With summer just around the corner, Portland homeowners may have their eye on a new air conditioning unit. Is this the year for it?
While most Portland residents enjoy a few hot days and take advantage of the opportunity to go to the beach or the river, in the coming years those activities may not cut it for beating the heat. According to a 2017 report by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, a network of 150 Oregon climate scientists, summers are just going to get hotter in Portland. “Oregon can expect warmer temperatures year round with greater warming during the summer… In the future, extreme heat events are expected to increase in frequency, duration, and intensity due to warming temperatures.”
Portland’s home energy assessment requirement may be on your mind if you’re considering the best ways to cool your home this summer. An air conditioning unit might be tempting, but buying an inefficient model may negatively impact your Home Energy Score. On the other hand, investing in a cooling system now may pay off when you put your home on the market. Follow this simple guide to smart home cooling and save money while improving your home’s efficiency!
- Take steps to reduce the “cooling load”. If you’re preparing your home to be assessed for a home energy score, you might have already looked into and implemented some of the strategies for making your home more efficient: updating wall and attic insulation, insulating ducts, stopping air leaks, and investing in high-performance windows. These steps will keep your home cooler without using an AC unit. In addition, upgrading to energy efficient light bulbs and appliances can cut down on heat production in the home, not to mention saving you a lot of money.
- Install fans. Fans use less energy than AC units and can extend the comfortable temperature range of your home. For example, most people feel comfortable at temperatures between 72 and 78 F, but moving air can feel comfortable at temperatures up to 82 degrees F. Ceiling fans can also improve heating efficiency in the winter months. To learn more, go to SmarterHouse.org. Not as well know, but a very effective cooling system, is a whole home attic fan. Look them up!
- Consider a ductless mini-split system. Central air conditioners use a home’s existing duct system to move cool air through the home, but not every room needs cool air. A mini-split unit works in a similar way to a standard split-system air conditioner, but is built to cool a smaller portion of the home, blowing cold air directly into the room in which it is produced.
- Get the right rating. If you still need to go for a full air conditioning unit for your home, keep your Home Energy Score assessment in mind. It all comes down to ratings. Energy Star rates central air conditioners with an EER or SEER number, which compares how much cold air the unit produces to how much energy it uses. The higher the SEER or EER, the more efficient the unit. Anything below a 15 SEER or 11.3 EER will trigger a replacement recommendation on your Home Energy Score. Check out the top-rated Energy Star units here.