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When summer rolls around, people spend more time cooking on the grill and enjoying time outside instead of being inside driving up their electric bill. Wrong! That isn’t the case at all.
More and more people telecommute nowadays, which means electricity is being used at home instead of in an office. The kids are home from school, and no matter how much you encourage them to go out and see the light of day, they still spend more time inside watching TV and playing video games than they do during the school year.
While all this goes on, the air conditioner is keeping everyone cool. It’s hard to remember life without air conditioning, when the only way to cool off was to find a lake or pond and falling asleep on sweltering summer nights was out of the question.
Now, when temperatures approach triple digits, we can stay cool inside with our electronics and at night be lulled to sleep by the hum of the air conditioner while bundled up in a blanket or two. We pay dearly for our creature comforts, most directly through skyrocketing electric bills in the summer. It doesn’t have to be that way! It’s possible to cool off and lower your electric bill if you make a few simple changes.
1. Have Your AC Unit Cleaned
This should be done once a year before the start of summer. When it’s pushing air around your house, it’s also accumulating dust and dirt that builds up and causes your system to run less efficiently. It can also cause the air in your system to be less clean, which can contribute to allergy attacks and other health problems.
2. Replace Your Filter
Filters in AC units need to be replaced regularly, typically every three months. When a filter is clogged, the unit has to work much harder to push air through. Not only will this use more electricity, but it’ll also decrease the lifespan of your AC unit. Changing your air filters regularly will greatly improve the air quality in your home.
3. Don’t ‘Set It and Forget It’
It’s easy to set a temperature for your home and let the AC do the rest; however, do you really need it to run on a 75-degree summer day? Instead, open up the windows and let in the summer breeze. Use a fan to circulate that sweet, fresh air. If the air has cooled at night, open up the windows instead of running the air conditioner.
4. Seal Your Doors and Windows
Caulking your doors and windows will help keep the cool air in during the summer and the heat in during the cold winter months. If you have air leaks, you’re throwing money away. Sealing your doors and windows and other cracks that may let out air is inexpensive and can save you a lot of money on your electric bill in all seasons.
5. Get a Programmable Thermostat
This will help save money on both cooling and heating costs. A programmable thermostat can be programmed to shut off during the times when you’re normally away from home and turn back on an hour before you come home so you’re not coming home to a hothouse. This will keep you from running it all day and shave some dollars off your monthly bill.
6. Unplug the “Vampires”
Electrical vampires are devices that suck power even while they’re turned off. Things such as TVs, DVD players, coffee makers, etc. can use a lot of power when not in use, especially those that have built-in clocks or on/off indicator lights. Unplug them until you need to use them.
7. Give Your Stove a Break
Cooking on your stovetop or in your oven can heat things up and make your AC work overtime. Try to plan meals that don’t require any cooking, or use your grill more often. Summertime is great for farm stand fruits and vegetables, which are delicious fresh with little preparation.
8. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
Your clothes will still come clean without the heat. Additionally, if you can hang your clothes outside on a clothesline or drying rack, it’s even better. You’ll save money by cutting out the dryer, and your clothes will smell “clothesline fresh!”
Summertime doesn’t mean you have to go broke paying off your electric bill, and you don’t have to sweat it out in the heat either. We tend to forget that the air conditioning is even running a lot of the time. However, if you’re mindful every time you run the air conditioning and you judge the current conditions and if you need to run it, then you’ll do so less often. Most of the time, your air conditioning is a luxury, not a necessity. Keeping your system running efficiently will allow you to stay cool and not break the bank.