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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Save on Your Air Conditioning Bill

The weather is heating up in our part of the country. We have had several days in the 90’s this past week. However the weatherman is calling for some cooler weather latter this week. For many people air conditioning season is upon us.
Air Conditioning is perhaps the biggest budget buster in the summertime.  It is not uncommon for electric bills to more than double in the summertime. So how to you keep from having sticker shock when you open the electric bill?
  • Set your thermostat higher. Choose a temperature as high as you can be comfortable. During the height of summer when outside temps can reach 100+ here during the day, we keep ours at 80 degrees. My reasoning is that 80 is a comfortable temperature outside when there is a breeze and no humidity.
  • Which brings me to the second point. Turn on ceiling fans if you have them. A ceiling fan will lower the temperature in the room by 5 degrees. So that brings my 80 degrees down to a manageable 75. Make sure the fans are going n the right direction.
  • When the sun comes up close the curtains. Better yet get some curtains that are insulated, not only do they keep out the cold in the summer they keep out the heat in the summer.
  • If you are lucky enough to have the temperature drop when the sun goes down, open the windows at night. Sometimes it is cooler outside then it is inside
  • If it is only marginally warm, open one window downstairs and one window upstairs, at the opposite side of the house. This will create a draft effect and pull the cool air though the house.
  • Plan your cooking for the coolest time of the day. Double up on cooking. Cook twice as much so as not to heat the kitchen up.
  • Change your light bulbs to CFL – compact fluorescent light bulbs. Not only are they more energy efficient, they do not give off heat the way a conventional light bulb.
  • Make sure all of your vents are clear and not covered by furniture.
  • Don’t run the clothes dryer or any other appliances that heat up during the hottest time of the day. 
  • Use your clothesline 


    Annie Jones said...

    Good tips. It's only May, but I've already used a few of these tips, like cooking when it's coolest and doubling up on dishes.

    We have a whole house fan (sometimes called an attic fan) and a laundry chute to our basement. I sometimes turn on that fan and open the chute and pull up cool air from the basement.

    granola catholic said...

    Annie, that is a great one too. I wish we had an attic fan. When I was growing up, my mother used to put a box fan in the attic window and reverse it so that she was pulling the heat out of the house. It seemed to work for us then.

    Budgets are the New Black said...

    Americans have this thing for natural light that we do not tend to have for natural air. They will sooner turn on the AC than draw the curtains closed, for instance. I also think our wall-to-wall carpeting factors in: makes a room warmer than tiled floor, or wood or marble. Central air and closed doors also lend toward a more isolated society -- not so much sitting on porches and drinking ice tea. Sad, really. Then there's the computer era which requires certain temps in work areas, although a fan would suffice for a personal pc at home... I'll stop now. :)

    Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

    I completely agree, as I sit here in my house it is 90 degrees outside. The curtains are closed, the ceiling fans are on and the a/c is set to 80 degrees. I am perfectly comfortable right now. NO sweat on my brow. It is all about acclimation. As for our computers, my laptop has a build in fan to cool it off. I remember a summer spent on the French Riviera where temps stayed above 90. No-one had central air. We had ocean breezes though and shutters closed during the day and open at night. I am a fan of natural light too. But I don't see a need to turn on a lamp right now as there is enough light seeping in the corners of my curtains.

    Summer said...

    Another thing that really effects house temps is mature trees (or the lack thereof). My house is in the middle of an open field and can get into the mid 80s with the AC constantly running. At my MIL's house just down the road they have no AC and there house is always comfortable with fans. The difference is the trees! They are surrounded by very mature trees. I realize this is not really an easy fix, but planting trees is definitely on our to-do list to save on our energy bill.

    Jessica said...

    Great tips! 78 is as low as we can go here, but it's often over 100 and doesn't get much cooler than that at night. 80 is a good goal though.

    Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

    Jessica, we are hitting 111 this week, so the a/c has been bumped up. With the outside temps above 105, the a/c is set to 85 believe it or not. That is my threshold. But we have ceiling fans and and half of our house is built into the side of a hill. So it stays about 5 degrees cooler than the set temp at all times. At 85 it feels like 80 upstairs, under a ceiling fan and downstairs like 75. Quite nice. Warm but nice. Thank goodness this is a dry heat and no humidity.

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