Tackle energy-efficient exterior home maintenance projects this summer

A large portion of a home’s energy bill in the summertime comes from air conditioning. Reducing how often you run the AC can indeed save energy, but there are other things can be done to keep a home cooler while using less energy. Turn your attention to the exterior of your home with these energy and cost-saving measures.

Seal air leaks. Cool air will escape a home if unwanted gaps in windows, doors and siding remain untreated. Inspect the foundation of your home for cracks or where two different building materials meet (outdoor faucets, locations where foundation and exterior siding meet, dryer exhaust vents, etc.). Caulking and weatherstripping will help reduce the amount of the cool air that escapes.

Paint or roof using a light color. Much like wearing a light-colored shirt outdoors will help reflect some of the sun’s rays away, a house painted or roofed with light colors will absorb less of the sun’s heat. Roofs that are white or coated with special reflective materials are ideal at doing this. In fact, these roofs can be more than 50 degrees cooler than ones with darker shingles or coatings.

Plant trees or shrubs. The shade from trees and shrubs cool the home and the air surrounding it. The difference in temperature can be as much as nine degrees cooler. There are many ways to landscape for energy efficiency, depending upon where you live. For best results, make sure to research what plants work best for your part of South Dakota. Also, be mindful of planting trees that will grow near power lines.

Regularly maintain your central air conditioning unit. The central air unit will run more efficiently if it and the area surrounding it are properly cleaned and maintained. Remove any debris or plant growth at least two feet away from the outdoor condenser. Also, clean off any dirt or debris that has collected on the evaporator coil. Any accumulation on the coils insulates it, reducing its ability to absorb heat. Having it inspected and maintained annually by a professional will also help it run at its best.

Some information provided by Energy Savers