Air Conditioning Economy: How to Save Money on Cooling

If you want to discover how you can save money by economizing on your air conditioning usage without sacrificing comfort, here are some great ideas for you!

These days of ever-growing energy costs, enjoying the comfort of an air conditioned home can place a strain on the household budget when it is not managed properly.

However, it is certainly possible to lower your utility bills by making some minor, yet effective changes to the way you use your cooling system as well as making use of these handy tips.

Tip #1: The Thermostat

The first place you should always look when trying to reduce your energy bills is at the main thermostat that controls the indoor temperature. It's a small box located on a wall somewhere obvious, like in a main hallway or main living area.

Far too many people set their thermostat incorrectly, by setting the temperature far too low. This results in a nice cool home for sure, but do you really need it to be so cool?

If you think about how warm you like the home to feel during winter, that's about the ballpark figure you should also aim for during summer. Here's an example:

In winter, a comfortable indoor temperature is around 71-75ºF (21-25ºC). It's in that zone you feel comfortable enough to wear normal clothes without an extra sweater or shivering inside a blanket on the sofa!

Well, translate that same temperature to summer!

It's common sense, really but all you need is to be comfortable, not cold! So instead of setting the summer thermostat temperature to a chilly 65º as I often see some folks do, turn it up to, say, 72º or thereabouts and enjoy a comfortable home while watching your electricity usage drop like a stone!

This goes for central systems as well as individual room, ductless mini-split air conditioners, window AC and portable air conditioners.

Tip #2: Insulate

If you live in a modern or newly built home, chances are it has already been adequately insulated to help keep the outside temperature outside and the indoor climate indoors. It is common to insure walls and the attic space are well insulated as well as having well-fitting windows (sometimes double glazed for added protection) and well-fitting doors.

However, older homes are often neglected in this department. An un-insulated home will leak heat or coolness depending on the time of year, forcing your central heating and cooling system to work that much harder to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

When your system is working harder, it is using way more energy than it could be and costing you way more in dollars added to your utility bills! The smart homeowner will spend some money to insulate the attic first (that's where most thermal leakage occurs) and walls next.

Tip #3: Cracks and Openings

Leading on from the previous tip about insulating, it is also important to insure you minimize the effect that cracks and badly fitting opening will have on the internal temperature and the system working away to maintain it.

In summer, hot air from outside will get in and make the air conditioning work harder to keep it cool. That will of course cost more in energy used (wasted).

In winter, the warmth from inside will get out through any cracks or open gaps in window panes, door frames etc and cost you way more in wasted energy as the furnace works harder to keep it warm inside.

Tip #4: Shade

In summer, the sun is the biggest heat source trying to heat up your home from the outside and forcing the AC to work overtime to keep it cool. You can help things along by creating shade to keep the sun off the walls or getting in through windows especially in the afternoons and early evenings.

It is easy enough to have awnings fitted to windows and they look nice too. But you can go one step further by adding shading to wall areas that are exposed to the direct rays of the sun by installing a wide covered porch or fitting large awnings beneath the roof overhang to extend the amount of shadow protecting the walls from heating up.

If it is not possible to add shading, the next best thing is to paint sun-facing walls white. Light colors reflect more sunlight and don't heat up as much as darker colored walls that absorb more heat from sunlight.

Tip #5: Portable Unit Economy

There is one more tip that can come in useful to know if you are relying on individual portable coolers on a room by room basis and you are considering renewing or replacing older units.

The first is to replace older, single hose devices with up-to-date, dual hose self evaporating portable air conditioners. These are more economical to run, saving you money month after month.

An even better way to save money is to replace portable ACs with evaporative coolers if your climate is appropriate.

You'll need the humidity levels to be sufficiently low for these devices to work effectively, but if you're lucky enough to live in an area with low summer humidity, you're in luck. Evaporative coolers use less than 1/10th of the electricity used by a similar output AC!

Well, I hope that has given you some ideas on how to reduce your energy bills by using some good old fashioned common sense and applying it to your home!