Most of us look forward to summer. The warm, sunny weather has a way of putting a smile on one’s face. Sure, it gets hot outdoors, but we can always go inside and cool off courtesy of air conditioning.
Air conditioning is nice, but it can cause your electric bill to skyrocket. In warm climates, as much as 70% of total electricity used can be attributed to air conditioning. So it pays to find ways to reduce the amount of time your air conditioner runs. Here are ten things you can do to save money on cooling.
1. Make sure you’re using the right kind of air conditioner. If your unit is too large or too small, you’ll end up wasting energy. There are also evaporative cooling systems that are much more energy efficient in dry climates, but work very poorly in humid climates. So if you’re planning on purchasing a new unit, talk to an expert to determine which one is best for your needs.
2. Keep it shady. Shade trees can make a big difference in how hot it gets inside your home, allowing your air conditioner to keep it cool without running as much. Window blinds and awnings can also help.
3. Open the windows and use fans to keep your home cool when practical. On really hot, humid days, air conditioning may be necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature. But when it’s just nice and warm out, open windows and a good fan may do the trick.
4. Make sure your home is well insulated. This will help keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
5. Maintain your air conditioner as directed by the manufacturer. Filters should be changed or cleaned each month, and the coils should be cleaned at the beginning of each summer.
6. Use the thermostat to your advantage. A programmable thermostat is ideal, because you can set it to automatically turn off when no one will be home. Then you can set it to turn the air back on about half an hour before you return, and the house will be nice and cool. For maximum energy savings, keep the thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature.
7. If you have central air, consider shutting off vents in rooms that are unoccupied. Shutting off too many vents at the same time, however, can damage the ducts. When in doubt, ask an HVAC professional how many vents you can safely close.
8. Speaking of ducts, check them periodically to make sure there are no leaks. If you find a leak, have it repaired immediately.
9. Keep your storm windows closed. If you don’t have storm windows, consider having them installed. It won’t be cheap, but it will significantly cut costs on both cooling and heating.
10. Avoid using the oven as much as possible. The heat it produces is more heat that the air conditioner must remove from your home. Use the microwave or grill out instead.
Air conditioning can make an unbearably hot day bearable. But it can also be hard on the budget. Take steps to minimize the amount of time your unit runs, and you can reap the rewards when you pay your electric bill.