Let’s face it – it’s HOT. And this summer, we are spending a lot more time at home than usual. So how can we reduce our air conditioning bills without sweating while sitting still? Check out these tips to help lower your cooling bill without lowering your comfort level.
Get a Smart Thermostat or Adjust the Temperature When You’re Not Home
The main principle here is to raise the temperature while you are at work, etc. so that your air conditioner isn’t working so hard when there’s no one home to keep cool. The U.S. Department of Energy says the goal temperature in your home should be 78 degrees, if you can handle the heat. If you aren’t a big fan of that idea, raising your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees just while you’re at work (or for about eight hours a day) can still save you 10% on your annual cooling bill. The smaller the difference between the inside temperature and the outside temperature, the better your cooling bill will look.
Smart thermostats are great because you can program them to change the temperature for you so you never forget. You can also adjust settings remotely if you will suddenly be away from home longer or if you need to turn the air back on sooner than expected. If you don’t want to invest in one right now, however, raising the temperature manually gives you the same bill-lowering benefits as long as you’re consistent.
Make Sure Your Thermostat is Away from Appliances and Lamps
Thermostats that detect the temperature and adjust accordingly are very convenient, but their placement can determine how well your AC system works. Don’t place them near lamps, TV’s, ovens, windows, or other appliances that give off a lot of heat. These items can trick the thermostat into thinking its hotter than it really is and make your air conditioning work harder than is necessary. Try to place it on an interior wall of an area that is used a lot. Hallways, for example are usually a good place for a thermostat as long as they aren’t receiving a lot of direct sunlight.
Add a Ceiling Fan
If you don’t already have one, adding a ceiling fan or portable fan can be a great way to save money on your cooling bill. While fans don’t actually lower the temperature, they keep the air moving and increase the evaporation from your skin, making the room feel 5 to 10 degrees cooler. Only use fans when someone is in the room to avoid wasting energy since they do not actually cool the room.
Add or Close Window Coverings
Who doesn’t love natural lighting? We all do… except maybe your air conditioning bill. Adding or closing window coverings, such as black out curtains and blinds, can help deflect heat from coming into your house, therefore making less work for your AC units. You can even try window coverings with foil or another reflective material on the back if you want to step it up a notch.
Clear Your Air Vents
Make sure that all of your air vents are free of obstruction by furniture, curtains, or other décor. The air needs to be able to get out of all vents freely in order to properly cool the room. If it has been a while, you should also remove all vents and clean them. You might be surprised at the amount of dust that can build up over time and hinder the cold air from distributing correctly.
Make Sure Cold Air isn’t Getting Out
It takes a lot of money to cool your entire neighborhood. Make sure your doors, windows, and any openings for HVAC, electric, etc. are properly insulated so cold air is not escaping, leaving your AC unit trying to cool more than just your home. Your attic should also be well insulated to keep cold air from escaping and hot air from coming down into your house.
If you need another reason not to cook tonight, this is it! We’re just kidding… mostly… but cooking outside on the grill, microwaving food, or ordering takeout are all good ways to reduce heat production in your home. The more heat you make, the harder your air conditioning unit has to work to cool your house. Using the dryer and the dishwasher also produce a lot of heat. Opt for hang-drying your clothes and air-drying your dishes when it is hot outside.
Properly Maintain Your HVAC System
It can be a hassle to have a repairman in your home, especially if there is nothing actually wrong, but it could save you a lot of money in the long run. HVAC systems should be checked and maintained by a professional at least once a year. Filters should be changed about every month depending on the filter and system type (you should be able to do this yourself.) Not only does this maintenance help to lower your cooling bill by keeping your system in top working order, it also helps extend the life of your equipment and prevents house fires caused by clogged or otherwise malfunctioning units.
For the Future: Plant Trees!
This tip won’t help you this summer, but it will help you in the future – plant trees around your home to shade it from the sun. The most heat is absorbed through your roof and from sun shining through the windows. You can plant trees around your home that will (eventually) shade your home from the sun. Until then, the window covering idea above can add a similar benefit for keeping sun from coming in the windows.
Is it Time to Upgrade Your HVAC System?
If your cooling bills are still insanely expensive and you’ve tried everything, you may need a new HVAC system. Other signs of needing a new system are:
- Lots of repairs needed often
- Your system is over 10 years old
- It makes lots of noise
- Your system has some old parts
If it’s time to upgrade your HVAC system, a home equity loan or home equity line of credit can be just the solution you need. Learn more about home equity loans or our Patriot equity line, or call or visit a branch to speak with one of our representatives to see how we can help you stay cool this summer.
For more money saving tips, check out the personal finance section of our Learning Center blog.