Running your air conditioner (AC) not only keeps your home cool during hot summer months, it can cut down on interior humidity as well, protecting your home from damaging moisture. Find out how you can stay comfortable and still reduce AC costs with these simple tips.
1. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
If you invest in a programmable or smart thermostat, it can help you cut down on air conditioning costs by regulating the temperature when you're not home. You can keep it slightly warmer when you'll be away or at work, and have it set to cool more when you'll be home.
2. Service Air Conditioning Units Regularly
Poorly maintained air conditioners won't run as effectively as those that are properly maintained. ACs in need of service may run more frequently and work harder, which will result in higher cooling bills. Whether you get a professional or go the DIY route, staying on top of maintenance can also save you money in the long run on repair costs. The unit should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Also consider getting your ducts cleaned to ensure optimal air flow.
3. Change Filters Monthly
According to Family Handyman, dirty AC filters can cost homeowners up to seven percent more in energy costs. Change the filters monthly to keep your air conditioner running its best and keep your bills low.
4. Use Energy-Saving Curtains
Energy-saving or blackout curtains can help maintain the temperature of your home. They can also reduce the amount of sunlight that enters a room, which can raise the temperature. According the Department of Energy, 76 percent of sunlight that falls on standard windows enters the home to become heat, so blackout curtains can mean a significant reduction in a home heat intake in the warmer months. If you don't want curtains, window film is another option.
5. Optimize the Temperature Setting
According to Consumer Reports, setting the right temperature can help save big on utility costs. If you want to save money and still use your AC, the best thermostat setting is 78° F for times you're at home and awake. If you're not comfortable with the 78°F, lower it one degree at a time until you find the highest temperature at which you can still be comfortable. At night, set the temperature to 82° F. When you're not home, raise the temperature to 85° F.
6. Check Thermostat Placement
According to CNET, where your thermostat is placed can play a big part in how often your air conditioner runs. If it's placed on a particularly hot wall, the temperature reading won't be accurate. As a result, your air conditioner will run more often than it really needs to. In this case, relocating your thermostat to a different wall could help reduce cooling costs.
7. Check Door and Window Seals
Damaged, torn, or inefficient seals around your doors or windows could mean that the cool air you're working to keep in your home goes literally right out the window. MoneyCrashers suggests new caulk or weather stripping as easy solutions that could yield a five to ten percent savings.
8. Consider an Insulation Upgrade
Although it comes with an upfront cost, upgrading attic and wall insulation will help your home retain its temperature better and save money over time on cooling costs (as well as heating). This is especially true for older homes that may have very poor insulation.
9. Use Ceiling Fans in Occupied Rooms
Running ceiling fans in the room(s) you are in can help keep the space(s) feeling cooler when you are there. Michael Bluejay, also known as Mr. Electricity, points out on his website that using ceiling fans with a downward-directed flow will push cool air down so that the room feels cooler.
10. Install a More Efficient AC Unit
If you have an older AC unit, Good Housekeeping suggests considering an upgrade to save money on cooling costs. Newer Energy Star models use about 14 percent less energy than the minimum standards set by the government, and so will be much more efficient than older models.
11. Increase Outdoor Shade
According to Bankrate, adding leafy trees to create more shade around the home's exterior is another option for helping lower AC costs. Trees and shrubs that prevent heat and sunlight from hitting the house will help keep it cooler. Purchase shade trees that are 15-20 feet tall from a local nursery to help provide the necessary shade.
12. Avoid Using the Oven
Bankrate also says that using your stove or oven can make your air conditioning work overtime, so avoid using those when possible to keep the house cooler for less. Instead, use an option like a small electric skillet, slow cooker, or light up the grill outdoors.
13. Check for Obscured Vents
If you have furniture or other things blocking your vents, your AC will be running but you won't feel the effects. Make sure vents aren't covered or blocked.
Stay Comfortable and Save
While there are plenty of hacks to keep cool without AC, you don't necessarily have to turn it off if you're trying to save money on energy bills. Following a few tips can help reduce your costs and still keep you comfortable when the temperatures soar.