10 Ways to Save on Air Conditioning Costs That Will Keep the Heat Off Your Energy Bill

Save on the costs of air conditioning by following these tips.

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:00PM
Summerheatingcosts

Summer is right around the corner, which means endless sunshine, barbecues, travel, and pool parties. For people hoping to beat the heat this summer, it might be time for you to think about purchasing an air conditioner or replacing your old unit.

While there are cheaper ways to cool down — fans, staying hydrated, closing the curtains — in the summer heat, nothing beats the chill of an air conditioner. According to the U.S. Energy Department, two-thirds of all U.S. homes have an air conditioning unit. Air conditioners use about 5 percent of all the electricity produced in America at an annual cost of more than $11 billion to homeowners.

Operating much like a refrigerator, air conditioners use energy, typically electricity, to transfer heat from the interior of your home to the outside environment. To cool an area, air conditioners must be able to lower air temperature, remove air moisture, and filter the air. As cool as an air conditioner is — literally — using a unit during the hot summer months will definitely take a big bite out of your energy bill. Save on the costs of air conditioning by following these tips.

1. Replace your old unit
If your AC system is more than 10 years old or not keeping your home as cool as it once did, it might be time to replace it. While the cost of buying a new unit will initially put a dent in your wallet, your savings over time will be more than worth it. Replacing your AC with an ENERGY STAR unit could cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200. Before replacing your unit, though, make sure that the lack of cooling isn't due to a leak in your house or another problem.

2. Proper installation
Replacing your old cooling unit with a newer model is great, but to get the maximum benefits of an energy-efficient unit you need to have it properly installed. Improper installation of a unit can reduce efficiency by up to 30 percent, according to Energy Star.

3. Change your air filter
By checking your air filter every month, especially during months when your AC is heavily used, can save you energy costs. If the filter is dirty, change it. Dirty filters slow air flow, which makes it harder for your system to keep you cool and reduces your unit's efficiency. You should change your filter at least every three months.

4. Set up a programmable thermostat
If your central air is controlled by a thermostat, install a programmable one to save energy. When you are out of the house, increase the heat controlled by your cooling system a few degrees to shave off between 5-20 percent of your energy bill. Properly using pre-programmed settings on a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

5. Install ceiling fans
Fans are a surefire way to cool down during the hot summer months. Fans can make you feel anywhere from 3-8 degrees cooler, which means you can increase the temperature at which your AC will blast air — saving on energy costs.

6. Remember Mother Nature

Heat enters a house from the sun shining through the roof or windows. The more trees or shrubs you have surrounding your home, the less likely the sun will be able to reach inside your abode. A cooler home means you will be use the AC less.

7. Cover your windows
Solar or mesh window screens and window films will intercept some of the energy from the sun before it enters your house. Window awnings can reduce solar heat in the summer by up to 77 percent, according to the Energy Department. Blinds are effective at reducing summer heat (moreso than gaining heat during the winter months). If you have drapes on windows, be sure to close them. Medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent. The more heat you can prevent from entering your home, the cheaper your energy bill will be.

8. Avoid the stove
Boiling something on the stove or baking something in the oven will only increase indoor heat and cause you to run the AC. Eat something cool like a salad or use the microwave. If you have to use the stove, cook in the evening when temperatures are cooler. After you cook be sure to turn on the kitchen exhaust. The cooler you can keep your home, the better so that you don't have to run the AC too long or too often.

9. Cool one room
If a central air system is just too expensive, a small window unit will help you beat the heat. Cooling one room with a window AC unit will use much less energy than a central system. To figure out the right unit for your room, take a look at this guide by Energy Star.

10. Don't get an oversized unit
Many people want to buy the biggest AC unit available with the mind-set that it will provide the best cooling. But an AC that's oversized is both inefficient and a huge waste of money. An AC that's too big will cool down the room too quickly before it has reached its maximum efficiency level. It will cool the room, but only remove some of the humidity, leaving it damp and feeling clammy. Make sure to get a unit that's the right size for your room.

Do you know this energy tax "loophole"?
You already know record oil and natural gas production is changing the lives of millions of Americans. But what you probably haven't heard is that the IRS is encouraging investors to support our growing energy renaissance, offering you a tax loophole to invest in some of America's greatest energy companies. Take advantage of this profitable opportunity by grabbing your brand-new special report, "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," and you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

This article 10 Ways to Save on Air Conditioning Costs That Will Keep the Heat Off Your Energy Bill originally appeared on My Bank Tracker. 

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers