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Tips to cut cooling costs during the dog days of summer
Willis Carrier may not be a household name, but his 1902 invention has had an enormous impact on the world. Carrier invented the world’s first electric air conditioner and founded a corporation that today still manufactures air conditioning products.
Once a luxury, air conditioners are now standard in American homes and commercial buildings, even in northern climes where the heat is generally less intense.
Many people have love-hate relationships with their air conditioners. They absolutely love the cooling ability, but almost all AC units require a significant amount of electricity to effectively lower indoor temperatures and reduce humidity. Thus, summertime electric bills can skyrocket when air conditioners are running many hours of the day and night.
Because most power companies charge higher rates in the summer due to increased demand, the monthly cost can be a jolt to your wallet. The following are a few of the most effective ways to keep your electricity expenses in check.
Turn your thermostat up
This is the easiest and simplest way to save. Instead of keeping your air conditioner set so low it never shuts off, try moving your thermostat to a temperature that’s comfortable. A good starting point is 75 degrees. If that proves to be relatively comfortable, try bumping it up a degree a day until you reach a threshold where you know one more degree is out of your comfort zone.
Many people in very hot climates set their thermostats on 80 degrees in the summer and find that it’s an easy adjustment. It’s obviously a personal preference, but the NEWS reports that, in some areas of the country, just a one-degree change in the thermostat can save 10 to 15 percent on summer cooling for the first few degrees above 75.
Fans make a huge difference
If you’re committed to setting your thermostat higher, consider investing in ceiling and floor fans with the extra cash you’ll save. They are inexpensive and will help you feel comfortable. According to the National Resource Defense Council’s Smarter Living Program, fans require about 10 percent of the electricity needed to power an air conditioning unit, yet can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler. Fans can make it easy to set a thermostat at 80 degrees or more in the summer.
Draw blinds and curtains during the day
Sunlight beaming through windows warms a home rapidly, which is great in the winter, but not so wonderful in the summer. By closing blinds and drapes to block the sunlight, you can help keep inside temperatures in check and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Older homes and buildings are inherently less energy efficient than those constructed more recently, but even new homes can have their problems. Many electric and gas companies conduct free or low-cost energy audits to help identify areas where consumers can save on power costs.
The most common problems revealed are poor sealing around doors, windows, electrical outlets and ductwork where air escapes and makes cooling (and winter heating) less efficient. Applying weather stripping and caulking is simple and inexpensive to seal doors, windows and outlets, and wrapping leaky ductwork with airtight tape takes minutes to complete.
Bigger is not always better
A common misconception among homeowners is that a larger air conditioning unit will cool better and work more efficiently. While the first part of that statement is true, the “conditioning” part of the equation – removing humidity – may not work so well.
A larger unit will cool more quickly, but will cut on and off more frequently and thus may not allow moisture to be removed from the air as effectively. Therefore, when buying an air conditioner, you should go with one that is recommended for a certain range of square footage and avoid the temptation to buy a bigger, more expensive unit.
Need cash to buy an air conditioner or to pay for energy-efficient upgrades to your home? LightStream may be able to help!