When the hottest days of summer roll around, it's lovely to be able to turn on the air conditioner and bask in the comfort of a cool home. However, running an air conditioner can be costly. Don't get stuck choosing between comfort and affordability in the summer months. These four strategies will ensure you're not paying any more than necessary to run your air conditioner.
1. Change your air filter every month.
When you had your air conditioner installed, your technician, like one from HomeSmart From Xcel Energy, probably told you to change the filter every month. If you're like many homeowners, however, you ignored this advice because you got too busy or never really thought about the filter again. A dirty filter does more than cause excess dust and dirt to be thrown through your home. It also makes the air conditioner work harder to push air through the system, which requires it to expend more energy and raises your energy bills.
Change your air conditioner filter now, and then get into the habit of doing so every 4-6 weeks. Disposable filters are only a dollar or two; buy a whole stack now, so you don't keep forgetting to replace yours later on.
2. Block off the basement.
In most homes, the basement stays pretty cool without any air conditioning, since it is located below ground within the cool earth. However, since heat always rises, if you leave your basement doors open when the air conditioning is on, any residual heat from the basement will work its way upstairs, while your basement continues to get cooler and cooler. Don't waste money super-cooling your basement. Shut those basement doors.
If you do not have doors that close off your basement, consider temporarily hanging a thick felt curtain or blanket across the doorway leading to the basement. You can take it down when air conditioning season is over. This is a quick, inexpensive fix that will help keep your air conditioning bills lower all summer.
3. Don't turn the system on and off frequently.
A lot of homeowners make the mistake of turning their air conditioners off and opening the windows whenever the outdoor temperature temporarily becomes more tolerable. This is actually a bad idea, since it lets all of the humidity back into your home. Now that the home is more humid, when you turn the air conditioner back on, that air conditioner will have to work harder to cool it off and eject all of that moisture again.
A more cost-effective strategy is to leave your air conditioning on constantly, but just turn it up a few degrees when you're not going to be home. This way, it will at least be removing some of the humidity slowly throughout the day, so it never has to work super-hard (and expend a huge amount of energy) to re-remove that humidity. Keep those windows shut, too!
4. Keep your ceiling fans on.
Ceiling fans do not require a lot of energy to run, and running them can help decrease your cooling bills. Running the fan ensures the air in your home stays evenly mixed, so you don't end up turning the air conditioning down extra low to cool those rooms that seem to stay warmer.
Turning on the ceiling fans also causes a down-draft, which keeps you feeling cooler at a higher temperature. For instance, with your ceiling fans on, you may feel comfortable at 74 degrees, whereas with them off, you feel too warm unless your thermostat is turned to 72. Keeping your home just 2 degrees warmer can save you a considerable amount of money in the summer.
By following the tips above, you will be able to run your air conditioner without paying an arm and a leg to your energy company. Remember that the newer your system, the more energy-efficient it is likely to be. If you're running a very outdated system, replacing it may be the best way to make your energy costs more manageable.