There’s a big battle that occurs every year during summertime – the choice of staying cool vs. paying an expensive electric bill. It can be tough, especially if you live in areas where temperatures stay in the 80s and higher. You want to be comfortable, but you also don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet. Is it possible? Here are some money saving tips to help you and your wallet stay on the cooler side.
- Inspect your home for air leaks. If you have an older home, there’s a chance the air may be leaking out through window seals, cracks in doors, and even the attic if it isn’t insulated properly. By signing up for a home energy audit with your local utility provider or contractor, your home will be checked for leaks by a certified home energy rater who can recommend ways to help keep your home energy efficient. Or, you could just perform the inspection yourself. Go outside and run your hand along windows and doors while the AC is running; if you feel cold air, apply caulk to the windows and insulation around doors.
- Consider a smart thermostat. These units can regulate the amount of heat and cool air that flows through even when you aren’t home. You can also adjust the settings through an app on your smart phone.
- Check the placement of your thermostat. Yes, there is such a thing as having it mounted on the wrong wall. If it’s placed by a hot window, it will turn on more often than needed because the unit will “think” the room is much hotter than it actually is.
- Shut your blinds. Not only can an open window trick your unit into thinking the room is hotter than it is, it also brings in unnecessary heat, making life uncomfortable for you should it be a day you’ll be staying indoors. Once the warmest part of the day arrives, close your blinds to block out the heat. This will also help insulate your windows so the cold air won’t escape.
- Turn on your fan(s). A ceiling fan can help a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler and uses 10% of the energy of an AC unit.
- Increase the temperature. Some believe that if you leave your house with the unit set on one temperature, you’ll save money. However, this just a myth. The best way to save money is by turning up the thermostat before you leave. AC units work in the most efficient manner while at full speed for longer periods of time. Switching back to a lower temperature once you get home will save money as opposed to the unit cycling on and off while you’re away from home. A programmable unit is perfect for this, as you can program the unit to work at a high temperature while you’re away and to cool down before you arrive home.
- Aim high. Setting your thermostat for the highest temperature you can tolerate is the best way to combat a high energy bill. You can save up to 10% each year on bills by setting the thermostat 10-15 degrees higher for at least eight hours per day. The US Department of Energy suggests an indoor temperature of 78 degrees for when you’re at home.