and is cool in the mornings, it will hold that cool longer. Most utilities have generous rebates to get you in the mood to insulate. PSE offers up to $800. Plus federal tax credits of up to $500 are available.
4. The Right Windows
EnergyStar® says that “recent technological advances have improved the thermal performance of windows”, including insulated framing materials, low E glass, solar control coatings, double or triple panes with low conductance gas fills in between, improved edge spacers and better sealing techniques. When combined with installation techniques that ensure the best fit, these can improve energy efficiency of the home up to 25%. There’s still a federal tax credit of up to $200 for windows and $500 for exterior doors. Great article: http://www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/HighPerformanceWindows1-17-01.pdf
In Seattle, Washington Energy Services carries a wide range of energy efficient windows. Take a look.
5. Central Air Conditioning
Energy efficient central air conditioning systems keep the whole house comfortable whatever the heat outside. If you have existing ducts, central air could be an easy addition to make. These systems pair well with high efficiency furnaces. Some qualify for federal tax credits.
6. Go Old School
The low tech way to keep your house cool is to keep your blinds and windows closed on the side of the house that the sun is hitting. For cross breeze, open doors or windows that are in shade. Open windows at night to let cool air in. Make sure your ceiling fan blade size is big enough for your room (eg: for 400 sq ft room use a 52” blade span). Fans create wind, they don’t actually cool, but they’ll make it feel 5-10 degrees cooler by making your perspiration evaporate faster.
Learn more about cooling your house with new Windows, Insulation, a Heat Pump or Central Air Conditioning by calling 800 398 4663 or visit www.Washingtonenergy.com
Check out available Utility Rebates and Federal Tax Credits.