DIY Friday: 5 Ways to Cut Your Air Conditioning Costs

MoneyDo you hear something?  It’s like a muffled whooshing sound.

Even if Uncle Lewis claims you couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant, you’ll be able to hear the sound of your air conditioner sucking up all of your cash.  The cost to run an air conditioning unit is getting expensive, and you may have even tried surviving with no cool air.  We all know that’s impossible so we’ve compiled a list of five simple strategies to stay cool and keep your cash where it is.

Install a ceiling fan

Investing $40 or so in a ceiling fan can help to circulate air and keep you feeling refreshed.  For less than one penny an hour, running a ceiling fan will limit the amount of time your air conditioner needs to pump out chilled air.

Just make sure the blades are revolving in the correct direction.  In summer, they should be rotating counterclockwise to produce a light breeze so that when you stand directly under the fan, you will feel a “wind-chill effect” making you feel cooler.  In winter, alter the motor so the blades rotate in a clockwise motion.  This will create a gentle up-draft and bring the warm air that’s stuck near the ceiling, down to you.  As a note of precaution, take a quick look at the fan before you turn it on and make sure you don’t see this.

Plant some foliage

One of the main reasons that indoor temperatures rise comes from the sun shining on the roof and windows.  Drawing the blinds is an option, but who wants to live in a cave all day?  Your best bet would be to stop by your local nursery and pick up a few inexpensive trees and bushes.  Strategically plant them around your yard and enjoy the shade.  Just don’t go overboard.  A few trees here and there are great, but if you house starts to look like this, you know you’ve gone too far.

Go for the programmable thermostat

In case you’re still living in the dark ages and your thermostat looks like this, it’s time to modernize your lifestyle and install a programmable one.  Investing a couple hundred dollars in new technology can help you keep your cooling costs under control.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), you can save between 5 and 15 percent on air conditioning by raising the temperature while you’re away, and this type of thermostat will do it automatically.

Keep an eye on the humidity

The fan in your air conditioning unit should be set to high, except on extra humid days.  You’ll be able to tell if the humidity level is high if you take a look in the mirror and your hair looks like this.  The DOE suggests reducing the fan speed since slow air movement will remove more moisture from the air, keeping you comfortable and dry with less AC.

Don’t overlook maintenance

Keeping your unit maintained will improve efficiency and reduce the amount of money you spend on staying comfortably cool.  Replace the air filters regularly, repair any damages immediately, and ensure the unit is level so condensation drains correctly.

If your air conditioner has been through hell and looks like this, it’s time to put it out of its misery.  Swap it with a new ENERGY STAR labeled unit and save tons on your AC expenses.

Find ways to compensate

If you’ve done everything you can, yet your face still looks like this when you get your utility bill, you may need to look for ways to offset the costs.  Some utilities offer their customers an option referred to as “time-of-use” pricing, where you’ll pay less for electricity during off-peak hours (typically between 9:30pm and 8:30am).  Your utility may also offer a program called demand response, where they’ll pay you to reduce your electricity when there is too much demand on the grid.  Finally, it may be beneficial to thoroughly review your bill.  There are a lot of factors that go into calculating what you owe, meaning there are numerous chances for an error to pop up.  Examine your bill yourself or turn to a professional auditing service to ensure you are being charged correctly.  In most cases, you’ll get refunded the difference if any inaccuracies are found.

From everyone at YourEnergyBlog, enjoy your savings (and your weekend)!

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