5 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Cooling Costs
Springtime may mean your winter heating bills are behind you, but it also means that air conditioning season is right around the corner. It goes without saying that the cost of keeping cool is reflected in your electric bill. That said, there are ways to beat the heat without breaking the bank. These five ways to reduce your summer cooling costs could translate to big savings all while keeping your family comfortable through the dog days of summer.
1. Use fans
Many homeowners with central air think they’ve outgrown the need for the humble fan. After all, fans circulate fresh air, and as we all know, air conditioning works best in a tightly sealed home. On top of all that, it’s almost contradictory to add another appliance to reduce your electric bill. That said, fans offer a few benefits that can complement your air conditioner and help make your system more efficient.
It goes without saying that fans are super simple. They circulate air creating a wind-chill effect that can make you feel six or seven degrees cooler without actually changing the temperature. That means that you can set your AC six or seven degrees higher without melting your family in the summer heat. Those degrees can make a big difference: setting your thermostat to 78 degrees instead of 72 could save you nearly 20% on your AC costs!
Most central air systems have one to three zones. A single-zone system means that if you want your home at 72 degrees, your AC has to get to work cooling every room in the house. Why pay to cool upstairs if your family will be hanging out downstairs all day? By keeping fans on only in the rooms you and your family are in, your AC system won’t have to work so hard to condition spaces you’re not even using. Additionally, a well-placed fan can make your AC even more efficient by circulating cool air from your system quickly and effectively.
2. Insulate and air seal
This piece of advice works all year round. Many older homes were built at a time when heating costs were minimal and air conditioning wasn’t “a thing” yet. In the 1970s, a series of “oil shocks” sent heating and electricity costs skyrocketing around the world, and builders responded by constructing tighter, more energy efficient homes. Just like how good insulation and smart air sealing can save you hundreds on home heating costs, a tighter home will also make your central air more efficient and less costly to operate.
The first place most people look to seal up their homes are doors and windows. While those are certainly smart places to look, they’re expensive improvements and oftentimes the savings don’t equal out the costs. Insulation, on the other hand, is usually much less expensive and will pay off year round. A well insulated attic will keep the cool in and the heat out in the summer the same way it does the reverse in the winter.
Another area to look into would be sealing up common air leaks. If you had a home energy audit (and if you haven’t, you should get one), you know how much the little gaps between plumbing and utility access and furnace flues are costing you. You wouldn’t run the AC and keep the windows open, so why let those gaps make you pay to keep the outside cool? A quick trip around those gaps with a can of spray foam can make a big difference.
3. Smart thermostat
Have you ever left for work, or worse, for a long vacation and realized that you left your AC on? Obviously, there’s no point in paying for AC that no one’s home to enjoy! Fortunately, internet connected smart thermostats let you control your air conditioner from your phone. On top of the piece of mind, it also gives you the ability to get your AC working on your way home so you walk into a beautifully conditioned space without leaving the system running.
Many smart thermostats take things one step further and actively learn your usage patterns and adjust the system automatically so it runs at maximum efficiency. That means you can go to work and not worry about turning the central air off and on manually or go through a manual to set a schedule.
Just like insulation, a smart thermostat is an investment that pays off year round. In addition to making your central air more efficient during the summer, smart thermostats do the same for heating systems and can save you big on heating costs during the winter months. That’s why many states and utility providers offer free or discounted smart thermostats to eligible homeowners.
4. Curtains or blinds
Even if you’ve got brand new, triple-sealed, state-of-the-art windows, a little sunshine will still have the effect of turning your home into a greenhouse. That means that your AC system has to work extra hard against the midday sun to keep your home cool. Fortunately, just like how a little shade can take a couple of degrees off outside, curtains or blinds could do the same for your home.
Of all the things listed so far, curtains might offer the best bang for your buck. You can take maximum advantage by installing light color curtains that will reflect heat from the sun’s rays back outside instead of dark curtains which will absorb that thermal energy. Keeping your windows covered during the day with light-colored blinds or curtains can reduce heat gain by as much as 45%!
5. Install geothermal
While all of the above-mentioned tactics can help save you some money on your electric bill, nothing will beat the long-term savings of ditching the central air condenser and installing geothermal. Geothermal systems use the ground under your home to provide renewable, clean, hyper-efficient heating and cooling. By using the consistent cool temperature of the earth, geothermal provides central air conditioning using a fraction of the electricity a standard AC does. On top of that, it eliminates your separate heating bill, providing warmth at 300-600% efficiency all winter long! Simply put: there is no more efficient way to heat and cool a home than geothermal.
So what are you waiting for? Find out if your home is qualified today!