Boost Summer Cooling Efficiency

Boost Summer Cooling Efficiency

As summer approaches, many lowans are looking for ways to block the sun and keep the heat and humidity out of their homes. Inefficient appliances and bad energy habits allow extra heat and moisture to build up inside, making the air conditioner work harder to cool the home. Fortunately, waste heat from appliances can be reduced and a home's energy efficiency can be increased with a few simple changes.

Water Heaters

Use less hot water.
Turn the water heater temperature down. For every 10 degrees F the water temperature is lowered, there will be a 3- 5 percent decrease on water heating costs. Setting it at 120 degrees F will meet most household hot water needs.


Avoid using the drying cycle which lets steam into the kitchen. Open the door and pull out the racks to air-dry the dishes or use an air-dry setting.
Wash full loads of dishes in the washer, but don't overload the washer and end up having to run it again.
Scrape C Don't rinse - food off of dishes before loading them into the washer. Unless they are extremely dirty or greasy, most dishes do not have to be rinsed before they are put into the dishwasher.
If the dishwasher has a booster heater be sure to use it. Booster heaters heat water for the dishwasher instead of requiring hot water from the central water heater, which will allow a lower overall water heater temperature.

Clothes Washers

Use cold or warm water. Although heavily soiled clothes require hot or warm water to be washed, most clothes can actually be washed using a cold or warm wash setting with a cold-water rinse. By washing clothes with a cold or warm rinse, hot water consumption can be reduced by up to 65 percent compared to the energy used for hot wash/warm rinse loads.

Clothes Dryers

Use the clothesline.
Dry full loads but don't overload the machine. If a dryer is stuffed full of wet clothes, the air won't be able to circulate to dry the clothes.
Use the moisture sensor on the dryer if one is available.
Make use of the cool-down cycle, which can reduce wrinkling and cut down on ironing time.
Clean the lint screen between loads and check the exhaust vent for obstructions.


Plan meals ahead to avoid using the stove or oven during the hot daytime hours.
Choose foods that don't require heating, such as deli sandwiches or fruit.
Consider cooking enough for an extra meal and reheating it in the microwave.
Turn the oven off immediately after using it to prevent waste heat from entering the kitchen.
Rearrange the oven racks before starting to preheat the oven.
Thaw frozen foods to reduce cooking time by as much as a third.
Use only as much liquid as necessary while cooking. The more water added to food, the longer it will take to heat it.
Lids covering pots and pans while they are cooking help to retain heat, allowing foods to be cooked faster and more efficiently.

More Information and Additional Resources
Some of this information was adapted from the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy's publication, Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, 7th Edition, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network as well as Homemade Money by Richard Heede and staff of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Additional information on home energy savings can be found in the Home Series: Home Cooling booklet available on the Iowa Energy Center's Web site, or by calling (515) 294-8819.

The Iowa Energy Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving Iowa's energy efficiency and the use of renewable fuels.