While extremely necessary in the summertime, the cool air flowing through your home might be costing you big bucks. As your air conditioning (A/C) unit works harder, electric bills grow larger. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, people in hot and humid regions dedicate 27% of a year’s energy bills just to A/C costs. However, those power percentages don’t have to be so high. Follow these tips on how to save money on an electric bill and cut down your A/C’s workload.
1. Make sure your A/C is properly sized.
When purchasing your air conditioning unit, make sure it's the appropriate size. An oversized unit may cool the room quickly, but it'll also cycle on and off frequently and waste energy. Conversely, a smaller unit will struggle to cool your home effectively. Follow this guide from American Standard Air for the right HVAC unit according to the size of your home.
2. Optimize your thermostat settings.
One of the simplest ways to decrease air conditioning costs is to optimize your thermostat settings. Setting your thermostat to a higher temperature when you're away or asleep can lead to substantial savings. Aim for a temperature that's manageable but not excessively cool, preferably around 78°F (25.5°C).
3. Run fans.
Running ceiling fans and portable fans can trim a high electric bill. These machines use less electricity and circulate cooled air, so you can raise the thermostat while maintaining comfort. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise, and remember to turn them off when you leave a room.
4. Conduct regular maintenance checks.
Keeping your air conditioning unit well-maintained can reduce its energy consumption. Schedule maintenance checks twice a year. During these tune-ups, you should:
- Clean or replace filters and condenser fins and fans
- Clear debris around the outdoor unit
- Level the unit
- Confirm the system is functioning well
Read more: 12 tips for DIY washer & dryer maintenance.
5. Seal air leaks.
Cool air can escape through cracks and gaps, making your home feel hotter and sending the A/C—and your electric bills—soaring. To prevent this, seal air leaks around:
- Wiring holes
- Plumbing vents
- Furnace ducts
Weatherstripping and caulk are cost-effective solutions that can keep the cool air inside and ease the workload on your air conditioner. Look for both at your local hardware store and follow online guides for instructions.
6. Use a smart thermostat.
With a smart thermostat, you can set specific temperature schedules throughout the day, so you aren’t cooling an empty house. EnergyStar estimates that some smart thermostats can help bring heating and cooling costs down by almost 10% each year.
7. Close blinds and curtains.
Sunlight streaming through windows can heat your home and force the air conditioner to work harder. Close curtains and blinds with the slats turned up to direct heat toward your ceiling and keep room temperatures low.
8. Consider stovetop alternatives.
Kitchen appliances can also add to the heat indoors. Try to use your stovetop sparingly to reduce the amount of heat inside and help your air conditioner operate more efficiently. Instead of the stovetop, opt for:
- Air frying
Need grilling inspo? Check out these unsuspecting foods that taste glorious when grilled!
9. Leverage natural ventilation.
Whenever possible, take advantage of cooler evenings or early morning temperatures to ventilate your home naturally. Open windows and let fresh air flow to give your air conditioner a much-needed break.
10. Create cross-ventilation.
Promote cross-ventilation by strategically opening windows on opposite sides of your home. This allows fresh air to flow through and flush out hot air, creating a breeze without relying solely on the air conditioner.
11. Use energy-efficient appliances.
The Energy Resource Center reports that energy-efficient appliances can save you hundreds of dollars per year. If you're considering upgrading your appliances, opt for energy-efficient models for:
- Kitchen appliances (Air fryer, toaster, blenders, etc.)
These save you money in the long run by using less power to function.
12. Minimize heat-generating activities.
Certain activities, such as running the dishwasher or using the dryer, can generate additional heat indoors. Postpone these tasks to cooler times of the day or during off-peak hours (typically from 8 AM-8 PM) to decrease the strain on your air conditioning system.
13. Conduct an energy audit.
A professional home energy assessment can give you a better idea of how to save on an electric bill. Pros can examine your entire house and make recommendations tailored to your location and structure. To find an energy assessment service in your area, contact your local government’s energy organization, or explore national programs like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score or Home Performance with Energy Star.
14. Recolor your roof.
The color of your roof can impact the amount of heat absorbed into your home. Darker colors will take in more heat, raising the demand for A/C and electric bill costs. Lighter color roofs have been shown to cut down temperatures significantly. If repainting, retiling, or shingling isn’t an option, place a white tarp over the parts of your home where the sun hits the strongest to help cool things down. As always, reference your community’s rules and regulations before making changes.
15. Replace HVAC filters regularly.
The filters in your home’s HVAC system block out particles that could impair performance. Believe it or not, studies show that clean filters can reduce energy use by up to 15%. Replacing them every three months ensures your home has cleaner air and a less stressed HVAC system.
Keep Energy Costs Low
The best way to save on an electric bill in the summer is by implementing these tips. Conducting an energy audit, minimizing heat-generating activities, using ceiling fans, and investing in a smart thermostat are all budget-conscious measures for the steamiest season of the year. Learn how to save money on your electric bill in the winter in our article, “Power Down: Hacks for Keeping Winter Energy Costs Low.”