Summer is here, and with the warm weather brings increased energy costs for many people. While there are a number of different ways you can save money during the summer months, the air conditioner tends to be the biggest energy hog. Any appliance that uses electricity to alter temperature is generally inefficient by nature. This includes heaters, hot water heaters, refrigerators, and so on. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help maximize your air conditioning efficiency.
- Perform regular maintenance on your air conditioning unit. Replace the filter monthly during the cooling season and have a professional service your system at the beginning of each cooling season.
- If you have a central air unit, make sure the condenser is located in a shady spot and has room to dispose of the heated air it removes from your house. Don't crowd it with shrubs or anything else.
- Install a programmable thermostat so you can vary the temperature according to when you're home. Set it for a lower temperature when you're home. If you'll be gone for more than a few hours, it makes sense to set the air conditioning at a higher temperature while you're gone.
- Close drapes or shades on the sunny side of your house. The sun has intense warming effects, and when it is allowed to enter a window without the heat being able to escape, it will act like a greenhouse. Keep as much direct sunlight out as possible to keep your home a few degrees cooler.
- Seal up air leaks in your house. Just like how the cold air can find its way into your house in the winter, the hot air does the same thing during the summer. Caulk or seal places where utilities come into your home (plumbing, electricity, dryer vents, etc.). Fill gaps around chimneys and weatherstrip around drafty windows and doors.
- Utilize fans as much as possible. If the temperature is just slightly uncomfortable, consider using an oscillating fan, or ceiling fan if you have one. Just a slight breeze or circulation caused by fans can make it feel a few degrees cooler.
- Turn off the lights when not in use. If you have standard incandescent bulbs, they generate a good deal of heat. Having lights on when not necessary just increased the tempreture in the house. Consider switching to CFL bulbs, which run cool, and also consume less electricity.