Many of us can stand the extreme heat that comes in the summer months for only so long, especially in Southwestern cities. Working, exercising and sometimes even sleeping in hot conditions can be extremely uncomfortable, even dangerous, for those without air conditioning.
Over the last several decades, air conditioning has changed the way we live and work. But the comfort and convenience air conditioning provides comes at a cost: $29 billion a year to the 75 percent of American homeowners who have an A/C unit!
A cumulative $29 billion is a lot, so educate yourself and save money. Use the guide below to learn the simplest ways you can cut down on the cost of A/C while staying cool during the summer.
If your home has old windows, they might not be energy efficient. You can cut the costs of cooling your home by installing new energy-efficient windows. Some upfront cost is involved, but you’ll make it up in the long run with lower bills. Additionally, poorly sealed windows leak air, which makes your air conditioning system work harder. Caulking leaks or cracks and weather stripping your windows will prevent cool air from leaking out of your windows.
Programmable thermostats cut energy usage by adjusting temperatures while you’re away or asleep. You can program them yourself or purchase one that slowly adapts to your temperature preferences. Some can even be set up with an app away from home. According to the Energy Department, you can save up to 10% annually by adjusting your temperature by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day. Programmable thermostats can automate the process.
Air filters keep your HVAC system running smoothly by preventing dust from blocking your vents and promoting air circulation. If the filters are dirty, your system will have to work harder to circulate air. You’ll want to replace your filters at least every few months, and possibly more if you have pets or kids. Luckily, air filters are cheap and easy to switch by yourself.
Sunlight streaming in through your windows raises the temperature of your home. By blocking the sunlight, you can calm that effect. Planting some shade trees outside your windows can curb encroaching sunlight while blackout shades or curtains are another low-cost option.
Windows aren’t the only part of your home that leak air. Attics, walls and crawl spaces lose air as well. Professionally insulating your home is one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency. If you have an older home, this could be worth the investment.
Hiring a local contractor to service your air conditioning system can keep your system working efficiently. Your contractor should clean outdoor coils, check voltage connections and make sure the refrigerant is at proper levels.
Solar panels, which are usually installed on roofs, use the sun’s energy to power a home, which can greatly reduce cooling costs. The price for installing these panels depends on whether they’re bought or leased, and the amount you save on your bill will depend on your energy usage and system.