Cheap, easy changes to keep your home cool

Published: Jun. 15, 2017 at 5:29 PM CDT
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Storms moving across central Kansas Thursday evening won't bring much relief to the heat. Highs will be around triple digits for the next couple of days, and rebound after Father's Day.

One energy expert shares his advice on the most effective ways to keep your home cool without shelling out the cash, and make this heat wave a little more bearable.

John Nicholas, or "The Energy Guy," audits homes to see where you're losing money on heating and cooling.

He says one of the biggest things you can do is reduce what's called "internal gains" - stuff inside your house that increases the temperature.

That means avoid things like using the stove, oven, dishwasher, or washer and drier, and avoid running hot water for a long time. The plus side? It's a good excuse to put off those chores.

Another big source of heat inside comes from light bulbs. People sometimes neglect to change the high-wattage bathroom lights to something more energy efficient, like CFL or LED bulbs. Nicholas says the energy efficient bulbs generate about 10 percent of the heat of traditional bulbs.

A test with the heat gun showed that after just two minutes with the bathroom light on, the wall temperature near the lights increased from 81 to 87 degrees.

"And that wall will hold the heat. It takes time for that to cool," Nicholas said. "Changing your bulbs will make a big difference."

He also says dirty air vents can be a sign that air filters need to be changed. Clean filters keep an AC unit running more efficiently, which means it'll cost you less money to stay cool.

We all know keeping the blinds closed helps keep things cool but make sure to flip your blinds in the best direction, to keep the sun out.

If you have drafty windows, window insulator plastic doesn't just work at keeping the cold out - it can help keep the heat out too.

Nicholas says, any fans in your house, keep them running. And that includes the fans in the bathroom.

"Get rid of that moisture. Otherwise your air conditioner gets to take it out, and that's a lot more expensive than your exhaust fan," Nicholas said.

Nicholas also recommends sleeping with your bedroom doors open at night to help the air better circulate throughout the home.

As for the thermostat, Westar says don't change the temperature more than a few degrees a day. Because something like an 8-10 degree swing will make your unit work harder and increase your costs.