The Community Action Agency of Butte County, Inc. has been a reliable provider of beneficial energy efficiency measures in the homes of thousands of residents for over 35 years.
We love living in our Northern California community, however our summers are notoriously hot and dry. This year is also expected to be accompanied by a drought.
Here are 5 simple and effective steps to make sure your home is ready for our 100+ degree weather while also being water conscious.
By following these tips, you can lessen your reliance on energy this summer which creates chances to lower your energy and help you save money on your water bill. Bonus, these cost little to no money to implement, especially if you qualify for our weatherization or energy services.
1. Clean and Repair your Blinds
Blinds and curtains can be a great way to keep the sun from entering your home and turning up the temperature. Make sure your current blinds are well dusted by using a duster or rag to gently wipe them down.
During the day and evenings, keep your blinds and curtains closed. This will keep the temperature inside your home as low as possible by keeping the sun out. On that rare occasion when it cools down at night, open your windows and blinds to let the air circulate and cool off the house.
2. Service your AC
First the easy part, check your HVAC system filter to see if it's clean or dusty and needs to be changed. Clean filters allow air to flow smoothly. For the outside of your house, hose or wipe down the external part of your cooling system to make sure it's free of dust and any leaves or twigs.
If you're in need of a consultation, Butte CAA may be able to help. Apply for our Weatherization services if you meet the income requirements. If not, the Custom Home Energy Solutions (CHES) Program is a great option for low to moderate income families.
3. Check your Water Related Appliances
Leaks can cost you a lot of water over time, so now is the perfect time to get those fixed. Check places like sinks and toilets. We also recommend updating what appliances you can. For example, consider installing a more efficient toilet. Many people also like the more affordable benefit of a low-cost low-flow showered.
When you're washing dishes or clothes, wait until you have enough for a full load. This can save you 15-45 gallons of water in a washing machine and 15 gallons of water in a dishwasher.
4. Check and Replace Weather-Stripping
Weather-stripping can dry and become worn out over seasons, which causes hot outside air to come in, costing you more money to keep your home cool.
To check your weather-stripping, go around your windows and doors to check if warm air is coming into your cool home. Feel around the border of your windows and doors with your hand for a change in air temperature, or you can use a lighter or match and see if air blows it out or disrupts the flame burning. Please be safe when having an open flame in your home.
If you find any breaches in your weather stripping, you can plug them yourself with caulk. However, if you need to replace the stripping, we recommend calling in a professional.
You can hire someone locally or contact us. Replacing weather-stripping is one of our weatherization services that are no cost to low income families.
5. Change the Direction of your Fans
It's as easy as flipping a switch, literally. Most fans have a small switch on the central part of the machine that you just flip. To make sure your fan is set for the right season, check to see which direction the blades are moving.
In the summer, you want the blades to be turning in a counter clockwise direction. This will ensure cool air is being pushed down and cooling you off.
In the winter, you want the blades to be turning in a clockwise direction which pulls the warm air up, redistributing and circulating warm air.
By changing the direction of the fan blades, you are circulating the air where you want it and not having it rise and disappear. In the summer, your AC will have to work less to keep your house cool.
6. Check the Attic
Butte CAA can help with the attic insulation, but before that, you can do some of the prep work. Critters may have found your attic to be a great home for the winter. That usually means a mess and holes where they got in.
We recommend wearing long sleeves, pants, and a mask when you go to clean your attic. Look for holes that may have been made by last season's visitors and seal them up.
Check for any places vents are blocked and clear them off, also look for wet insulation that may mean a leak in the roof that needs to be patched.
Once the attic is cleared, and any holes fixed, look at your insulation. Is it compacted and need to be replaced? Good insulation that is the right size for your home will do the best job at keeping your cold air in and the hot air out. If you're unsure if you have the right insulation, we can help you figure it out!
Insulation is a great tool to ensure your home stays cooler for longer so you need to use the AC less, therefore lowering your power bill.
7. Be Mindful About Water Use When Bathing
Take shorter showers. Save Our Water, a partnership of the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources, suggests limiting them to five minutes which would save 12.5 gallons of water if using a water-efficient shower head (see point 3).
They also recommend filling baths only halfway or less, and turning the water off when brushing teeth or shaving. These are little differences everyone can take part in that can add up to saving 170 billion gallons of water a year in the U.S.
Ask for Help if Needed
These are our 7 steps to get your home ready to be a comfortable and affordable place to live this summer, even in the heat. Choose one or all of the steps and let us know if they were helpful!
Contact us if you have questions about our weatherization services. We are happy to help your home become more energy efficient and ready for summer.
Since 1967, the Community Action Agency of Butte County has been serving the needs of the region in alignment with the charter of the National Community Action Agencies overarching goal: To alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty by whatever means necessary in your community. As Butte County CAA, we provide hope to people struggling with poverty to become more self-sustaining by meeting tangible needs in the areas of energy savings, affordable food, and housing. Connect with us to find out how you can get involved.