Summer can get real hot. In many parts of the country, air conditioning is a necessity. Be it a central-air system or an old-fashioned wall unit, your home’s air conditioner is a major energy sink and a huge potential liability. If you want to waste your hard-earned money and consume more resources in the process, you can’t do much better than running your air conditioner improperly or excessively.
Getting your air conditioning costs under control, and saving resources in the process, can be done by following the easy-to-remember tips.
1. Use Your Surroundings
Your air conditioner is like an employee that pays for herself: She’ll work harder if you treat her better. Help your air conditioner out by planting shade trees and shrubs along the western and southern sides of your house to deflect the sun’s rays during the hottest part of the day. Also, place the air conditioner itself in a permanently-shaded area to keep it from overheating.
If you do not want to plant trees, consider purchasing sun shades for your windows to better deflect the intensity of the sun’s rays.
2. Run a Tight House
Patching up drafty windows and re-insulating thin walls should be a year-round project, not just another step on your winter-preparedness checklist. Repair leaks as soon as you discover them to avoid steadily increasing summer energy bills. Your attic should be the exception to this rule: Since heat rises, a well-ventilated attic with a well-functioning attic fan is essential during the warm months.
3. Practice Hybrid Cooling
Your air conditioner isn’t a one-size-fits-all comfort solution. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, you’ll need to run your air conditioner on triple-digit days, but try to avoid using it as much when it’s merely uncomfortably warm. If they’re not there already, install ceiling fans in commonly-used rooms and run them on a higher setting on warm days when said rooms are in use.
4. Be Reflective
Shade trees aren’t the only inexpensive exterior home improvement project that can save you loads on your air conditioning bill. Consider changing your home’s exterior color to a lighter hue like beige or off-white, especially if you live in a sunny climate, to reflect more solar energy. Likewise, tinted windows will keep the inside of your home darker and cooler, which is nice if you like to sleep late anyway.
5. Turn Off and Unplug
Appliances, overhead lights and electronic devices are all big net generators of heat, so turn them off and unplug them when they’re not being used. Your desktop computer is a particularly pesky heat sink, and its cooling fan does nothing but distribute that energy throughout your home. As an added bonus, turning off unnecessary electric lights and appliances is a great way to lower your overall energy costs.
6. Make the Best of It
If you’re creative about it, you won’t even feel the sacrifices you need to make to keep your air conditioning costs down. Grilling outdoors to avoid flooding your house with heat from your kitchen’s stovetop and oven is arguably more fun than cooking indoors anyway, and washing dishes by hand can be a fun family experience. Just remember to thank yourself each month when you pay that teensy-tiny electric bill.
John Reynolds authored this article on behalf of Private Medical Care Hospitals a website where you can find the information you need to make informed health insurance purchasing decisions.