As Houston heats up, here’s how to control summer energy costs

Note: This is the second in our series of posts sponsored by Reliant. They’re covering our site for the entire 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, and in return we’re writing a handful of posts that highlight their services to readers. Today’s post concerns air conditioning efficiency and other tips to keep you (somewhat) cool this summer.

Houston has had an easy slide into summer this year, as we haven’t yet reached the upper 90s. But we all know what’s coming later in July and August, and the time to make sure your home and AC are prepared for deep summer heat is now. (Last year’s first 100-degree day came on July 23). The last thing you want is your AC to go out on the hottest day of the year.


Tip #1: Be efficient

Take control of your costs by following the four-by-four principle for your AC. Set your thermostat four degrees higher when you’re away from home for more than four hours to help reduce electricity usage and costs. When your thermostat is set below 78 degrees, each degree cooler can increase your costs by up to seven percent.

Switch your ceiling fan to turn counter-clockwise during the summer months to create a wind chill effect when coupled with cool air from your AC, for a more comfortable living environment. However, remember to turn off fans when you leave the room. Fans are for people—not for rooms.

Resist the urge to override your automatic AC fan settings. Set your AC fan to the “auto” rather than “on” position. The “on” setting can increase energy costs and cause heat from the attic to transfer into your living space through the ductwork, making the AC work harder to maintain your desired temperature.

Use a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature to fit your schedule and conserve energy, not to mention help prevent mold that thrives in hotter, humid temperatures.

Tip #2: Change your air filters

Replacing filters regularly helps your system operate more efficiently and can prolong the life of your AC equipment. Reliant even delivers AC filters right to your door with Reliant Filters Made Easy, one less item for your checklist. Also, while changing your filters, be sure and check that you’re not obstructing the return air vents with furniture, or other items.

Tip #3: Properly insulate your home

A house without enough insulation can lose up to 40 percent of cooled air, and more than 80 percent of homes built prior to 1980 do not have enough insulation. This is the most cost-effective home improvement that can be made, as conventional insulation is relatively inexpensive.

Tip #4: Get Your HVAC Checked Out

Reliant’s home services, which are available to everyone, not just Reliant customers, to help keep you comfortable. They service air conditioning, heating (admittedly, probably not a priority right now), plumbing, electrical and more. During an AC checkuplicensed HVAC professional checks multiple points in your system, and inspects all components and parts and find out if you’re getting enough cool air to rooms.

2 thoughts on “As Houston heats up, here’s how to control summer energy costs

  1. SkyGuy

    Eric, as I said last post, a backdoor front from the NE is expected to sag southward into SE Tx on Sunday. I have some concerns about potentially stronger storms ahead of it, assuming that it is related to the same system that is causing destructive storms over the Midwest and Northern Plains. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

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