Cut Cooling Costs
Angie's List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies, went to the heating and cooling experts for ways homeowners can save and still beat the heat.
1. Call a professional: Each central air conditioning unit should be inspected, cleaned and tuned by a professional. A professional tune-up typically costs between $70 and $125.
2. Keep the filter clean: Clean and replace the air conditioner filter frequently (check the filter once a month). This is especially important during the summer when dust and allergens circulate. If the filter becomes clogged, your system will have to work harder to supply the same amount of cool air.
3. Made in the shade: Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air, meaning the A/C will have an easier time cooling the air, but keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
4. Don’t take the heat: Don’t place lamps, TV sets, or other heat producing appliances near your thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat causing the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
5. Dial for dollars: Remember that each degree you dial below 78 increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. If your monthly electric bill is about $100, you’ll save $8 a month with EACH degree you can stand above 78.
6. Set and go: If it’s hard to remember to tweak your thermostat before you leave for work, consider investing in a programmable thermostat or a timer for your window unit.
7. Time to replace? You may find your old air conditioner is no longer efficient. Consider replacing your unit with an energy-efficient model. They’re usually more expensive but thanks to federal tax credits and competitive prices, the prices are falling, and because they use less energy, you save in the long-run, too. When replacing your A/C, look for a properly sized unit. If you install a unit that is too large, it will cycle on and off – reducing the efficiency of the system.
8. Don’t cool the whole neighborhood: Seal air leaks with caulking and weather-stripping. Add insulation around air conditioning ducts.
9. Feel the breeze: If your home has ceiling fans, switch your ceiling fan to run counterclockwise in the summer. That will push the cool air down. You can run a ceiling fan half the day for about $1.50 a month, compared to $25 for an air conditioner.
10. Beat the heat: Avoid landscaping with lots of rock, cement, or asphalt on the south or west sides of your home. If it’s not shaded it will increase the temperature around the house and radiate heat.
11. Install window film: A great home improvement idea is to install home window film or tint to the insides of your windows. Not only can it help keep your house cooler in the summer, but also warmer in the winter.