July and August are generally the hottest months of summer, and that means expensive electric bills from all of that A/C use. Whether you have a central air conditioner or you rely on window units, costs can quickly get out of control.
Fortunately, we have a few simple tips and tricks you can use to stay cool and keep a few bucks in your pocket. They may require a little bit of extra work, but the savings are worth it. And so is the knowledge that you are helping to conserve resources and protect the environment.
Tip #1: Use your fan
While a fan won't do anything to actually lower the temperature in your home, it can help you to stay cool in two crucial ways.
First, a ceiling fan helps to circulate air in your home, meaning that the coldest air doesn't end up sitting just above your floor where it does no one any good. In combination with an air conditioner, a fan can make a room feel significantly colder with less A/C power.
Second, a fan will help you to cool down, as long as the temperature in your home isn't above your body temperature. Your body is designed to regulate its internal temperature by pushing heat out through sweat. Because your body's temperature hovers around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, a fan blowing air over you that is lower than this temperature will speed up the process of cooling you down.
Tip #2: Use a programmable or smart thermostat
Programmable thermostats are getting cheaper all the time, and the cost savings that they can bring help them to quickly pay for themselves.
Once you install a programmable thermostat, you will be prompted to input your typical schedule. This allows your device to change the temperature in your home based on your habits. When you are home, the air conditioner (or heater) will keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and when you are at work, it will allow temperatures to rise to an energy-saving range – usually about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip #3: Invest in heavy curtains
It may seem counterintuitive, but heavy curtains can be an extremely useful way to regulate the temperature in your home. A lot of the heat that comes into a home enters in the form of sunlight. Visible light passes easily through glass, turning into heat in your home. During the day – particularly when you aren't at home – close your curtains to prevent light from heating your home like an oven.
Tip #4: Use windows strategically
Many of us get into the habit of leaving windows shut during the warmer months of the summer, relying on air conditioning instead. But oftentimes, temperatures drop into comfortable ranges at night, meaning you could turn off your A/C and keep cool without the added cost.
Every evening, take a moment to feel the temperature outside. If it’s cool and comfortable, open your windows to let the cold air circulate, cooling your home for free. In the morning, close everything back up again to keep that cold air trapped inside.
Tip #5: Maintain your A/C
No matter how much you do, you will still need to use your air conditioner sometimes. A well-maintained A/C unit performs significantly more efficiently than one that hasn't been serviced recently.
It's important to replace your A/C filter regularly (monthly is best). You should also have a certified HVAC mechanic come out at least once per year to ensure that everything is in working order and to clean the inside of your A/C unit.
And for homeowners with central air conditioners, you should regularly check that ducts are well insulated and clean. Not only will this help to keep your electricity bills lower, it will keep your appliance from working too hard, potentially giving it a longer life.
Taking steps to ensure that your home is cooled with optimal efficiency is more than a matter of environmentalism. An inefficient A/C unit or a home that relies more than is necessary on artificial cooling will draw significantly more electricity, causing utility bills to be considerably higher. Overuse of air conditioning can also lead to a central A/C unit breaking down, which can be extremely costly to repair or replace.
At Cinch, we can help you repair and even replace your A/C, and avoid the expense of costly breakdowns. Check out our Home Protection Plans to find the perfect way to protect you and your home.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.