Thank God for Air Conditioning. That's all I have to say. However, this blessing brings with it some very high utility bills. First I'm going to offer you the top seven ways you can IMMEDIATELY reduce your bills, then I'm going to offer some ideas for long term solutions.
Quick and Easy Solutions
- Set your thermostat on 78-80 degrees and leave it there. We don't turn our AC on unless it's horribly humid and over 90 degrees. Use the timer on your thermostat just like you do in the winter.
- Use the wind to keep you cool. We have ceiling fans. I know that the current DIY tv shows are telling you that ceiling fans are out but we prefer practicality over having the most hip decor. Ceiling fans and other fans cost a lot less to run than the AC unit. It is key that your ceiling fan is turning in the correct direction. It should blow down in the summer and up in the winter.
- We use lots of fans. A box fan in the window for cool evenings or days that are just not hot enough for the AC will help to draw cool breezes through the house and pulls the heat out of the house. Put the fan in the window on the opposite side of the house from the direction of your breeze blowing OUT.
- The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Duh! We all know that! Just like we all know that the rays of the sun make us warm. Use your knowledge to help you. No one likes to live in a dark house and keep shades and curtians closed all day. If you are running the AC then be wise. Have room darkening shades, blinds and/or curtains on the south, east and west windows. Keep the east windows closed until noon and the west windows closed after noon. In the summer the south windows pretty much have to be closed all the time. This helps tremendously. You can also use Solar film on your windows. I don't like this because it keeps the sun from warming in the winter. If all else fails we always line the hottest windows with foil (just tape on the glass). Make sure your windows and doors are properly caulked and sealed and that you are using storm doors and windows.
- Close registers in unused rooms.
- Keep your Filter clean.
- Shade your window air conditioner or condenser unit. Shading the unit can save as much as 10% of your cooling costs. Additionally, do not block the air flow to your AC units and hose off the coils of your outdoor units in the spring and every so often.
- Don't use your dryer. Besides adding humidity to the house that your AC has to work to remove it cost lots of money and wears out your clothes to be dried in the dryer. Use the great outdoors.....that's another post.
- Reduce heat from lighting. Light bulbs put off a lot of heat. Compact Florscents put off 90% less heat.
- Reduce heat from cooking. Grill or use a solar oven. Plan salad type meals with lots of veggies and fruit in the summer. If you are going to cook or bake do it early in the day. The old Summer Kitchen was a God send to our ancestors. I know some folks who mimic this by having a stove on their back porch....if you have one.
- Make sure you are using high efficency units and that your unit(s) are properly sized.
- See to your proper insulation needs. Don't forget basements and crawl spaces.
- Well-positioned shade trees can reduce indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees and energy use by up to 40%.The U.S. Secretary of Energy has said that if the world’s 100 largest and hottest cities switched to white roofs and light-colored cement pavement for roads, it would be the equivalent of taking all the world’s automobiles off the road for 11 years.
- Next time you install a new roof use white shingles. Better yet! Install a metal roof.
- Test your duct work for leaks the average home loses 27% of its heating or cooling from leaky ducts. And over 86% of homes had ducts which lost more than 10%. (June 2009) Leaking ducts and insufficient insulation meant that the average home used 162 kWh/mo. extra electricity per month, or 18% more than normal. This is an extra $233 a year at average electrical rates.
- Paint the exterior of your house a light color.
- Install a radiant barrier. A layer of aluminum foil-type material or special paint across the underside of the roof in your attic blocks heat radiated into the roof, and reduces energy use by 3-8%. Besides decreasing the amount of attic heat that radiates into the living space, it might reduce the heat enough that you could consider turning the attic space itself into a living space.
- Plant shade trees. Well-positioned shade trees can reduce indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees and energy use by up to 40%.