Heating and Cooling Tips | My Home | Mississippi Power | A Southern Company

Heating and Cooling Tips

Heat Pump Program

Home heating and cooling accounts for just over half of the average customer's energy purchases. You can get control of your home's comfort level and your heating and cooling costs with a heat pump, properly installed duct system and a programmable thermostat.

Have a home energy audit

Mississippi Power can help you find ways to save money and energy. Take a free online energy checkup or schedule a free in-home energy audit today to learn how you can save up to 30 percent* on your annual bill.

Create an airtight thermal boundary

Your home's thermal boundary — also called its "envelope" or "shell" — consists of its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floors. Sealing your home's envelope reduces drafts and helps prevent moisture problems. It can save you up to 10%* on your energy bill and keep you more comfortable during the hottest and coldest months of the year. Air sealing a home with gas appliances can cause safety issues and should be done by a professional.

* Source: energystar.gov

Cut your heating & cooling costs up to 50% with a geothermal heat pump

Highly efficient, environmentally friendly, durable and easy to maintain, a geothermal heat pump can keep your home's temperature constant while cutting your heating and cooling costs up to 50%.

* Source: energy.gov

Have your heating & cooling system serviced annually

Have your heating and cooling systems professionally serviced once a year to keep them running as efficiently as possible. If your system is older, consider installing a more efficient one.

Insulate your attic access

Your attic's access point can be a common cause of energy loss and higher bills. Save energy and money by creating a simple, insulated box that sits over the frame of your attic opening.

Keep your air vents free of obstructions

To maintain even temperatures throughout your home, keep air vents and registers clear of obstructions such as furniture, curtains and rugs.

Lower your thermostat for bigger gatherings

Lower your thermostat when large groups of people are expected during the winter. Because our bodies act as small heaters and humidifiers, a gathering will compensate for the lower setting. In fact, failing to adjust the setting will likely result in a hot, stuffy room.

Make sure your attic is well ventilated

Proper attic ventilation can reduce your energy consumption and increase your comfort during summer's heat and winter's chill. Natural air flow in the attic also keeps the roof decking cool and dry, extending the life of roof shingles. Be sure attic soffit, gable and ridge vents are not blocked so air flows freely through them.

Save up to $300 a year with an energy-efficient heat pump

If your heating and cooling system is older, consider installing a more efficient system with a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The most energy-efficient way to heat and cool your home year-round, today's heat pumps are easy to install and maintain and can save you as much as $300 a year on your heating and cooling costs.

Seal any air gaps in your attic

Your attic's plumbing stacks, vents, ductwork, electrical wires and other structural penetrations often have gaps around them, allowing the conditioned air in your home to escape into the attic. This can cause air drafts and increase your energy bill. Use caulk and spray foam sealant to fill these gaps, cracks and holes.

Seal around wiring and plumbing

Seal around wiring and plumbing penetrations. Use caulk for small holes and expanding foam for larger areas. This will keep unconditioned air from entering the house or conditioned air from escaping.

Seal gaps and cracks around rim joists

Sealing rim joist air leaks can make a big improvement in your home's energy use — especially in the winter. Use caulk or expanding spray foam to seal areas between the sill plate and foundation, in cavities between rim joists and all electrical penetrations, and around pipes and ventilation ducts that pass outside of the house.

Seal gaps around flues

Chimney, water heater or furnace flues that penetrate your attic floor, basement floor or crawlspace have gaps around them, allowing the conditioned air in your home to escape into your attic and potentially increasing your energy bill. Make your home more comfortable and energy efficient by sealing these leaks with metal flashing and high-temperature caulk. Sealing gaps around flues should be done by a professional.

Seal your air ducts

Gaps in joints and at connections in your ductwork can cause your heating and cooling bills to increase by as much as 30%*. They can also allow air contaminants to enter the home. Using duct sealant — also called duct mastic — is the best way to fix the problem permanently. Consider having your duct system professionally sealed.

* Source: energy.gov

Seal your exterior doors

Make sure the caulk and weather-stripping around your doors is good shape. If the caulk is cracked or the weather-stripping is flat or peeling, replace the old material. Use caulk for small holes and expanding foam for larger areas.

Seal your outlets & switch plates

Keeping conditioned air from leaking out saves you energy and money. Seal your outlets and switch plates with pre-cut foam gasket covers.

Seal your windows

Check caulk and weather-stripping around your windows. If the caulk is cracked or the weather-stripping is flat or peeling, replace the old material. Use caulk for small holes and expanding foam for larger areas.

Set your thermostat

Set thermostats at 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter. You can expect a 3-4% increase in energy use for every degree you set the thermostat lower in the summer and higher in the winter. Also consider installing a programmable thermostat, which will automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you're away or sleeping — a benefit that can save you up to $100 a year.

Turn on your ceiling fan for summer savings

Although it doesn't actually lower the temperature of the room, a ceiling or area fan in the summer will make the air feel up to six degrees cooler. Increase your thermostat's setting by two degrees and use your fan to lower energy costs by up to 14%* over the course of the air conditioning season. Also, if you have a ceiling fan with a light fixture, use low wattage LEDs for cooler light bulbs and more energy savings.

* Source: energystar.gov

Unplug your electronics & plug into savings

Also known as standby power, phantom load refers to the electric power consumed by electronic equipment and appliances while they are switched off or in a standby mode. Phantom load can be avoided by unplugging appliances — a simple solution that can save you up to $100* a year.

* Source: www.energy.gov

Up your indoor air quality & your savings with an energy-efficient dehumidifier

If you purchase a dehumidifier for your home, look for one that's earned the ENERGY STAR®. It will use less energy and can save you more than $220* in energy costs over its life. Some common indications that you need a dehumidifier are musty smells, mold and mildew, rotting wood, condensation on windows, and increased allergies.

* Source: energystar.gov

Upgrade to an energy-efficient heating and cooling system

As much as 50%* of your home's total energy usage goes to heating and cooling. If your heating system is more than 15 years old, or your air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient and properly-sized system. Doing so could save you a substantial amount on your electric bill.

* Source: energystar.gov

Use a fan to circulate heated air

You can use a small room fan or ceiling fan to circulate and distribute heated air. Ceiling fans, when reversed, can push the hot air from the ceiling to the occupied areas of the room. Remember to set fans on low speeds during the winter months.

Use an electric blanket

Pretty small energy consumers, electric blankets save you money during the winter because they enable you to lower your thermostat setting. And, each degree you set your thermostat back saves you about 3-4% on heating costs. If you have an electric blanket, remember to use it wisely: Turn it off during the day and place another blanket on top of it to keep in the heat. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions about covering it and securing the corners to your mattress.

Use heat-generating appliances when it's coolest

Avoid using appliances that give off heat during the hottest times of the day as they will make your cooling system work that much harder. Cook your meals, wash your dishes and launder your clothes in the morning or in the late evening, when the demand on your cooling system is less.

Use light-colored window shades or drapes

Repel excess heat by using light-colored blinds, shades and draperies on the sunny side (especially the west side) of the house. Make sure draperies are insulated or lined.

Use your window heating or cooling unit wisely

If you're leaving the room that's being heated or cooled by a window- or wall-mounted unit, adjust the temperature or better yet — turn it off.