How To Lower Your Air Conditioning Costs
Sweltering August temperatures can send many Americans’ air conditioning costs soaring. But you don’t necessarily have to choose between a comfortable home temperature and lower costs. There are ways to keep your home cool without taking a big bite of your budget. Consider these straightforward ideas you can begin using quickly.
Make the Most of Your Air Conditioner
If you rely on your air conditioner to do the bulk of your home’s cooling, there are a few essential steps for maximizing its effectiveness and reducing your costs.
- Set your thermostat at a higher temperature. Try keeping your thermostat to 78 degrees while you’re home and 85 degrees while you’re away, suggests WebMD. The closer your indoors temperature is to the outside, says the Department of Energy (DOE), the lower your costs. Save 3 to 5% percent per degree, for each degree the thermostat is set above 78 degrees.
- Cool only the rooms that most need it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests shutting vents and air registers to rooms you rarely use in order to reduce cooling costs. This concentrates cooler air in the rooms you’re actually in — and reduces your overall cooling costs.
- Keep your air conditioner in good working order. WebMD reminds us that dirty air filters and poorly operating air conditioners can add to your cooling costs. The website suggests a professional tune-up every couple of years, as well as changing the filter every month during the summer. In fact, just keeping your filter clean can reduce your cooling costs by a whopping 5% to 15% percent, says the DOE.
- Install ENERGY STAR® windows If your windows are due for replacement, ENERGY STAR® windows can make your house more comfortable year-round.
- Replace your refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR® model Refrigerators with a top or bottom freezer design can save you an additional 5% on your bill compared to a side-by-side design.
- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can reduce air conditioning and heating costs over the course of the year by up to 10 percent, says the DOE. WebMD suggests programming it to cool off your home 30 minutes before you get home and allow it to stay warmer while you’re away at school or work.
Reducing Your Air Conditioning Needs
Reducing your need for air conditioning can have a significant impact on your costs, too. Try these ideas for keeping your home cooler:
- Use fans. Ceiling and room fans can considerably reduce your cooling costs — either on their own, or as a complement to air conditioners. In fact, says the DOE, using a fan can allow you to set your thermostat about 4 degrees higher. Plus, they can help better circulate cool air throughout your home. But, don’t forget to shut fans off when you’re away, to help avoid paying to power them when you don’t need to
- Nix the hot stuff. Keep your home cooler in the summer by avoiding use of heat-generating appliances during hot days, says WebMD. Ovens, washers, dryers, irons, and so forth can add to the temperature of your home, so it’s best to limit their use to nighttime, if possible. Microwaves and toaster ovens, on the other hand, use less energy and may be easier on your cooling bill. You can also try outdoor grilling and unplugging computers for maximum savings.
- Ventilation and shading. Keep doors and shades closed during the day to the extent possible in order to prevent excessive heating, says WebMD. Roller shades, for example, block 80 percent of solar heat. If your area cools down in the evening, open the windows to improve circulation and reduce your home’s overnight cooling needs.
- Insulation and cracks. Seal windows, doors, and any cracks, and ensure your insulation meets your home’s needs, says the DOE — otherwise, your home’s cooling bills may be higher than necessary.
As the heat reaches full intensity this summer, try incorporating more of these tips for keeping your home cooler. They may help cushion your budget, too.
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