Energy Saving Tips

Useful and timely energy saving tips for your home.

If you live in the Chicago area, you know how HOT summers can be, and how bitterly COLD the winters can be.  The number one energy issue in Chicago area homes is air leakage — loosing your cool indoor air in the summer, and heating the outside in the winter.  How do you know if you need an energy audit?

In the wintertime, after a snow, is the roof of your home free of snow?  If so, you are loosing (a lot of) heat through your roof.  Are certain rooms colder than others? Do you have pretty icicles on your home?  They are a sign of ice dams…another sure sign of a home in need of an energy audit.

In the summertime, do you have to use window air conditioners in certain rooms even though you have central air?  Are some rooms just too warm to be in? Air conditioning uses more energy, in terms of electricity, of all electrical usage products in the average Chicago area home.  Be sure you are using it efficiently!


While there are many ways to help save electricity on air conditioning, after years of energy auditing, one remains the very best return-on-investment: Vacuum your fins.

Vacuuming the fins on the outside compressor is very inexpensive, even if you pay someone to do it, and can save over $100 a season.   It can also be a simple do-it-yourself project.

How it Works

The air conditioner compressor (shown here) cools the coolant that has taken heat out of your home.  It contains a fan that pulls air through many small fins.  When these fins clog with dust, dirt or other debris (cottonwood seeds are especially bad), it greatly reduces the efficiency of the unit.

How To Do It

While the unit is off, use a simple shop vac or house vacuum with hose to vacuum the dirty fins.  Sometimes a broom will help remove the debris quicker.  Do not use a steel brush or otherwise sharp instruments in the removal, as the fins are made of aluminum and can damage fairly easily. If you have window air conditioners, the fins of the outside of these units should be cleaned in a similar manner.  You will be amazed at how much dirt and debris you will remove!

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