Temperatures aren’t the only numbers on the rise during the summer months, so are energy costs. On average, cooling costs are around $400 a year per homeowner, but let’s be real honest — I know for a fact I have spent a significantly greater amount than that. I’m always looking for ways to keep my costs to a minimum, and what I’ve found are methods that can be applied to both central air systems and window units.
In terms of window units, the size is measured in Btus and the amount of energy required is dependent upon the size of the room. Getting an over-sized window unit will cool the room faster but then will turn on and off more frequently, which defeats the purpose of saving energy. The EnergyStar website will provide a standard chart on the number of Btu’s recommended for various room sizes, but then you have to evaluate your own specific factors as well. Remember, a sunny room will need more power while a darker room could still be comfortable with a smaller unit.
If you’re dealing with a central air system, you aren’t left entirely to your own resources for guidance, as you will probably work with a contractor. One thing to remember is that central air units come in multiple parts, so make sure your contractor is using pieces that compliment each other for maximum savings on energy, rather than piecing together a random unit. A rule of thumb to follow is if your unit is more than 15 years old, even if it’s still ticking along, thing about investing in a new system. The money you will save in efficiency is certainly going to be worth shelling out the initial cost. And don’t forget that you can opt for the $1500 tax credit if you purchase a new unit before the end of the year!
SEAL & MAINTAIN: Even with an energy-efficient model, you still may be sucking out more cold air than what is necessary. If there is a leak anywhere in your home, you’re just throwing dollars down the drain. Be sure to install window units accurately per the instructions so that you aren’t leaving any gaps in the windows. Air filters is another factor that will change how much energy you use on air conditioning. If the filter has too thick of a film, the unit has to work harder to push air through to the vents, in turn costing you more on your energy bill.
HABITS: A final thing you can do to lower your energy bills is to tweak your living habits. Very small chances can lead to very big savings over time. Buy a programmable thermostat so that you can set the temperature to be warmer during your anticipated routine hours away from the home. If you have a window unit, get one with a built-in timer. Also, if it’s not a blistering hot day — keep cool with your ceiling or area fan and add a few degrees to the ‘ole thermometer. Even keeping your home 2 degrees warmer in the summer can save you money. Also, if you have curtains or shades in your home, close them before you leave for a given period of time so the room doesn’t sit there and bake. This will keep your AC unit from running full-blast just to maintain a comfortable temperature.
I know it seems almost impossible to save money and cut corners when it comes to A/C in the summertime, but just with a little thought and effort, you can keep a few extra pennies in you pocket!
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