Saving money around the house is an issue with which many people struggle. After all, it often seems like you have to choose comfort or money. But, who ever said that you can’t have both? Yes, it’s possible to stay comfortable and keep more of your hard earned money – even during the dog days of summer. You do, however, have to get a little creative sometimes.
Get Cool Air Where it Needs to Go
One of the biggest keys to lowering cooling costs during the summer is getting air where it needs to go. In other words, you need to do three things: 1) eliminate factors that keep you from wasting the cool air you pay for, 2) prevent air from escaping, and 3) use other available resources to reduce your need for excess cooling.
Seven Tips for Cutting Cooling Costs
Specifically, there are a handful of things you can do to cut cooling costs without suffering the expense of warmer temperatures:
- Pay attention to landscaping. Did you know that your home’s landscaping actually has an impact on energy consumption and cooling costs? Unbeknownst to most homeowners, planting leafy trees around the exterior of the home keeps sunlight from penetrating the home and increasing temperatures. By shading your air conditioner, you may even improve your unit’s efficiency by up to 10 percent.
- Rely on fans. While a ceiling fan won’t actually cool a room, it’ll make you feel cooler (in some cases, by as much as six or seven degrees). Turning your bedroom fan on at night will allow you to turn your thermostat up. If you spend a lot of time in one room during the day, you may be able to keep the thermostat on a higher setting while utilizing fans to keep you cool.
- Service your system. Cooling systems need to be serviced regularly to stay in good, working condition. Dirty filters can block airflow, which means that you have to pay a lot more to get the same level of comfort. Evaporators and condenser coils should also be cleared out on a regular basis. For the best results, have a technician inspect your units each spring.
- Protect windows. Solar screens – which are mesh-like window screens that attach to the exterior of the window – intercept as much as 70 percent of solar energy before it enters the home. This can greatly reduce your need for cooling and is ideal for west-facing windows.
- Install a programmable thermostat. One of the greatest AC-related innovations of the last few decades is the programmable thermostat. It allows you to set your cooling system to change automatically, depending on the time of day. This lets you keep the house warmer while you’re at work and cooler when you’re home.
- Unplug electronics. TVs, DVD players, computers, stereos, and other household electronics emit a lot of heat, even when they’re not in use. By unplugging them during extended periods of disuse, you can keep rooms cooler, and reduce dependence on cool air.
- Go easy on the oven. Many of the activities that you perform during the day cause heat to build up. This, in turn, causes your cooling system to work overtime. One way that you can keep your home cooler is by being mindful when you’re in the kitchen. Opening the oven to check on food can significantly increase the temperature, so use the oven light to take a peek instead.
Save Money and Stay Cool
Using these seven tips, you can maximize the cool air that you pay for, and eliminate the need for excess cooling in your home. For the best results, sit down with the entire family, and discuss the importance of cutting costs and staying cool this summer.