If you live anywhere south of the U.S. – Canada border, you are likely experiencing the increasingly warmer days of summer… and if you live in the South like I do, the hot days are already here.
With summer comes the worry of high energy bills due to the constant running of the air conditioner, we are going to explore a few ways that will help you keep your cooling costs as low as possible… without having to endure turning your AC off!
Don’t turn off your air when you are away at work.
When you are away at work (or anywhere for more than a few hours) raise the temperature on your air conditioner rather than turning it off. Setting the air higher than you normally keep it will keep your house at a cool temperature. If you turn off your air conditioner the temperature in your house will increase, and when you get home and turn the unit back on, it will need to work harder to cool your house down again… this will result in rising your electric bill. Furthermore, if your air conditioner is older than 5 or 10 years old, it is likely that it is not as energy efficient as some of the newer models. If you are able to swing it financially, it may be wise to upgrade your air conditioning unit before next summer arrives.
Use Room Darkening Drapes
Putting up heavy drapes over all of your windows will help keep the house cool by not letting the bright sun and subsequent heat that warms up the house. It depends on how many windows you have in your house but putting up heavy drapes can be an effective way of keeping your house cool. If buying drapes for all of the windows in your home is too costly, you could choose to hang them in the areas of your house that sees the most sun. Over time, as you can afford it, you can get all of the windows covered.
It’s a good idea to limit the use of your air conditioner during the dog days of summer in order to save money on your electric bill… a good way to keep the cool air moving is to have your ceiling fans (even box fans if you don’t have ceiling fans) on during the day. Fortunately, ceiling fans and box fans do not use nearly as much electricity as an air conditioning unit does. If you don’t have ceiling fans in your home already, consider putting them in the bedrooms at least… that will keep the air circulating as you sleep.
Open Vents, Closed Vents.
If you live in a two story house you can help your air conditioner with cooling off your home by closing some downstairs vents and opening the upstairs vents… remember, hot air rises! If you have rooms in your home that are seldom used, close those vents to assist in directing the cool air flow to the rooms that get the most use.
The Clothes Dryer
Keep in mind that your clothes dryer generates a lot of heat. If at all possible use your dryer in the evening when the temperatures are milder… or consider putting up a clothesline and hanging your clothes outside to dry.
Look For Leaks.
Take a look around your house to see if there is anywhere that the cool air might be escaping. Any door that can be closed, should be closed. Just like the seldom used room mentioned above, if you close a vent in a room, make sure you close the door to that room also. Consider sealing any leaking windows or doors. If you can afford it, replace older windows with double pane, energy efficient windows.
Get Your Air Conditioner Serviced.
Your house’s biggest electricity user is no doubt the air conditioner, accounting for as much as half of your electric bill. Make sure your AC system is running at its highest efficiency by having annual professional cleanings and checkups.
Set the Thermostat
According to houselogic, “An air conditioner set at 70 degrees can cost twice as much to operate as one set at 78 degrees.” Give a higher setting on your AC a try, you will find that you will get acclimated to the “a little warmer” temperature setting.
Keep the area around the outside AC unit free from plants and bushes. Many people like to plant shrubs or other tall plants around the air conditioner in an attempt to “hide” the unit… the AC unit needs to be able to disperse the hot air it transfers and with plants that are too close the efficiency is diminished. A good way to reduce cooling costs in the long run is to plant trees or shrubs around your house so that your house is more shaded, especially on the sunnier side.