On hot summer days, there is nothing quite so wonderful as a fully functioning air conditioning unit. These days, these handy units are such a big part of our summers that it can be hard to remember how we got along before they existed.
One thing that is not quite so wonderful, however, is how expensive they can be to maintain. If you have had an air conditioning unit for a full summer, then you know just how easy it is for your electricity bill to skyrocket over the summer months.
Despite how inconvenient this expense can be, there is just nothing you can do about it, right? Well, as it turns out, that is not quite true. While it is impossible to make your air conditioning expenses vanish altogether, there are of ways to reduce your cooling costs this summer. All it takes is a little patience and creativity to make them happen.
If you are serious about reducing your electricity bill this summer, then it is time to talk about how to cool your house on a budget. Here are our best tips and tricks for you to try out this season.
Table of Contents
- How to Cut Air Conditioning Costs
- Use Fans
- Be More Economical With the Temperature Settings
- Insulate Your Home
- Keep Your Cooling Systems in Good Shape
- Replace Your Old Air Conditioner
- Do Not Let the Heat Build Up
- Choose the Right Wall for Your Thermostat
- Adjust Your Thermostat as Necessary
- Plant Some Trees
- Get Professional Service Once a Year
How to Cut Air Conditioning Costs
When it comes to talking about how to use an air conditioner economically, it is important to realize that there is not one single overarching change that will instantly cut your bills. Rather, saving money on your air conditioning bill is about making lots of small changes. While each individual change might not seem like much, they will all add up and can result in a positive difference for your family, your house, your air conditioner and your wallet.
With this in mind, try implementing these air conditioning tips to save energy and money.
1. Use Fans
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it is an underestimated trick that can provide an alternate or supplemental means of keeping your house cool without relying as heavily on your air conditioner as you might otherwise.
Switching several fans on is a great way to cool your house down if the day is just warm enough to be uncomfortable, but not quite hot enough to blast the air conditioning. A fan can cool you down by an average of 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if you already have the air conditioner turned on, you can use a fan or fans on top of this. Supplementing your air conditioner with a fan will allow you to dial down your air conditioner by approximately 4 degrees Fahrenheit without any decrease in comfort levels.
One word of caution regarding fans, however, is that they should always be turned off if no one is in the room enjoying them. Leaving fans running in empty rooms throughout the house is an extremely easy way to waste electricity.
2. Be More Economical With the Temperature Settings
As nice as it might be to live in an icebox all summer, this will cause your cooling and energy bills to soar through the roof. Because of this, one of the easiest ways to shave a little money off your electricity expenses is to simply raise your set temperature by a few degrees. In fact, we recommend setting your temperature as high as possible while still being within your comfort level.
It is difficult to prescribe a single best temperature for your AC to save money, as everyone has a different comfort level. Some people can be comfortable with their air conditioning set to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while others have a lower tolerance level and need to set the temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit to feel comfortable. To figure out where you fall on that scale, experiment with different temperatures and settings. See which temperatures leave you sweating and miserable, and which ones leave you warm, but comfortable.
Many people agree that a comfortable AC temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If this works for you, setting your AC to this level will certainly help you save money. Remember that everyone’s preferences will be different, however, and feel free to select whatever temperature works for you.
In general, the rule of thumb to keep in mind is as follows: the closer your set temperature is to the temperature outside, the lower your cooling costs will be. While this step will look slightly different for everyone, this one single adjustment can save you up to 10 percent on your energy bill.
3. Insulate Your Home
If your house is not well-insulated, you may be paying for cool air that is not even benefiting you. Your house may be full of little cracks and gaps that will all too easily allow your precious cold air to slip out if you are not careful. This means that your air conditioner has to expend far more energy than is necessary to keep your house cool.
To prevent this, close up all those little gaps and spaces and caulk carefully around your windows. You can also add weatherstripping and insulation around your doorways. Make sure that your house is absolutely airtight to keep all the air you are paying for.
4. Keep Your Cooling Systems in Good Shape
When trying to save money, it is not enough just to have an air conditioner and a programmable thermostat. To keep your systems running at the peak of efficiency, you will also want to keep every part of your cooling systems well-maintained. If you neglect to take care of your equipment, this lack of maintenance could be responsible for a spike in your cooling costs.
Maintaining your systems means doing things like replacing your air filters regularly. It means checking any floor and ceiling registers to be sure they are free from dust, dirt and other clogging materials. You will also want to check that the pieces of your system located outside — namely, the evaporator and condenser coils — are not blocked by twigs, rocks or dirt.
If any of these pieces of equipment are being blocked or hindered in any way, it could result in your system needing to work harder to keep your house cool, and this, in turn, will result in higher energy bills for you. To avoid this problem altogether, simply keep all these parts cleaned and well-maintained. For the best results, check your air filter every month, and plan on swapping out the filter every three months.
5. Replace Your Old Air Conditioner
Despite your best efforts, sometimes an air conditioning unit is beyond its prime. Maybe it has broken as the result of a malfunction, or maybe it is simply worn down from years of faithful service. Whatever the situation may be, some air conditioners simply need to be replaced.
While you may be hesitant to replace your unit because of prices, remember that this new unit will most likely pay for itself before too long, as it will be far more efficient than your old air conditioner.
6. Do Not Let the Heat Build Up
During the heat of the day, when the temperature outside is higher than the temperatures inside, one of the best ways to save on cooling costs is to avoid letting the heat build up inside your home altogether. This might sound like an impossible task, but that is not quite true. You do have a small bit of control over the heat inside your home, and to save money, we recommend exercising that control to its fullest extent.
You might not realize it, but certain daily activities can contribute to the heat that builds up in your house during the day. Cooking on the stove, running the dishwasher, showering and running the dryer all cause the temperatures to rise inside your house, as they all involve appliances that give off large amounts of heat when they are turned on.
To help keep your temperatures down, try to avoid these activities during the early parts of the day and save them for the evening instead. Or if you must do these activities during the day, try not to do them all at once, or on the same day. Maybe use your dryer one day, and the dishwasher the next day. Better yet, consider washing the dishes by hand, grilling outside or hanging your clothes up on a clothesline to dry them. This will prevent heat from gathering in your home and give your air conditioner a little bit of a break.
7. Choose the Right Wall for Your Thermostat
Did you know that it matters which wall of your house you install your thermostat on? While this might seem like a tiny and insignificant detail, this actually can impact how hard your thermostat is working.
If you place your thermostat on an outside wall, particularly one right next to a window, the thermostat will perceive the room to be hotter than it actually is, because it is picking up heat readings from the window. You also do not want to put your thermostat in a room that you rarely use, as this room may be cooler than the rest of your house.
For the best results, place your thermostat in a main room, such as a living room, and install it on an interior wall. This will ensure that your thermostat gets the most accurate readings possible and does not work harder than necessary to over-cool your home.
8. Adjust Your Thermostat as Necessary
Do not be afraid to move the settings on your thermostat around. Just because you set it to 78 degrees one day does not mean you cannot set it to 75 degrees the next day. Keep an eye on what the weather outside is like and what the temperature inside your house is, and change your set temperature accordingly.
For example, you might be all right with letting your house be slightly warmer during the day, when fewer people are around to be uncomfortable. After all, there is little point in spending money to cool an empty house. On the other side of the equation, maybe you have difficulty sleeping in a house that is too hot. In that case, you may want to lower the set temperature by a few degrees at night.
9. Plant Some Trees
This is more of a long-term solution, but if you are serious about reducing your energy bills, it will pay off in the years to come. Since most of the heat that accumulates in your home comes from the sun shining through the windows or directly onto the house, it makes sense that one of the most efficient ways to limit this heat buildup is to block the sun from shining directly onto your house in the first place.
To do this, we recommend planting trees around your property that will provide shade and reduce the amount of direct sunlight that can shine on your home. If the trees you buy are young, it may take several years for this purchase to pay off, but it will be worth it when the trees are grown.
10. Get Professional Service Once a Year
Sometimes, something can go wrong with your air conditioner without you even noticing it. Maybe the inner workings are clogged or broken, and your unit is having to work extra hard and expend extra energy to keep your home comfortable. You could be losing money this way and never even realize something is wrong.
To prevent this kind of situation from happening to you, it is a good idea to get your air conditioner serviced at least once a year. Call a professional and have them come out to take a look at your unit. It could be that nothing is wrong, but if there is a problem, it is always better to have someone catch it as early as possible.
If you are looking for ways to save electricity when using an air conditioner, call SMO Energy today to get your air conditioner serviced. We want to make your life easier and save you money by making sure your air conditioner is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Whether your unit is malfunctioning or you just want an annual checkup, we would love to come and look at it for you.