During the heat of the summer season, you are welcoming the heat of the sun – but only when you’re outdoors and enjoying the beach, the mountains or the forest. When you are inside your home, you would not want to feel stifled because of the heat outside, so you turn on your air conditioning unit.
But keeping cool while indoors comes with huge costs. In the electricity consumption of an average home, 50% comes from cooling and heating. You would not want to spend any more than you have to on electricity, so it pays to know how to keep those costs down while maintaining the coolness inside your home at the same time. Here, we will be dishing out tips on how you can save money on air conditioning.
How Much Are Homeowners Spending on Air Conditioning
Before counting down the ways that you can cool your home in a frugal manner, let us first learn how much the average homeowner really needs to spend on air conditioning. Here are a few figures to consider:
- Maintaining a cool temperature inside the house costs Americans about $11 billion per year. These air conditioning units release about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air on an annual basis. For every house that has an air conditioning unit, that equates to two tons of carbon dioxide per year.
- In states where the weather is warmer, the average family spends about $600 per year on cooling costs. In the Midwest, about half of that is spent.
- If you have central air conditioning installed, you will waste 3500 Watt-hours per one hour of continuous use. For those who have a medium-sized window unit air conditioning system, the wastage adds up to about 900 Watt-hours per one hour of continuous use.
Based from these figures alone, air conditioning units do eat up a huge chunk of your utility bills. If you can do something to cut back on your usage of the AC or if you can find alternative ways to cool down your home, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on electricity costs.
Top Ways to Save Money on Air Conditioning
So it’s the summer season, and the US Department of Energy says that cooling your home will take a 43% bite off your monthly utility bills. How can you cut back on this cost to save the dollars while still keeping your house cool? Take a look at our top tips on how you can save money on air conditioning:
1. Shade your house from the heat of the sun.
The natural heat of the sun coming through the roof is what’s making the inside of your house hot, especially during the summer season. To lower your cooling costs, plant leafy trees or shrubs around the exterior of your home. The more greens there are, the lesser that the sun will be reaching the inside of your home. What’s even better is if you can plant a tree from the nursery to cover or shade your air conditioning unit. This will help boost your AC’s efficiency by as much as 10%, according to the US Department of Energy.
2. Use fans!
Did you know that ceiling fans are the best investments that you can make inside your home? If you have a ceiling fan and it is the height of the summer season, all that hot air surrounding your body will be blown away. You can also change the direction that the blades of the fan are turning to maximize the circulation of air inside your house.
Again, if you have a ceiling fan, check on the switch that you can flip to change the direction of the blades. For most fans, a counter-clockwise direction blows the air down while a clockwise direction blows the air up. Stand directly below the fan once it is set on full speed and if you feel the air hitting your hard, it means that the fan is already set in the right direction.
3. Rearrange your furniture.
Which part of the house do family members usually hang out in? During the hottest hours of the day, gather in one area so that you can maximize the use of the air conditioning unit. If it’s the living room, make everyone stay there and turn off all the individual ACs in other rooms. You can save money on air conditioning costs by rearranging your furniture. Check if the furniture in the living room obstructs the air coming in from the air conditioning vent. If a sofa or a chair is facing the vent, that will be cooled off instead of the entire room.
4. Use window covers.
To maintain the coolness of your home while the AC is turned on, use window covers. Some examples are solar screens, window screens made of mesh, window films and metalized sheets. When you place solar screens in windows, they can intercept up to 70% of the solar energy before it warms your entire house. The job of window films is to reflect the heat before it can be transmitted through the glass. Solar screens can double up as shields from the sun, and they can even be used to keep the insects out.
5. Use a programmable thermostat.
Set your AC anywhere from 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit – and only turn them on when you are at home. You can actually save up to 15% on your air conditioning bills by raising the temperature setting on your thermostat when you are not at home. What’s even better is if you can use a programmable thermostat, which allows you to just set it and forget it. If you already have an energy saving AC unit installed, you can save even more money.
6. Camp out in the basement.
If it’s too hot outside, you might not even need to turn the AC at all. You simply need to camp out in the basement where it’s cool. Turn the fan on, and enjoy a cold drink. Just make sure not to open the windows at the basement if the air is heavy with humidity, because it will cool the surfaces on the walls, thus humidifying your entire house.
7. Only use heat-generating appliances during the cooler parts of the day.
If you must cook, iron clothes, bake or use any other heat-generating appliance in the house, do the task during the cooler parts of the day. If you have central air conditioning and you decide to cook, its motor will work overtime to keep your kitchen cool. If you must do some boiling and other food preparation in the kitchen, do the task at night when it’s cooler. Otherwise, use the microwave oven to reheat food.
8. Use the humidity level in deciding the setting of your AC.
Still according to the US Department of Energy, you should set the speed of your AC fan on low on particularly humid days. Why? Because the slower movement of the air through the AC unit removes more moisture from the air. This improves the quality of indoor air that you and your family are breathing in.
9. Maintain the efficiency of your air conditioning unit.
Prior to the official start of the summer season, make sure that your AC is in perfect working condition. If you must, have it professionally cleaned – or at least, replace the filter yourself. Dirty filters force the motor to work overtime and does not necessarily improve the quality of indoor air. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on what else you need to do to maintain the peak performance of your air conditioning unit.
10. Replace your air conditioning unit if necessary.
Finally, if your air conditioning unit is ten years old and up, it is time to replace it with a new one. Old electrical appliances tend to consume a lot more electricity than their modern counterparts, simply because they were not designed to save power in the first place. When replacing your AC unit, think about whether you really need central air conditioning, or if a small window AC unit will do.
Always choose the right size and horsepower of AC based on the size of the room so you won’t have to purchase a big one whose cooling potential will simply be wasted in a small room. As compared to central air units, window or portable air conditioning units use up to 50% less energy.
More importantly, look at the Energy Star rating of the AC unit. This determines the percentage of electricity that you will save when using the appliance. Typically, the higher the Energy Star rating, the more electricity you will save.
You can also take more frequent showers, close off the vents in your house to prevent cooled air from escaping, check your ducts, use less lighting, and turn off the air conditioning unit when not in use. Nobody said that you have to suffer the heat when you can conveniently use an air conditioner to cool off. However, this does not mean that you should waste money on astronomical electricity bills, either. By following these tips, you can keep yourself and your home cool – without paying too high a price for it.
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