Saving Electricity and Staying Cool in Hot Weather

Summer is just around the corner and for many that means air conditioning. Unfortunately it can also mean higher electric bills. But you can do something about it. Saving electricity for air conditioning is easy if you know how. Try these low-cost or no-cost solutions for high air conditioning costs.

1. Set your thermostat at 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) or above. Raise the thermostat temperature setting when everyone is gone manually or automatically with a programmable thermostat.
2. Change or clean your filter as often as it gets dirty, which varies from 1 to 4 changes or cleanings a year. If you use disposable filters, buy a dozen and keep them handy.
3. Operate circulating fans in occupied areas of the building to increase comfort and allow a high thermostat setting. Moving air creates a wind chill on your skin, improving comfort and allowing a higher thermostat setting (3-to-6 degrees). The fans use power but much less than the air conditioner, so you’re still saving electricity.
4. If the temperature and humidity allow, shut off the air conditioner and circulate air from outdoors through the building at night or anytime the outdoor air is comfortable. If the outdoor air is cool enough, it removes heat accumulated during the day much more economically than air conditioning.

5. Clean your outdoor condenser coil. Disconnect the power to the unit first. Remove lint and grass with an old hairbrush. Spray household cleaner into the coils and fins from both sides. Have a helper remove the screws from the fan grill and hold the fan aside while you direct a vigorous spray of water from a garden hose to wash the dirt and soap out from both sides of the coil. If you feel uncertain about this job, hire a professional air conditioner technician.
6. Find and seal your building’s air leaks to allow less hot air to enter.
7. Use a whole-house fan or evaporative cooler instead of an air conditioner if you have a choice.
8. Cook outdoors and use less hot water during hot weather.
9. Work on your heat tolerance by spending more time outdoors.
10. Take cool showers instead of hot ones. If you have an electric water heater then you’re also saving electricity by using less hot water.
Following these tips will help you to run your air conditioner as little as possible, thereby saving electricity while remaining comfortable. Buy Saturn’s Your Home Cooling Energy Guide for a complete manual on reducing air conditioning costs.