Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Residential Energy Savers: Cooling Tips

Although your first thought for cooling may be air conditioning, there are many alternatives that can keep your home comfortable in the summer with less energy use. A combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, daylighting, shading, and ventilation will usually keep homes in Snohomish County cool, with a low amount of energy use.

Explore the tips below for free and low-cost upgrades, as well as smart investments you can make to improve the comfort of your home this summer or increase the efficiency of your air conditioning system operations.

No-Cost Tips

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Close the blinds

Closing your blinds, shades or curtains on warm days keeps the sun’s rays out and helps keep your home cool. If you have air conditioning it can also help you save energy, blocking as much as 45% of the sun’s warmth and reducing the load on your AC system.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per summer bill, about $31 each summer

Cost: FREE

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Turn your thermostat up to 78 degrees

If you have central air conditioning, turn the thermostat up to 78 degrees when you’re home and 84 degrees when you’re not. You can save between 3% to 5% in home cooling costs for every degree you raise it.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per summer bill, about $31 each summer

Cost: FREE

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Keep the AC flowing

If you have furniture in front of your central air vents or window AC unit, you could be blocking the cool air they're trying to deliver. Each spring, check to be sure they're not blocked and vacuum the unit or have the vents cleaned.

Savings: up to 105 kWh* per summer bill, about $32 each summer

Cost: FREE

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Use small appliances in the kitchen

Use a crock pot, toaster oven, or microwave instead of your full-sized range or oven to keep your home cooler and save energy. These small appliances use only 20-50% of the energy needed to cook the same meal on your stove top or oven.

Savings: up to 60 kWh* per bill, about $37 each year

Cost: FREE

*Assumes the average Snohomish County family uses a small appliance instead of the range/oven 50% of the time.

Low-Cost Tips

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Plant deciduous shade trees

Planting shade trees on the southwest and southeast corners of your home will keep you home cooler during the summer months. If you have air conditioning, shade trees can reduce your cooling needs by 20-100% depending on the size and type of tree and the design of your home. Trees deliver more than a cooler home though, they also help clean the air and increase the curb appeal of your home.

Savings: up to 300 kWh* per summer bill, about $92 each summer

Cost: varies

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Add exterior window awnings

Exterior window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per summer bill, about $31 each summer

Cost: $50 - $300 per window

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Help your AC unit breathe

In order to keep the cool air flowing, clean or replace the air filters regularly. It’s also important to keep the area around the outside compressor free of weeds and debris – check each spring before you turn on the AC for the first time. You'll improve your air quality as well as save energy.

Savings: up to 90 kWh* per summer bill, about $28 each summer

Cost: $2-10 per filter, FREE to clean the space around the outside compressor

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Have your AC unit serviced

Have a professional clean and inspect your central AC unit every other spring to ensure that it is tuned and ready for the summer. You’ll save energy and extend the life of your system.

Savings: up to 90 kWh* per summer bill, about $28 each summer

Cost: approximately $150

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning. 

Upgrade to an electronic thermostat

Installing an electronic thermostat(s) makes it easier to be sure that your home is heated efficiently. The thermostat can automatically change the temperature based on the schedule and settings that you create.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per summer bill, about $31 each summer

Cost: FREE

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with central air conditioning.

Add a ceiling fan or standing fan

Ceiling fans are an energy efficient option for cooling the spaces you use the most. Installing and using an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan can make you feel 6 degrees cooler and save you energy over using an air conditioning system.

Using a ceiling fan to circulate the air can lower both your cooling (if you have air conditioning) and heating costs. If you have air conditioning, a ceiling fan may eliminate the need to use the AC completely on all but the hottest days.

Savings: varies

Cost: varies

*For the average SnohomishCounty single family home with air conditioning.

Inspect the seal on your window AC unit

With time, the seal around your window air conditioner can degrade, allowing freshly cooled air to escape back outside. Inspect the seal each spring and replace it if needed. Consult the dealer or hardware store for assistance.

Savings: up to 40 kWh* per summer bill, about $12 each summer

Cost: varies

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with air conditioning.

Smart Investment Tips

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Choose a heat pump

If you need to replace, or install, air conditioning consider getting an air source or geothermal heat pump instead of a central AC unit. You’ll save significant energy for both cooling and heating your home since a heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 50-60%.

The PUD offers incentives to qualifying customers who replace an electric furnace or baseboard/wall heaters with an efficient heat pump. Get the details.

Savings: up to 1,150 kWh* per winter bill if replacing an electric furnace (about $352 each winter); up to 335 kWh* winter per bill if replacing an older inefficient air source heat pump (about $103 each winter).

Cost: $$$

*For the average Snohomish County single family home with electric heat. 

Choose an ENERGY STAR air-conditioning unit.

If you need to replace, or install, an air conditioning unit be sure to choose an ENERGY STAR rated model. You can find a list of qualified models at the ENERGY STAR website; central units and room units.

Savings: up to 85 kWh* per summer bill, about $26 each summer

Cost: varies

*As compared to a non-ENERGY-STAR-qualified model.