Some “Hot” Tips on Lowering Your Air Conditioning Bills
The heat is on and if you are like most homeowners, the end of the month electric bill can be a real surprise to you and your wallet. In lieu of just sweating in your house and losing sleep, this might be the time to do something. Here are some tips, both long term and short term, to help you deal with this heat.
1. Upgrade your Furnace/AC unit
I think this might be really obvious, but many people struggle with why they should pull the trigger. So instead they end up sweating in their house and still get large electric bills. The payoff over time will outweigh the initial cost. To answer your other questions: 1) Yes, your quality of life may go up. 2) Yes, your home value may increase. 3) Yes, your dog will love you more.
2. Replace your Windows
If your home is 15 or more years old, there is a chance you have inefficient windows. You can cut the utility costs with newer energy efficient windows. Other reasons to motivate you for window replacement would be ease of cleaning, ease of venting, increased sound barrier, better views, improved quality of life, and increased home value.
2. Seal your windows
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.
3. Install a programmable thermostat
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. Please note: On very hot days, setting the temperature swing too large may result in your AC not being able to keep up.
4. Use ceiling fans
Modern ceiling fans are able to circulate cool air with a lower electrical draw then an AC unit. Very effective for moving air into rooms that might not have an air conditioning unit in the window.
5. Replace your HVAC air filters
Dirty air filters prevent air from easily flowing through them. You’ll want to replace your filters at least every few months, and possibly more if you have pets or kids.
6. Avoid cooking indoors
Cooking generates a lot of heat and sometimes add unwanted humidity in the air. This is counter-productive for maxed out air conditioners. Outdoor cooking a couple meals a week will certainly help the utility bill especially during really hot days. Also, crockpot style of cooking produces much less heat then an oven or open burners.
7. Reduce the sunlight
Sunlight coming through the glass of your windows will actually add to your indoor temperature. Keeping shades or drapes closed during the hot times of the day will ensure a cooler home when you return from work. A more permanent solution would be planting some shade trees outside the sun-lit windows.
8. Insulate your walls and attics
Beside windows, your walls and ceilings also leak air. Having these areas air sealed and professionally insulated is one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency. With tax credits and incentives it is definitely worth the investment.
9. Find lower ground
Heat rises, so stay cool by staying in the lower areas of the house. Setting up camp in the rec room for a couple days may allow you to leave your thermostat set to a higher temperature for longer periods during the day. You can lower the temperature at night if your bedroom’s upstairs.
10. Get your air conditioning system serviced
Servicing your air conditioning system can keep your system working efficiently. Cleaning of outdoor coils, checking voltage connections, and checking the levels of refrigerant will provide peace of mind and ensure proper operation.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Clint Pharo is a local HVAC Contractor in Madison, WI. He and his team of HVAC professionals at Pharo Heating & Cooling cover a broad range of services in commercial buildings, new home construction, and residential homes and locally represent Bryant Heating and Cooling Products. He regularly posts on his company’s blog at www.PharoHeating.com.