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Keep Your Cool and Your Cash by Cutting AC Costs

Keep Your Cool and Your Cash by Cutting AC Costs By Cyndi Cohen
Published July 5, 2012
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You’ve been waiting all year and summer is finally here! That glorious season filled with the joys of sunshine, long days, beach vacations, poolside parties, ice cream cones, and fire flies. Unfortunately, along with the rising temperatures of the season often comes the rising cost of cooling your home. But don’t get heated! You don’t have to let expensive utility bills put a damper on your summertime spirit or a deficit in your bank account. By following a few simple tips you can lower your air conditioning costs this summer and still manage to stay cool.

5 Tips on Lowering Air Conditioning Costs from Credit Unions Online

  1. Protect your home’s exterior

Since experts agree that homes typically heat up as a result of direct sunlight penetrating the roof and windows, a great idea to eliminate that impact is to protect your home as much as possible with plants and window coverings. Leafy trees around the outside of your house as well as around the air conditioner itself will create shade, keep temperatures down, and even increase the efficiency of your cooling unit saving you up to 30 percent in summer cooling costs. As an added bonus, plants will add to your home’s exterior beauty, create outdoor shade for relaxing al fresco, and provide tons of eco-friendly oxygen.

Window shields such as Solar or mesh screens act as sun sponges soaking up nearly 70% of the sun’s energy before it reaches a home’s interior, and even more so on windows that face the East and West. These screens work well with windows either open or closed and can also help to keep insect friends from entering your home.

  1. Be thermostat savvy

If the temp on your thermostat resides lower than 76-78 degrees on average, you may want to think about raising it, especially when you’re not home and when everyone is asleep. By taking this one small step you can actually save between 6 and 18 percent on your next cooling bill. The closer your thermostat temperature is to the outdoor temperatures, the lower your bill will be, so set it as high as possible during these summer months. If you’re having trouble regulating the thermostat, a programmable version may be your best bet - they can save up to $150 a year on energy costs when used properly.

Another setting adjustment you may want to make is to the air conditioner’s fan speed. Normally it should be set to high. However, on humid days, it is best to switch to low since that slower air movement will help the process of drying the moist air and making your home feel cooler.

  1. Think efficiency when it comes to AC

In order to keep your air conditioner running smoothly and as efficiently as possible, and in turn, reducing your cooling bills, it is important to keep up on maintenance to be aware of any necessary repairs. Things like changing the filter periodically and keeping the unit level can help you get the most from your air conditioner.

When the time comes to replace your air conditioning unit with a new one, opt for one that has been dubbed energy efficient by the Energy Star system. This system was put in place by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to help consumers find and purchase more eco-friendly products that use less energy.

  1. Fans are the thing

Fans are a great cooling tool to keep people comfortable during the heat of the summer, while limiting the use of the AC. Ceiling and window fans help to circulate indoor air. If you’re not using AC, open the windows on your home’s lower level and run fans on the upper level. If your dwelling is one level, open windows away from the fan and close those that are close-by the fan.

If you are using air conditioning along with the fan, try raising the thermostat setting about 4°F and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the same level of comfort. Don’t forget to turn fans off when you leave the room since they are ideally meant for helping to cool people rather than the room itself.

  1. Just chill out! – hang out in the basement, take a cool shower, don’t cook

When trying to stay cool without overdoing the AC think of obvious things to beat the heat. Retire to the basement or lower level where temps are probably about 10 degrees cooler. Be sure to keep humidity out and cool air in by keeping basement windows closed.

Enjoy some refreshing summertime eats like a refreshing beverage, light salad, chilled fruit, or a frozen treat like ice cream and popsicles. Avoid using the oven or stove, especially during the daytime.

Bring your body temp down and your comfort level up with a cool shower, a cold compress, spray bottle, or hand fan. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, go for a swim. Sometimes simply relaxing in the shade or in the coolest part of your home can help.

It’s easy to enjoy those much anticipated summer months while staying cool, calm, and collected with your finances intact. Here’s to an endless summer free of pesky AC bills!

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