We’re nearing peak summer temperatures, so why don’t we talk about lowering costs? Most people today have invested in some type of air conditioner. Whether it’s a window air conditioner, a portable air conditioner, or central air conditioning, we’ve all got a hand in the deal. Many people love their air conditioner’s ability to keep them nice and cool in the summertime, but when they receive their bill they often feel robbed. While we’d all love to be able to fully control the total cost of running an air conditioner, there are just some things we can’t control.
Your location of your home directly affects the total running cost of your air conditioner unit. If you live someplace that has hot summers and cold winters, as opposed to mild summers and warmer winters, you’ll be running your air conditioning more to keep cool. Thus, your air conditioner will be working harder to maintain that cooler temperature. What does this mean? If you live in Arizona, your AC costs will be substantially higher than someone who lives in Washington.
Your air conditioner’s energy rating also has an effect on your energy bill. All air conditioners come with two types of energy ratings: EER and SEER. These ratings are put into effect so you can see how much energy your air conditioning unit will use over a course of time, or during a typical season. If you have older equipment, your SEER rating is probably substantially low. As of January 2006, all residential air conditioning units must have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. However, window air conditioning units ratings do not fall under this regulation, so you may see some window units with SEER ratings of as low as 9.
The difference in weather patterns each year are also a factor when it comes to air conditioning costs. Whether you believe in global warming or not, it is simply a fact that some years are hotter than others. Obviously, hotter years will raise the total price on your energy bill.
Also consider the size of your air conditioning unit versus the house-cooling load. The size of your unit definitely matters. Before purchasing a new unit, consider how much area you need to keep cool. If you live in a 1-bedroom apartment, you probably won’t need a unit as large as what would be needed to cool a 4-bedroom house. Larger systems will end up costing more money, but it’s a requirement in order to efficiently cool a larger area.
The setting of your thermostat is another factor to consider. Obviously, the lower you put the temperature setting, especially for long periods of time, the more energy you’re eating up. If you leave the air conditioner setting at 78 degrees, you can cut your energy costs by 10% to 20%.
The last thing to consider when it comes to your cooling costs is the local price of electricity. This is something that cannot be controlled, unless you decide to do some type of energy shopping. Many areas do not have two or more energy companies to choose from, so it’s not easy to compare energy rates. Unfortunately, most people are locked in to the rates they have, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
With all that in mind, here are a few things you can do to lower your energy costs.
- Replace or clean your filters regularly. This ensures your system can run at peak efficiency.
- When you’re not in your home, raise your thermostat.
- Keep the thermostat at 78, if possible, when you are in the home. If possible, you can always raise it higher and use ceiling fans in conjunction to keep yourself comfortable.
- Choose an air conditioner with a SEER of at least 13. If you’re currently running on older equipment, consider an upgrade to newer technology with a higher SEER. While the cost upfront will be substantial, the energy savings over the years will end up paying for the system, as well as giving you additional savings each month.
- Close vents and doors to rooms that are not in use. This will allow you to cool the rooms that are being used quickly and with a higher temperature on the thermostat.
- If possible, shade your windows. The amount of radiant heat that sneaks in your house from the sun is stagger. Many find that by closing blinds or drapes in their homes, they spend substantially less each month trying to keep the house cool.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Set temperatures for certain times. The thermostat can be set higher at night when you are sleeping and the temperatures outside cool. If you’re typically gone from 9am-5pm, set the thermostat higher during these times.