When things start to heat up outside, you stay comfortable by hunkering down in your nice, air-conditioned home. Unfortunately, central air is notorious for generating excessively high electricity bills. Use these tips to lower your summer cooling costs without losing your cool.
- Set the temperature as high as possible: If you dress in long sleeves and long pants and keep the thermostat at 74 degrees, you’re wasting energy and money. Dress for the season and turn up the temperature as high as you can without feeling uncomfortable. 78 degrees is a reasonable goal.
- Run the ceiling fan: If 78 degrees feels a bit warm, turn on a fan to create a “wind chill effect.” This makes the room feel 4 degrees cooler while consuming about 98 percent less electricity than the air conditioner.
- Install a programmable thermostat: Do you spend all day at work? There’s no need to cool a vacant house. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, install one and set it to 82 degrees while you’re gone all day to save 5 to 10 percent on your cooling bills. The automatic recovery feature restores a comfortable 78 degrees before you get home, allowing you to maximize energy savings without sacrificing comfort.
- Block the sun: Solar heat gain is a major contributor to high cooling costs. Keep the sun out by blocking the windows. Drapes and blinds prevent direct sunlight from shining in, while window films reflect heat before it transmits through the glass. You can also plant trees or install awnings to shade south- and west-facing windows during the heat of the afternoon.
- Seal up air leaks: Hot summer air wafting into your home is enough to raise your cooling bills significantly. Air sealing keeps conditioned air inside where it belongs for improved comfort and lower energy costs.
- Decrease interior heat gain: Your air conditioner must also counteract any heat generated within your home, so refrain from using the stove, oven, dishwasher, clothes dryer and other heat-generating appliances at the hottest times of the day.
- Replace the AC filter: A clogged filter restricts airflow, forcing your AC to work harder and increasing your cooling costs. Replace the filter every month (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to keep the air flowing and your utility bills under control.
- Tune up your air conditioner: The same way a car requires oil changes to get the best gas mileage, your AC needs routine maintenance to run at peak performance. Tune up your air conditioner every year to prepare it for an efficient summer.
- Upgrade to a high-efficiency cooling system: When the time comes to replace your AC, choose one that has earned the Energy Star rating. This ensures more efficient performance that will reduce your utility bills for many seasons to come.