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Navigating emerging efficiency technologies

by Kaley Lockwood

Investing in energy efficient technology is becoming an increasingly attractive way to cut costs for homeowners and renters alike. This rings true especially in the deep heat of summer. Hotter days often result in higher energy bills, partially due to A/C units working overtime to keep homes cooled and comfortable.

New and emerging technologies are continuously offering innovative ways to effectively manage and reduce a home’s energy consumption. Smart thermostats, for example, have proven their worth in shaving 10 to 15 percent off an average home’s electric bill. These thermostats, in time, will effectively pay for themselves which make them an attractive option to many. Unfortunately, not all technologies can live up to their hype and some even come with side effects that can arguably overshadow their benefits.

The Mistbox Air Conditioner Cooler is one such technology. Mistbox claims to save its customers between 20 to 38 percent on their electricity bills. This technology requires a simple installation to a home’s outdoor A/C unit and works by spraying a mist to precool the air around the unit. In using this evaporative cooling method, your A/C unit theoretically doesn’t have to work as hard to pump cool air into your home. This may be beneficial when air temperature is at its highest. In the short term Mistbox may work, but there are some real caveats that need to be considered.

A primary point of concern is that an A/C unit is not designed to be sprayed down with such frequency. Although the Mistbox system comes with a water filter, the company only recommends using its technology if your home’s water has a hardness less than 500 parts per million. This automatically rules out anyone who uses well water. Even if you do have a home with the required water hardness, the filtration system can’t completely prevent your system from rusting. Corrosion will occur resulting in a damaged unit.

Electric cooperatives know it’s important to help our members navigate these emerging technologies and provide the most cost-effective and beneficial energy management solutions. If you’re interested in taking steps to become more energy efficient, we recommend these tried and true tips:

• Clean and change the filters on your HVAC system regularly to make your unit run more efficiently, keeping your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

• In spring and summer months, set your ceiling fans to turn in the counterclockwise direction to create a cool breeze. In autumn and winter months, set your fan to turn in the clockwise direction. This will redistribute warm air throughout the room.

• Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

• Insulation is important. Properly insulating your home reduces heating and cooling costs and improves comfort.

Remember, there are easy steps you can take now to improve the energy efficiency of your home. To learn about additional ways to save, contact the energy experts at your local electric cooperative.

Kaley Lockwood writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.