As summer cooling costs climb higher, the frugal-minded find themselves playing a personal game of “would you rather.” Would you rather pay through the nose to keep cool or suffer through a muggy, AC-less summer just for the savings?
Thankfully, there’s a middle ground. You can make a multitude of little (and big) changes to cut your cooling costs while still keeping you cool. Use these 12 tips to cut your bill down to a manageable size:
Keep Vents Clear
It sounds simple, and it is. Keep furniture, rugs, curtains and other obstructions off or away from vents. Keeping the path clear for the cool air helps ensure maximum efficiency.
Fresh Air Is Free Air
Turn off the AC and open your windows whenever you can. A few fans and a nice cross breeze will help keep you cool even if the air outside is a few degrees warmer than you typically set your AC.
Too hot for open windows during the day? Consider turning off the AC and opening windows at night instead, when temperatures have dropped.
Use Fans Wisely
Fans cost less to use than AC, so rely on them whenever possible.
Just remember, fans aren’t lowering the room’s temperature — they’re just circulating air. If you’re not in the room to enjoy the fan’s breeze, turn it off and save a little on your electrical bill.
Cover Your Windows
Use curtains, blinds and drapes to your advantage. Pull them closed when the sun is shining through those windows and open them after the sun has moved past. This prevents the sun’s rays from superheating those rooms and adds another layer to keep cold air from escaping.
Keep A Tight Seal
Don’t pay extra to cool the great outdoors. Before switching on your AC, make sure all windows and doors are closed and vents are off. Turn kitchen and bathroom fans off as soon as possible after use, because they’re venting your cool air along with the odors and steam.
Make sure to check your weather-stripping and caulking during your spring cleaning. Repair or replace any damaged caulk or stripping to ensure your cool air stays inside.
Avoid Hot Showers
Not only do cool showers help cool you down and freshen you up, they don’t introduce as much muggy moisture into your home as a hot shower.
Be Smart About Appliances
Even newer appliances can heat up your kitchen. Consider grilling more and adding more salads to your summer menu to keep oven use to a minimum. Run the dishwasher at night when you’re unlikely to be standing near it for food prep.
Remember that light bulbs can heat up a room as well. Take advantage of natural light as much as possible, which is an easier task during the long days of summer.
Close Empty Rooms
Why cool a room you don’t use? Keep doors to utilities, storage areas and guest rooms closed. If those areas have vents, close them.
Some systems cool by zones: Consider whether you can turn off a zone or two.
Lose the Layers
Dress lightly and skip the bedcovers. Heavy clothes and heavy blankets just make you hotter, prompting you to crank the AC in response. Skip socks and shoes when indoors, stick to shorts and short sleeves (the lighter in color, the better) and use a light, breathable top sheet at most.
Program Your Thermostat
If you don’t have one, make the switch to a programmable thermostat. Even the simplest models help you set a schedule that will yield savings
Reserve your preferred temperature for when you’re home and awake. When you’re away or asleep, set the AC temp higher or turn it off completely.
Smart thermostats make it easy to adjust your settings remotely if your schedule unexpectedly changes, such as when you’re working late, stuck in traffic or extending a vacation.
Replace Your AC System
Even the best systems break down or fall behind eventually. There comes a point at which the lack of efficiency and cost of repairs make an investment in a new, energy-efficient unit your best bet for savings.
Not sure if it’s time to make the switch? Look for signs that it’s time to replace your unit.
Maintain Your System
An AC system is a big investment. Proper and regular maintenance not only helps ward off repairs, it keeps your system efficient.
Set up a regular service schedule with your vendor or technician of choice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and changing filters. Check the ductwork each spring, making sure there are no air leaks to fix or insulation in need of replacement.
With these tips you can save money and stay cool, even on summer’s hottest days.