Those dog days of summer are upon us, and the hot and sweaty days mean lots of air conditioning — and an outrageous energy bill. Before your finances melt faster than ice cream in the sun, rest assured that there are lots of easy (and eco-friendly) strategies you can take to help both your wallet and the world around you. Below, we’ve outlined 3 of the smartest ways to cut energy costs this summer, so you can spend less on the AC and more on that vacation.
1) Chill out
While it can be tempting to keep the A/C going from June to September, think about all the times that you don’t really need it on. It’s best to switch it off during the day when you and your family aren’t at home and to turn it down at night when the temperatures naturally drop. This will save you hours of energy usage, which translates to big savings on that bill.
Another smart idea is to use the timer on your cooling system or buy an inexpensive timer from the hardware store if your unit doesn’t have one. This will allow you to set a schedule for your air conditioner usage, so you won’t accidentally forget to switch it off when you leave for work. You can also use it to turn the unit on about a half hour or so before you return home, so you can count on coming back to a nice cool house when work is done — saving money all the while.
2) Be A Fan
For those days that aren’t quite so hot, give the air conditioner a break and turn on a fan instead. These old standbys use far less energy than the A/C, and they circulate air more efficiently. They also cost about 1 cent to run for every three hours of usage, as opposed to about 50 cents per hour for air conditioners. That might not seem like a lot, but if you consider the fact that you’ll use some form of cooling virtually every day during summer, those cents turn into big bills in the blink of an eye. For the most effective cooling, consider installing ceiling fans. They’ll be particularly helpful in areas with the most use, like the living room and bedrooms. For other areas, a simple box fan in the window is all you’ll need to cool off without melting away your budget.
3) Frame Of Reference
If you’re constantly cranking up the A/C, it’s probably not that the unit is broken — your windows are likely to blame. Old windows are prone to cracks, which allows all that nice, cool air to escape. Plus, if your panes aren’t energy-efficient, they’ll absorb more heat from the sun and cause your indoor temperatures to rise. To combat this, consider replacement windows, or upgrading to wood or fiberglass frames. Both materials are resistant to energy transfers and can withstand the summer heat without cracking or warping, which will keep your home cooler and cause you to rely less on the air conditioner. They’re also biodegradable, recyclable, and emit fewer emissions than other materials in manufacturing, making them a truly “green” investment.
It’s entirely possible to stay cool all summer long while still cutting down your energy usage and chopping that utility bill in a big way. Whether you install a timer on your air conditioner or choose to chill with a fan, you’ll be doing your part to help reduce emissions from local power plants and make the world a greener place.
About the Author: Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement and strives to educate people about lifetime remodeling solutions such as metal roofing. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.