Air conditioning bills seem to go up every year. This could be the result of a warming climate. Maybe the ever-increasing cost of electricity. Or even the result of the current state of our economy.
Whatever the reason is, one thing is for sure. Nobody wants to pay more for air conditioning than they have to!
So what can you do about this? How can you save money on your air conditioning electric bill?
Here are ten ways to save money on your air conditioning electric bill this summer…
Tip 1 - Switch to Energy Saving Appliances
Older appliances put off more heat than newer ones. This heat adds more strain to your AC system to cool your house down. Not only this, but they use more energy themselves as well. Kill two birds with one stone by switching to energy-saving appliances.
As your appliances become due for replacement, look for Energy-Star appliances. This is a quick reference to assure you that they have met a certain standard of efficiency.
The best method of selecting efficient appliances that won’t overheat your house is to look for the Energy Guide label. This shows both the estimated operating cost per year and yearly electrical use in kWh. The lower the consumption, the less work on your HVAC system.
For laundry washing machines, make sure your washer is an “HE”, or “high efficiency” washing machine. Not only do these use less water, but they also use less heat and electricity.
Tip 2 - Change Your Light Bulbs and Fixtures
Old incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lights can put off a lot of heat. They can also increase our electric bills all on their own. Once again, you have the option of solving two problems just by making one change.
Switch your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LEDs put off extremely little heat. Look for bulbs that have at least 80 lumens per watt or higher. You can get them at over 100 lumens per watt, but they cost a little more. The idea is that the more lumens (light) per watt, the less heat is produced. That way, you'll save money on both cooling and lighting your home.
Tip 3 - Use Fans to Cool Yourself
Have you seen the “feels like” temperature on your favorite weather app? It's generally a little hotter than the actual temperature on hot humid days with little wind. But cooler than the real temperature on breezy days. Indoors, we can create our own "feels like" temperature to cool us down without cranking up the ac, simply by creating our own indoor breeze…
The human body is great at cooling itself down through “evaporative cooling.” This means that the air flowing over our skin evaporates some moisture. This evaporation process is nature's own built-in air conditioning. You can improve this process by sitting next to or underneath a fan.
Tip 4 - Cool Yourself Down Before Cooling Your House Down
Bringing down the temperature of an entire home to cool off isn’t very efficient. Instead consider cooling yourself down first, then bring down the thermostat as needed. Here are a few ways to keep yourself cool while avoiding dropping your thermostat a couple degrees:
- Eat cold treats or drink cool beverages. I personally enjoy my ice water. Not only does it keep me cool and comfortable, but it’s refreshing and healthy to boot.
- Sit in a shaded area of your home. Sunlight will warm the surfaces of your house and this heat will radiate to you, overheating your body. Enjoy the view of the outdoors from a window with an overhang or non-south-facing window.
- Take cooler showers or go for a swim. Sometimes we opt for taking a hot shower in the middle of summer, just to crank up the ac once we get out of the shower. It’s not very practical when you think about it… Try taking a warm or cool shower, especially wrapping it up as cold as you can take it. A nice swim in a nearby lake or river will have a similar effect.
- Changing the way you dress can help as well. Choose thinner materials that breathe well and make sure they aren’t too tight as this will restrict airflow and prevent your body from natural evaporative cooling.
Tip 5 - Time Your Workouts in the Cooler Parts of the Day
When it’s cold outside, nothing warms you up faster than working out. Unfortunately, this is true when it’s warm outside as well. Go for a mid-afternoon jog and you’re going to have a tough time cooling down. You’ll end up cranking up the AC and your electric bill will go up along with it.
This problem can be fixed just by changing the timing of your workouts. Instead of working out in the afternoon or evening, work out early in the morning. The temperature will be cooler in the morning and you’ll have the option of taking a nice cold shower afterward to cool yourself down.
Tip 6 - Cook Outside
Some of us have nice outdoor kitchen areas or living spaces. Others of us simply have a grill. Either way, there’s just something about cooking outdoors that highlights the summer fun. But more than simply for fun and entertaining, cooking outdoors also reduces the strain on your indoor air conditioning.
Ovens and stovetops can put off a tremendous amount of heat. This heat warms up your house and makes your AC unit work harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to always cook inside. Take advantage of the nice summer weather and do more of your cooking outside!
Tip 7 - Reduce Or Modify The Way You Use Your Household Appliances
Washers, dryers, and dishwashers all generate heat. This is especially true when you use the "hot water" setting. Try running your washing machine on cold or warm and you’ll reduce the amount of heat your washing machine puts off. When you’re done washing, line-dry your clothes and use your dryer to fluff up the clothes without heat. This way, you’ll end up with soft clothes without the extra heat.
Most of us don’t enjoy hand washing dishes, so I won’t recommend you stop using your dishwasher. I will however recommend that you switch to washing your dishes in the morning or at night. This will ensure that the extra heat of your dishwasher isn’t added to the daytime sun’s heat. You’ll end up with less overall strain on your system and save money.
Tip 8 - Plant Shade Trees
Thermal curtains stop the sun from getting in through your windows, but they can’t stop it from heating your home completely. To do this, you’ll need to stop the sun from hitting your home altogether. A natural way to do this is to plant some large shade-giving trees on the southern side of your home. This will reduce the amount of time the sun spends heating your home while also providing you with a windbreak during the cold winter months of the year.
Deciduous trees are the best choice. They shade well in the summer and let more sunlight through in the winter. Here in Southside Virginia, maple, chestnut, ash, and oak are great choices. But there are many more great choices that look beautiful for landscaping and help regulate your home temperature. Check out Virginia Tech’s guide for selecting landscaping shade trees for 27 great options to choose from.
Tip 9 - Paint Your House a Lighter Color
Did you know that dark, dull colors can absorb 70 to 90 percent of the sun’s radiant energy? The Department of Energy found that homes with dark-colored exterior paint heat up a home more than with lighter colors.
The opposite of this is also true. Light-colored surfaces can reflect heat away from the home. If your home is a dar shade of blue perhaps a few shades lighter will still look great and not overheat your house. The same goes for dark shades of green, gray, or any other dark color. This helps to passively keep your home cooler in warm weather.
Tip 10 - Spend The Day at the Lake
Not everyone wants to spend their weekends painting their homes, planting trees, and hanging their laundry out to dry. Instead of running through your honey-do list to save money, why not take a trip out to Banister Lake or Kerr Reservoir?
The temperatures near the water are generally ten degrees cooler. You’ll have a lot more fun fishing, swimming, or just chilling at the lake than you would have sitting at home. On top of that, you can raise the thermostat a little while you're gone, and once you come back, the day will be cooled off already.
Keeping Your Home Comfortable in the Summer
Here at Solutions Heating and Cooling, we believe in maintaining comfort in the home. But there are plenty of ways to reduce your energy bill and still maintain your comfort. We hope you enjoyed these tips and found some of them useful.
Have allergies got the best of you? Check out 9 steps to make your home an allergen-free safe haven.
Want help optimizing your HVAC system and lowering your bills? We’ll be happy to talk over the best plan to put your system in tip-top shape.
Just give us a call at (434) 222-0541