Is Your A/C Eating Money? 8 Easy Ways to Shrink Energy Bills And Stay Cool
After a nerve-wracking spring for many (with unusually high instances of cabin fever), California’s finally made it to summer 2020.
This is an achievement worth celebrating: around April(ish, it got hard to remember months somewhere in there) even reaching summer may have occasionally seemed (to use the official word of Spring 2020) uncertain.
So we Californians have more reason to revel in summer than ever.
Since this is also the season of California’s highest electric bills, we’re celebrating by giving you 5 tips to enjoy both a cool summer and a lower energy bill:
As temperatures soar above 90, our air conditioners work hard to keep us comfortably chilly. But they’re also responsible for a vast portion of our energy expenses, so keep cool and carry on with these 8 air conditioning tips to save energy:
1. Make Your A/C Work Smarter, Not Harder
Raising your thermostat just 1 degree nearer the outdoor temperature can save you 3% of your A/C-related expenses. Many people are perfectly comfortable in a 78 degree home (the temperature recommended by Energy Saver) and you can save even more by raising it to 82 when no one’s home.
2. Replace Air Filters Monthly
Speaking of making your A/C work smarter, not harder:
Dirt and debris prevent much-needed cool air from getting where it needs to go (to you). So a clogged A/C unit needs to pump out more cold air — and use up more of your money — to maintain the desired temperature.
Switching out your air filter once a month makes your A/C much more effective, reducing its energy use (and your bill) by 5-15%.
3. Be a Fan of Fans
A ceiling fan cools a room by about 4 degrees, at a much smaller price than an A/C unit would. With its help, you can maintain a chill 74 degree home even if your thermostat is set up to 78.
4. Have an Open-Window Policy At Night
Oh, those (desert) summer nights.
Southern Californians all know that the temperature can plummet 30 degrees just in the half hour after sunset — a welcome reprieve from 100+ days.
Make this naturally cooled air work for you by opening your windows at night and allowing it to sweep through your home. People in humid climates don’t have this option (they’re stuck with hot nights as well as days), so take advantage of it!
5. …And Covered Windows During the Day
Of course, the flip side of a desert climate is that the temperature skyrockets after dawn. On sunny days (and what else does California have in the summer?) the sunlight beaming through windows can quickly heat a room.
To prevent this unwanted heat, cover windows with one of the following options:
- Curtains (33% effective against heat gain)
- Blinds (45% effective against heat gain)
- Window Films (if you want to enjoy the view without the heat)
6. Keep Cold Air In and Hot Air Out
Poorly insulated homes let the precious cold air that you’re paying for seep out — and hot air in. Make sure that your home is free from any cracks, air leaks, and unprotected windows:
- To check for leaks around windows and doors, run your hand around the outside of all windows and doors while the A/C is on.
- If you feel cold air around a window frame, caulk it. If it’s around a doorway, insulate around that door.
- Also check your basement and foundations for cracks. Cold air sinks, so these are the likely culprit areas.
7. Pull the Plug on Energy Vampires
As more people work, attend classes, and entertain themselves at home, our favorite electronics are more in use than ever. (Will AMC theaters ever open up? At least we still have Netflix.)
Fortunately, you can make your home a center of education, productivity, and fun without the high electricity bill to show for it.
When they’re not in use, unplug these “energy vampires,” which are notorious for sucking up energy even in standby mode:
- Computers and computer equipment
- Surround sound systems
- Cable and satellite TV boxes
- Devices that have a clock (for example, DVD players and microwaves.
In addition, use your laptop instead of a desk computer whenever possible — laptops use less electricity.
Unplugging these vampire electronics pays off: it can save you up to 10% of your annual electric bill.
8. Can’t Stand the Heat? Don’t Get Out of the Kitchen Yet
After a spring of experimenting with online recipes while restaurants were limited to carry-out, both new and experienced home chefs can now create appetizing and delectable dishes without paying for a restaurant’s worth of electricity:
1. Set your Fridge to 37-39 F and Freezer to 0-5 F.
This will safely preserve your food without unnecessarily frigid (and expensive) temperatures.
2. The Smaller the Appliance, the Cooler.
Use the smallest appliance possible to cook a dish. For example, bake your famous peach-blueberry crisp in the microwave, not the oven.
This will not only keep your kitchen cooler, but also keep you from spending money on extra heating that you definitely don’t need in summer!
And of course, there’s always the grill — a deservedly popular summertime tradition that doesn’t heat the indoors at all.
These 8 tips will let you enjoy a refreshing summer without paying the price. The Duthie team wishes you a fun and relaxing Summer 2020!