18 Money Saving Strategies To Help Reduce Cooling Costs
As summer approaches in North America, people are asking how they can stay cool and spend less in the process. Cooling and heating costs take up more than 40 percent of the energy usage for the average home. Thus cutting costs in those areas certainly make sense. Doing that with little or no impact on your carbon footprint makes even more sense. I will break it down into two sections – No cost strategies and some cost involved strategies.
No Cost Strategies:
1. Probably the most obvious and simple thing to do is raise the thermostat. If you can handle a small increase in temperature, you will save several percent on cooling costs. The main idea is to get the humidity down and move the air.
2. Clean or replace the filter on your AC unit. If the air can’t move through the system, it will not be cooled, or dehumidified, and it will cost more. Some systems have a removable filter that you clean while others have to be replaced. In either case, inspect the filter weekly and replace or clean it at least monthly.
3. Draw the shades on south or sun facing windows. Sounds simple, but more often than not, people have the window shades, blinds, or drapes wide open allowing the sun to heat the room and force the AC unit to work harder. By keeping the shades drawn, your AC unit is allowed to work more efficiently. Make the choice. Do you want the sun streaming in and heating the room, or can you accept a darker, cooler room?
4. Clean or have a professional clean the AC condensing coils. That’s the part of the AC unit that is outside. If those coils are dirty or covered by trees or shrubs, the unit will work much harder to achieve the desired temperature.
5. Close off unused rooms. If you have central air, close the ducts in those rooms.
6. Turn off lights when not in the room. By this point, I have to resume you changed out incandescent lights for spiral fluorescent bulbs. Even those more efficient bulbs emit heat, so when not in need, keep them off.
7. Computers generate heat. Some people believe that they should be turned off when not in use. Others argue that turning them off and on causes potential harm. Your choice here.
8. Spend more time outdoors. Yeah I know you already spend lots of time outside – Really? The average family spends more than two hours every day in front of the TV. Cutting that in half will not only cut cooling costs, it will cut your overall electric costs, too.
9. Use the stove and/or oven less. Or if you cannot cut down, then use the stove on cooler days or cooler times of the day such as early morning. Just remember the oven puts out lots of heat that our AC unit will have to cool.
Some Cost Involved Strategies. Here are some cost involved strategies that should prove beneficial. They move from less expensive to more expensive.
1. If yours is a wall or window unit, select a location with the least amount of sun on the unit. When you position the AC unit in a shady environment, the unit works more efficiently. This may require relocating the unit and may require electrical work, too.
2. Install a programmable thermostat if you have central air. For the same reasons as previously mentioned, running the system at a higher temperature will cost less. A programmable thermostat will allow you to choose the times of day or night when you want the most and least cooling.
If you are at work all day, set the temperature to a much higher setting. Allow the system an hour or so, to cool the house for your return time. This is most productive when your away time is more than a few hours.
3. Seal all air leaks in your home. This will not only reduce cooling costs, it will also help in the winter when you are trying to keep your home warm. Look for locations where utilities come into your home. Around windows and doors, dryer vents, chimneys, etc.
4. Seal any air leaks in your AC ducts. Use metal tape designed specifically for that purpose. Duct tape is not for this purpose. Most home improvement centers will have the correct materials.
5. Insulate your attic stairway or access panel. Temperature moves from hotter to cooler areas. That is why your home gets cool in winter and warm in summer. An uninsulated attic stair allows the high attic heat to migrate into your cooler home. Thus your AC unit has to work harder.
You can purchase attic stair insulation blankets at most home improvement stores. If you are handy you can install it yourself.
6. Install high quality, energy efficient ceiling fans where possible. Air movement cools the skin. Running ceiling fans on hot days when you are in the same room as the fan will help you stay cooler. Remember to turn them off when you leave the room since they don’t reduce air temperature, but help you feel cooler.
7. Install tinted film on windows. E-films will reduce the amount of heat energy that transfers through your windows, thus allowing the AC unit to work less.
8. Plant shade trees. Keeping the sun off the house has obvious benefits. It keeps the house cooler and helps the AC unit maintain a cooler temperature. Shade trees can actually reduce cooling costs by as much as 30% when planted in the correct locations.
9. Replace your AC units with High Efficiency systems. Look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 13 or better, 14 if you home is in a warmer climate. Also look for an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11 or higher.
If you have done all the items on this list and still want to reduce your electric costs, you may consider installing a solar power system. Solar power systems can be designed to reduce your electric bill or even to take your home off the grid. For more on Solar Power take a look at:
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