Nine Tips To Save Money on Your Air Conditioner

hot sunsetAir conditioning is typically the biggest drain on electricity in a home!? That said, it is hard to get something (anything!) done if you are stuck in a 90 degree house with 95% humidity. Plus, if it gets too hot then it becomes unsafe. I do not think that frugality should ever be uncomfortable! But, there are a few things that you can do to help.

Weatherproof – many people think about weatherproofing in the winter when the air is drafty. But, those leaks are still there in the summer heat and they will make a bad impact on your pocketbook.

Raise the Temperature – Every degree below 78 will cost an average of 4% extra on your bill. Start high and move down only if you need to – that way you will get the highest comfortable temperature.

Ceiling Fans and make them Spin the Right Way! In the summer the fans should be spinning down (counter-clockwise). You should feel the air blowing down on you. There is usually a switch on the side of your fan so you can change the direction at the start of the new season.

Programmable Thermostats – Just like with heat in the winter, a programmable thermostat can save a lot of money in the summer. Set it up so the house warms up when you are gone and begins to cool off just before you get home again. If you are okay with it being a little warmer at night then program that.

Close the Registers and Doors in Unused Rooms – If you aren’t using the room then close the register and door. There is no need to cool the room if nobody is in it!

Replace your Filter – Replace the filter every 1-3 months for best results. The last study I saw did not find significant (money saving) difference between the most and least expensive filter types.

Shade your Condenser Unit – Units in full sun use 10% more energy

Window Shades – When your windows are facing the full sun close the shades/drapes. Solar energy can really heat the house fast!

Rice Packs – Rice packs are great for heat, but they can cool you off too! Put it in the freezer and when you are feeling like you need to turn the air down put it on your head and see if that helps.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen May 6, 2009 at 1:32 am

Good tips. I already use several of these idea and found that they help a lot. We put solar screens on our windows and while we did have the expense of the screens, it made a big difference the last few summers. Lessening the amount of sunlight pouring in the windows made it easier to feel cool at higher temperatures.


2 LittlePeopleWealth May 6, 2009 at 3:06 am

That is a great idea!


3 MaryAnne May 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Great ideas, I especially love the rice pack tip!


4 JackimoT May 6, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I’ve got a 10th one! Use your AC less! LoL No seriously though, with big push on tax credits and stuff this is the year to pick up a solar attic fan. I got mine installed right before the scortcher (90 degree day) we had 2 weeks ago. It cools down the attic which in turn cools the rest of your house down by a few degrees, that way you don’t need to use your AC as much and when you don’t it doesn’t have to work as hard, saving you money!


5 LittlePeopleWealth May 6, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I used to hate using cold rice packs… until I was pregnant – then that changed, LOL!

We have an attic fan, but it doesn’t work and I don’t know enough about it to get it fixed. A solar one sounds really neat though!


6 BargainMoms May 7, 2009 at 1:04 am

I don’t know if it’s because I am nursing, so the hormones are still all crazy, but I am dying already this summer! I can’t wait for the heat to be over!

Great post!


7 LittlePeopleWealth May 7, 2009 at 1:24 am

Right after I had my son we kept the house much cooler than usual – I was so hot!


8 Money Beagle May 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm

There’s actually one other thing you can do that makes a big difference and that is to use aluminum tape to cover the joints in the exposed ductwork (typically in the basement). You’d be amazed at how much air escapes around every bend, turn or extension. This became evident to me when, over the winter, I stuck my head up in the suspended ceiling that covers half of our basement and it was stifling warm due to all the heat that was escaping in the ductwork that was hidden above the ceiling.

Once you start going through, you’ll probably also find that the installers left gaps. I found a couple gaps over an inch thick. Imagine all the wasted heat and A/C air that had been escaping through the years.

I just started working on this over the winter and have about half of ours done. Getting to the stuff above the suspended ceiling is tedious. My father-in-law says, too, that because colder air is denser than warmed air, that it actually makes a bigger difference with regards to the A/C than it does to the heat, so I’m excited to see if there’s a difference in our bill with the upcoming cooling season.

You can buy aluminum tape for pretty cheap at any hardware store. Be careful, though, not to use duct tape. Even though you might think that duct tape is a good thing to cover ducts, it’s not. It will come loose within a couple of years whereas the aluminum tape will stay in place for as long as the ductwork exists.


9 LittlePeopleWealth May 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

That’s a great tip, thanks! I’ll have to check ours tonight 🙂


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