It’s easy to become irritable during hot summer months, so the last thing you want is to open up a hefty electric bill. Take advantage of these money-saving tips to keep your cooling costs down even while the temperature gets high this summer.
Use a dehumidifier
Certain areas of the US are notorious for high humidity during summer months, which can significantly add to the heat’s discomfort. Josh Richman of eComfort.com notes that while your air conditioning system is designed to remove moisture from the air, adding a dehumidifier can be more efficient, allowing your AC to focus solely on the cooling process.
Close off unused areas
eComfort.com also recommends shutting the door to storage closets or empty bedrooms, as an easy way to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioning – so that cooled air isn’t wasted on unused space.
Arrange electronics wisely
“Avoid placing appliances or electronics near your thermostat, as it will sense the heat that is given off by these machines,” says Josh Richman of eComfort.com. “This will cause your air conditioning system to think the temperature of the room is higher than it actually is and work harder than necessary to cool the space.”
Similarly, do not place lamps and other heat-emitting fixtures too close to the thermostat.
Stay up to date on maintenance
Your air conditioner will work the hardest in mid- to late-summer, so it’s important to make sure your cooling system is ready. eComfort.com recommends having a professional come out and check on your appliance sooner rather than later. That way you won’t be stuck paying for emergency repairs in the midst of unbearable August heat.
Keep all vents open
Colin Martodam of ARS Air Conditioning recommends keeping all vents open, even in the rooms that you don’t want to cool. “Closed vents make the air conditioning unit work overtime, which uses more energy and costs you more money,” he says. “Closing vents can impact how the system inhales and exhales air; in other words, it can throw the system out of balance, causing your AC unit to have to work harder or possibly break down.”
Don’t lower the temperature to “cool faster”
Many people set their AC unit to a lower temperature than they actually need because they think it will work faster. “It won’t,” says Martodam of ARS Air Conditioning. “The AC unit takes hot air in the home and replaces it with cool air at a set rate of speed. All you’ll be doing is running up the electricity bill, not cooling your home faster.”
Don’t keep the ceiling fan running when you’re not home
“Fans cool your skin, not the air. Fans do not lower room temperature,” says Martodam. “A fan works by circulating the air in a space; when the air moves across the skin we feel cooler even though the air temperature in the room remains the same. If a fan runs in a room when no one is there, no one is feeling its benefits, so it’s just raising your monthly electricity bill.”
Avoid the oven and use your microwave instead
“Your microwave uses less energy to heat your food and helps keep your house cool by not producing as much heat,” notes Kelsey Swindler who works with Dropoly, an online energy savings game. It’s also a faster way to cook.
Avoid using your clothes dryer
“Your dryer is just another heated device that will make your home feel warmer and cost you extra money on the energy required to heat it. Opt for a clothes line or clothes spinner instead,” says Swindler of Dropoly.
Turn off electronics
“Powering down your computer, sound system and other energy-guzzling electronics when you’re not using them will reduce the heat put off by these systems,” says money saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Your AC won’t have to work as hard cooling your home, and your living space will be more comfortable.”
Close up shop
“It’s easy to forget to close up when you’re rushing out of the house in the morning,” says Woroch. “Windows left open from the night before will allow sun and warm air in your home throughout the day. Before you head out, close windows and blinds to mitigate the sun’s rays from warming your home.”
For more tips on saving money with DIY fix-ups, check out our home maintenance series.