Depending on where one lives, cooling an indoor environment can cost as much or more than winter heating. On average, families spend hundreds of dollars to cool their homes. There are many different ways to cut cooling utility bills. However, the actual savings realized will also depend on individual climates.
Bigger is Not Better
Some feel that larger window or central air-conditioning units will not only make environments more comfortable but also save on expenses in the long run. In fact, units that are excessively large are less efficient. Over-sized appliances cool homes to the set-point before dehumidification takes place. Interior spaces then feel clammy and humid, which may encourage mold growth.
Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Though more expensive initially, the durability of CFL bulbs save on lighting costs. Additionally, unlike incandescent or fluorescent tube lighting, these bulbs do not produce noticeable heat. Old-fashioned bulbs convert 90 percent of the electricity consumed into heat, which adds to cooling expenses.
Available in a number of options, styles and price, these easy to do-it-yourself upgrades pay for themselves in very little time. Consider setting cooling systems six or more degrees higher when not at home during the day or when sleeping at night. Keep the setting at around 78 degrees Fahrenheit when at home and during waking hours. This simple act can save monthly costs anywhere from five to 20 percent.
Not unlike furnaces, air-conditioning filters require regular cleaning and changing. Cottonwood and similar trees drop seeds that could impede filter performance in outdoor units. Window units typically collect dust and other indoor debris. Dirty filters are one of the leading causes of AC malfunction and add approximately seven percent to cooling costs every year. Central and window units typically have removable filters behind the visible inlet grill that are easily cleaned with soap and water or changed. A specialist from One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating (West Pasco) says your air conditioner can last up to twice as long with proper maintenance. This means that skipping a tune-up or cleaning should never be an option—to get the most out of your cooling system, take care of it.
In homes older than 10 years, duct joints can leak 20-30 percent of the air that passes through them, which adds to the cost of cooling. Check ducts that run through attics, basements and crawl spaces for escaping air. Joints are easily sealed using any number of available products. Also consider insulating duct work with products rated at R-6 or higher.
When outdoor temperatures climb past the 95 degree mark or summer storms add humidity, indoor cooling becomes a necessity for many. By performing a few simple tasks, homeowners can cut expenses while staying comfortable.