Summer Housing Help - Save Money & Power - Part 2
Clean (Or Replace) Your AC Units
If you really can't live without your AC during the summer, you need to make sure it's in the best possible shape to provide you with efficient cooling. First and foremost, ensure that your air conditioning units have clean filters. Depending on where you live, some air conditioning filters may need cleaning every month to remain efficient. Dirty filters can make your unit work harder and use more power to cool your room.
If your air conditioners are old or you suspect that they are not working well, call in a specialist to check your system for leaks and evaluate its overall cooling efficiency. A specialist may advise you to purchase a new unit that will save you in electricity costs in the long-run. If your air conditioner is more than ten years old, you will almost certainly save money by replacing it.
Having a specialist check your air conditioning units over will also safeguard you and your family from any potential health risks associated with poorly maintained units. Some utility companies provide rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances. It can't hurt to ask!
Use Your Thermostat Correctly
Some people crank their thermostats right down (lowering the temperature) whenever they feel hot, which causes the air conditioning unit to go into overdrive to try and reduce the temperature. The problem is that these people may then forget to turn it up, even when they leave the house. That's a sure way to send your bill through the roof.
Always set your thermostat to the highest temperature you can comfortably handle. Once it's there, don't touch it. Don't force your air conditioning system to consume an enormous amount of power trying to achieve a temperature that it might not be able to reach.
Turning your air conditioning off overnight is another easy way to save money on your power bills if you can cope with the temperature. Getting the room cool and then using a fan can save serious money.
Make sure your thermostat is in the best possible place. Don't put a thermostat in an area that experiences temperature extremes, such as next to a window or door. Likewise, your thermostat shouldn't be placed on an exterior wall because they are often cooler than other walls in your home. Avoid hallways and rooms that you don't use much. The thermostat won't be reading the temperature in the area you want to cool.
A programmable thermostat can be well worth the minimal investment, especially if you are out of your house at regular intervals. Some utility companies will provide you with rebates for installing a programmable thermostat, so be sure to ask!
Create Additional Shade
Last, but certainly not least, is a more long-term strategy for reducing your summer cooling costs, and that's planting trees to create shade.
Take a good look at your home and decide which windows and walls receive the most sunlight. Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west and northwest sides of your house can provide soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce your air conditioning costs as a result.
Shaded air conditioning units also run more efficiently than those that find themselves in direct sunlight all day.
The Bottom Line
Cooling is expensive, especially if you live in a warm area. One Texas utility states that air conditioning accounts for 60-70% of a typical summer electric bill!
With figures like those on the line, it's worth putting some time and effort into streamlining your summer electricity use. We hope the points listed here provide you with a good start!