8 Ways to Lower Air Conditioning Costs this Summer
Simple tips for saving energy and money on cooling bills.
Which is worse, physical discomfort or financial discomfort? This is a question many people face each summer, when they struggle to decide whether it’s better to endure hot indoor temperatures and save on their energy bills or crank up the AC and exceed their budget.
Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your air conditioning costs and avoid this dilemma altogether. Here are some ideas from the US Energy Department in order from lowest to highest required investment.
Minimize Use of Heat-Generating Appliances
The first thing you can do is avoid making your home any hotter than it already is through the use of heat-generating appliances such as the oven, stove, or dryer. Instead, grill out and line dry your laundry.
Use a Ceiling Fan
Another excellent tip is to use your ceiling fan to create a cooling draft inside your home that will make you feel cooler without touching that thermostat. Experts agree that you can actually raise the thermostat about 4 degrees and still feel just as comfortable if your ceiling fan is on.
Use the Bathroom Fan
Taking a hot shower creates two problems: heat and humidity. Because humid air feels hotter than dry air, it is essential to remove this air quickly, before you get so hot and sticky you have to turn the AC up. Running the bathroom fan while you shower should do the trick.
Install Better Window Coverings
Solar heat gain from strong sunlight streaming in your windows can really eat into your cooling bills. It can also result in some parts of your home seeming hotter than others, forcing you to choose between sweating in those rooms and freezing in others. Fortunately, the problem has an easy fix: get better window coverings that can block out sun and heat.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Another excellent way to save money on your air conditioning bills is to switch to a programmable thermostat. If you choose a quality product and use it wisely, you will likely save up to 10 percent on your HVAC costs per year.
Seal Air Ducts
Leaky air ducts are a major source of energy loss. According to some estimates, air loss through the ducts accounts for about 30 percent of the total energy consumed by the system. By getting your air ducts inspected by a professional and locating and sealing any leaks, you can greatly reduce this energy loss.
Insulate the Attic
Once you’ve cooled the air in your home, you don’t want it escaping. Adding extra insulation to the attic can help keep cooled air indoors where it belongs. By keeping the attic cooler, you can also avoid the issues that would otherwise come from hot attic air leaking down into your living space.
Buy a New Air Conditioner
Of course, all the collateral improvements in the world simply cannot fix efficiency problems caused by an old or broken air conditioner. If your air conditioner cannot be repaired, you should make sure you upgrade to an efficient, ENERGY-STAR qualified air conditioner. These models are an average of 15 percent more efficient than standard air conditioners.