Think about it: At least some of them have been known to hook up a stationary bike to a solar battery pack, pedal away while maybe thinking of an idyllic life in the rain forests of Brazil, and they’ve generated enough stored power to operate their kitchen appliances and computers.
Okay, so it takes 10 minutes of pedaling just to run the toaster. But, hey, the point is, there are lots of ways you might not have thought of to cut your energy bills this summer.
Here are some of the more realistic ones for homeowners:
* Make your yard work for you. It’s already been hammered into our heads that strategically placed greenery can add to a house’s all-important “curb appeal.” Well, guess what? Adding trees, shrubs and spiffy vine-covered trellises also happens to work wonders against the sizzling sun.
“Trees reduce bills not just by shading your house, but by cooling the air by releasing moisture,” Asa Foss of the U.S. Green Building Council told AARP.
* Ceiling fans are your new best bud. Decrease the use of electricity-gobbling air conditioners with this simple little trick: “[Running fans] counterclockwise will push hot air up in the summer” — your goal — “and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months,” advises U.S. News & World Report.
* Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. You almost might as well just send your utility company a blank check if you lack what Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence, calls “a continual flow of air to help protect the efficiency of your attic’s insulation.” The culprit working against achieving that: excess moisture buildup that clings to your roof’s underside in winter from seemingly benign sources — i.e., appliances, showers and cooking vapors — before ultimately soaking the insulation when the condensed moisture falls.
Joplin’s suggestion to help ward off the problem? A properly balanced ventilation system consisting of Cobra Ridge Vent (installed at the ridge) and Cobra IntakePro (installed at the eave) by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s leading roofing manufacturer. “Both work in tandem to allow cool, fresh air to enter at the eave edge while forcing moist, super-heated air out of the ridge vent,” he explains.
* Beware sneaky thermostats. Sure, your big-screen TVs all over the house are the envy of the neighborhood, but you’re making an expensive mistake if they — or even lamps — are positioned near air-conditioning thermostats. “The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary,” advises the website Home Energy Saver.
Quick, move them.