Tips to Save Money on Your Air Conditioning Bill

How to use a window fan and other tips to help save on your air conditioning bill.

Fact: A well insulated home will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

If you have funds available then these are worthwhile investments to make:

  1. Low e windows are good at keeping heat out of your home.
  2. Multi pane windows are also good at insulating your home from the heat or cold outside.
  3. Check your attic insulation. The better it is insulated the better you can keep out unwanted heat in the Summer or cold in the Winter. If it does not look like it is insulated well then it probably isn’t and you can hire someone to spray more insulation into your attic.
  4. Install solar panels on your roof if you live in an area that receives a lot of sunshine during the year. Read 10 things to consider before installing solar panels.

INEXPENSIVE ITEMS AND THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP REDUCE YOUR AIR CONDITIONING ELECTRIC BILL

Not everyone has extra money lying around to make the home improvements listed above. However, there are other inexpensive things that can be done to help reduce your A/C electric bill.

  • It pays to invest in an outdoor thermometer so that you can see at the outdoor temperature outside compared to the indoor temperature. If you have to open a door or window to see if the air outside has cooled enough for you to open up the windows then you’ve probably just let some heat into your house just to discover that it’s still too hot outside.
  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible during the hot part of the day. If you open your door each time to collect the newspaper, collect the mail, water the flowers, walk the dog, etc. you’ve let a lot of heat into your house that your air conditioner will need to work hard to take back out. It’s best if you can plan better and combine those tasks so that you can minimize the number of times you need to open your door.
  • Keep window blinds and curtains closed unless you need the light. Blinds and curtains help to insulate your home by keeping light and heat out.
  • Close doors to rooms that are unoccupied. Also close the A/C vents to those rooms. Closed rooms will help to act as a buffer between the heat outside and the cool portion of your home inside. It will also decrease the workload on the air conditioner because now you have essentially decreased the size of the home that the A/C needs to cool.
  • Hot air rises so if you have a multi level house, it is best to stay on the lower floors during the hot part of the day where the cooler air has settled. Those of you with basements are well aware of how cool the basement can be even during the hottest days of summer.
  • In late evenings and early mornings open windows that can be safely opened so that cool outdoor air can enter and cool down the house. I actually open as many windows as possible in the morning so that I can fill the house with cool air before it warms up outside. When the outdoor temperature gets close to the indoor temperature I close all the windows and then I set the A/C to a comfortable 78 degrees.
  • A fan (I use a $10 box fan I purchased a decade ago from Walmart) can be useful to circulate air inside the home. If you use one it should be set to a low speed so that moves the air slowly. I only use the fan in the room we occupy most.
  • Minimize cooking indoors during the hottest time of the day. Try cooking on your outdoor grill or make things that don’t easily heat up the home like salads or sandwiches for lunch.
  • Replace your inefficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. They use 75% less energy, produce less heat, and last at least ten times longer.
  • Delay using appliances until the evening hours such as the dishwasher, washing machine, and clothes dryer.

The first law of thermodynamics says you cannot create or destroy energy so electrical energy that is used to power a fan is actually heating the room as it circulates the air.

HOW TO USE A FAN IN YOUR HOME

  • Due to the first law of thermodynamics, you should not have the fan on high speed because it will heat the room faster.
  • Fans have a cooling effect on your skin due to evaporation. It may feel cooler on your skin but it is actually heating your house.
  • A fan should be fixed in one direction. It should not oscillate. Oscillation will will push air back and forth. It is more ideal to fix it in one direction so that the air will circulate around the entire room. Think of a bathtub filled with water. If you swish water back and forth it is less effective than pushing the water around the tub in one direction so that it circulates all the water around the entire tub.
  • A fan can be good at helping to keep air temperatures uniform in a large portion of the house. That way one part of the house won’t heat quickly while another part stays cool.
  • Fans use less electricity than air conditioners so if you can get by comfortably with a fan then it will save you money compared to using the air conditioner.

HOMES WITH MULTIPLE AIR CONDITIONING UNITS

  • If you have multiple air conditioning units (ie upstairs and downstairs) you can actually get away with only using the downstairs unit if you can avoid the upstairs region during the hot part of the day.
  • I only run the A/C downstairs and I let the hot air rise and escape out an upstairs window. I use a window fan (another $10 Walmart box fan) to help push the hot air out the window and out of the house.

HOMES WITH WHOLE HOUSE FANS

  • Whole house fans are good alternatives to air conditioners when the outdoor temperatures are comfortable. They are very good at removing heat trapped inside a house and bringing in cooler air from outside.
  • Window fans can be substituted for whole house fans.
    • A window fan should blow the hot air out the window, preferable upstairs where the hottest air collects.
    • Another window should be opened to allow cooler outside air to enter the house. The cool air intake window should be located far from the hot air exhaust window so that the cool air will flow across as much of the house as possible and have the maximum cooling effect.

You may laugh and say to yourself that this is way too much work and at first it can be overwhelming. But once you become used to incorporating these tips into your daily summer routine it will become second nature and you can literally save hundreds of dollars per month on your cooling bill.

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