Just when you think you’re out of the high costs of energy to heat your home, summer heat comes along and with it, high cooling costs.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple, common sense ways you can help reduce your cooling costs without spending a fortune…here’s 11 of them.:
1. Stop up the leaks
Unless you’ve just moved into a brand new house, you could have cold air seeping out of your home around windows, doors, your attic, etc.
Contact your local utility provider to schedule a home energy audit or do the audit yourself by standing outside of your home and feeling for cold air coming out from around the doors and windows. If you do feel cool air, add caulk around leaky windows and add insulation around your door frames.
Also, if your attic needs it, have more insulation added to keep your air conditioning unit from working harder than it has to.
2. Use fans
Fans can help you save on energy costs. When you turn on a ceiling fan it can help the room feel as much as 10 degrees cooler, yet it requires a fraction of the energy that your central air conditioner soaks up.
If you want to get high tech, there are even “smart” fans you can control with your smartphone to turn – or off – your fans remotely if you’ve forgotten when you leave the house or to even schedule them to run at certain times of the day.
No ceiling fans?
No problem. Even a portable fan, strategically placed, can help to cool a room for less.
3. Close the blinds
If you’re gone during the day, close up all of your blinds to minimize the sun heating up your home.
While you’re at home, if you want to enjoy the outside view, remember to close blinds as the sun moves over your house to prevent heat from driving up your energy costs as it pours through your windows.
Blinds also act as insulators to keep cold air from escaping.
4. Turn up the thermostat
An obvious, but effective way to save on your home cooling costs is to set your thermostat to a higher temperature.
Some people believe that keeping the thermostat at a constant temperature is better for the AC unit than turning it up and down, but in reality, the least expensive way to use your air conditioner is to adjust the thermostat…setting it higher while you’re gone and then turning it down when you return.
This is because AC units are work best at full speed for a longer period of time so when you drop it to a lower temperature after being gone all day it saves you more than if it were to cycle on and off while you’re away.
5. Install a smart thermometer
A smart thermometer can not only save money by keeping a more accurate measure of temperature changes, it can be programmed to run at a higher temperature when you’re gone and then set to cool down right before you get back home.
You can also adjust it on the go for those times when your plans change and you know you’ll make it home later than you’d planned. All it takes is a few swipes of your smartphone and you can make adjustments to the schedule.
6. Move your thermometer
If your thermostat is near any kind of heat source (e.g. next to a window where the sun’s shining in) its measurement of the air temperature can be thrown off by several degrees. This will cause your AC to run more frequently than it needs to.
7. Get an AC checkup
Autumn is actually the best time to get an AC checkup because air conditioning experts aren’t quite as busy as they are during the hot summer season.
Cleaning out a clogged AC unit filter can save as much as 5% to 15% in energy…and it will extend the life of your unit.
However, if your unit isn’t cooling like it used to in spite of a clean filter, schedule an appointment to have it looked at and if necessary, get it replaced. While you might not like the cost of a new one, your energy bill could be cut significantly with the installation of a new, more efficient air conditioner.
8. Shut off AC to rooms you’re not using
If there are rooms that you’re not using, shut off the vents to those rooms and you’ll send more of that cool air to other areas of the house.
9. Bring the outside in
On cooler, breezy days…or comfortable, cool nights, consider opening your windows on opposite sides of your house to let cross ventilation work its magic. Add fans to help push the cooler air throughout your home for much less cost than running your AC unit.
10. Plant large bushes or trees to shade your home
Plants not only lend beauty to a landscape, they also work especially well at blocking sunlight. Plant shrubs and trees along the south and west sides of your house in front of windows to absorb both heat and light.
Plants that shade your outdoor A/C unit are also a smart idea because they can raise your air conditioner’s efficiency by as much as 10%.
11. Cook outside
Our ancestors often had summer kitchens to keep the main home from getting overheated, and while some people do create outside kitchens, it’s more common than not that we’ll be using our kitchens all year round.
On really hot days consider planning meals that require no cooking, or prepare foods that can be cooked outside on the grill or in the microwave to keep from heating up your kitchen…and causing your AC to run more often to keep things cool.