By Mary Boone
SEATTLE (Zillow) As temperatures rise, it's common for utility bills to do the same.
A whole-house makeover isn't necessary to begin generating energy savings this summer. Even the simplest changes can save you some serious dough in no time.
Want your air conditioner to run as efficiently and inexpensively as possible? Be sure to put "clean filters" at the top of your to-do list.
Dirty filters significantly block airflow and reduce a system's efficiency. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Clean your filter and you can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15 percent.
For central air conditioners, filters are generally located along the return duct's length. Room air conditioners have filters mounted in the grills that face into your house.
Some filters are reusable; others must be replaced. Clean or replace your air-conditioning system's filter or filters monthly during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is subjected to dusty conditions or you have pets.
Just as it keeps your house warm in the winter, insulation can help keep your home cool in the summer. Insulation can reduce heating and cooling costs as much as 20 percent, according to Energy Star.
If you're only going to insulate one place, look upward. Attic temperatures can soar to 140 degrees or higher in the summer. That heat will radiate down into your home. Insulation can stop that flow of heat and keep your main living space cooler in summer.
Shade those windows
Shades and blinds won't actually reduce air leakage, but they can play a huge role in saving energy.
Awnings, for example, can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows. Awnings require ventilation to keep hot air from becoming trapped around the window. Consider installing adjustable or retractable awnings so that sun is allowed to warm the house in cooler months.