As the summertime temperatures skyrocket, many homeowners feel that they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do they save money or do they stay cool? It can seem as though cranking the air conditioning – which inevitably runs up utility bills – is the only way to get some relief but a recent article in the Providence Journal, How to literally stay cool and save money at the same time gives some tips for doing both.
Jeff Wuorio writes, “Summertime, and the cooling is … very, very expensive. Few of us enjoy nonstop sweltering during the warmer months. But staying cool comes at a price. Estimates hold that air conditioning costs account for roughly 16 percent of most households’ electric expenses. In warmer climes, that can jump to as much as 70 percent.
Nor is that just a matter of the electricity used. If local conditions warrant central air conditioning, the website Homeadvisor reports that the average purchase and installation cost ranged from a low of $3,695 to a high of more than $7,000. Don’t add to the heat by sweating out unduly expensive cooling costs. Here are some tips.
One major culprit in needlessly steep cooling costs is running air conditioners when the weather isn’t particularly hot. While you can always choose to lower the AC manually when needed, another option is installing a programmable thermostat. This automates the task of cutting back on air conditioning.
If you use air conditioning regularly, it also pays to make certain the equipment is functioning as efficiently as possible. As Woroch noted, this should include scheduling maintenance checks annually, inspecting the air filter once a month and replacing it when necessary.
Additionally, make the most of whatever air conditioning is in use by installing ceiling fans to circulate as much cool air as possible. The federal Department of Energy estimates ceiling fans allow homeowners to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees with no reduction in comfort. But, be sure to turn them off when no one is in the room. Non-tech tips
If the thought of learning to use a programmable thermostat makes your head spin, there’s an ample array of low-tech solutions that can also trim your home cooling bills.
Start with a major heat source — sunlight streaming through windows. One simple way to address that is by using blinds and curtains whenever possible — particularly those that are designed to hold out the heat.
“Curtains and other window coverings are critical,” said Brett Graff, who writes the nationally syndicated column The Home Economist. “These decorative energy savers reduce the solar heat that you’re trying to tame. Blinds that are closed tight can reduce heat gain by 45 percent. They’re also good because you can let a little light in when necessary.”
At Half Price Drapes we couldn’t agree more: Roman shades
or blackout drapes are an excellent way to make the most of your air conditioning system.