It’s summertime! With temperatures rising, many turn to the air conditioner as their only resource for keeping cool. The cost of running an AC throughout the day may seem minor compared to facing the heat, but it adds up fast! Running the average AC unit for 24 hours a day can increase your utility bill by nearly $200 a month! Here are some cost-effective measures to conserve electricity and reduce your bill while still keeping cool in the California heat.
- Keep your windows closed during daytime hours. By sealing your house tight during the day and opening windows when it cools off at night, your AC will run more efficiently and you’ll lose less cool air to the heat outside. Simply work it into your routine – close the windows when you wake up in the morning and open them again when the temperature drops. Try turning the AC on throughout the day and keeping it off at night or on the lowest setting.
- Install sunblockers. Surprisingly, up to 20% of the heat transfer into your house comes through the windows in the form of direct sunlight. Try installing blinds or window shades (preferably white to reflect sunlight) over the east and west windows of your house to keep direct sunlight out.
- Turn the AC off when you’re not home. As nice as it is to come home to a cool house, a well-maintained AC unit can cool your house off comfortably within 10 minutes. By turning off the unit when you’re away, you can reduce your electricity costs dramatically!
- Run your appliances at night when possible. Dishwashers, ovens, and laundry machines all generate heat while they’re working. By shifting your use to the evening hours, you can avoid adding unnecessary heat to your home that makes your AC unit work overtime to compensate.
- Clean the filter. By cleaning your AC’s filter at least once a month during the cooling season, you can ensure that it continues working at full efficiency. Normal dust build-up in the filter can reduce airflow by a full percent every week!
- Change the lightbulbs. If your house is fitted with incandescent lights, you are using 75% more energy and your lights produce 90% more heat! While the heat from a lightbulb may seem insignificant in comparison to the heat outside, it will still impact the cooling load for your AC. By switching over to fluorescent lightbulbs, you can save dramatically year-round.
- Use a fan (or two, or three). Rather than relying on your AC unit alone to keep cool, try using a fan to supplement the cooling and stay comfortable. An electric fan uses a minimal amount of electricity while still providing excellent cooling to a small area. Running a fan in whatever room you’re in will allow you to keep the AC on a low setting or even off in the evening.