Air conditioning, on average, accounts for 16 percent of household electricity consumption. Shrink your bills with these simple suggestions.
- Turn off the AC: Fans are cheaper to run than air conditioners. Let the fresh air in for at least a few hours each day by opening windows on opposite sides of the house and running a fan to keep the air circulating. A ceiling fan and an open window likely can keep you cool while you sleep at night.
- Counter the heat: Even with the AC on, a ceiling fan running counterclockwise will allow you to raise the thermostat up to four degrees with no change in comfort. Remember, fans cool people, not air, so be sure to turn them off when you leave a room.
- Set temperature limits: Keep your thermostat no lower than 78 degrees in the summer.
- Remove debris: Whether you have window units or central air, keep outdoor AC components in the shade as much as possible to optimize efficiency. Clear vents of weeds and branches.
- Close curtains: Having your shades drawn during the day will cool rooms from the sun.
- Use less energy: Run major appliances (like your dishwasher and washing machine) at night -- when electricity costs less -- on low heat.
- Make an appointment with a professional: If you have central air, get the system serviced annually to clean ducts and fix any leaks.
- Seal it up: To keep the heat out, weather-strip doors, caulk windows and insert foam behind outlet covers. Buy attic insulation that has a high R-value (a measure of how well it insulates your house from changes in temperature).
- Dry the air: With a dehumidifier, you can raise the thermostat three degrees without feeling a difference.
- Check for dirt: For greater AC efficiency, clean the filter monthly.
- Harness the power of nature: Plant trees and bushes on the south side of your house to enjoy shade in the summer.