While you may be looking forward to the arrival of summer, higher electric bills are also on the horizon. While air conditioning will increase your energy use, that doesn't mean your summer electric bills aren't out of your control. There are several steps you can take to stay cool while reducing your energy use.
Moving air can feel five degrees or more cooler than still air. Ceiling fans don't use much more energy than a light bulb, so they cost just pennies per day to run. Compare this to an air conditioner that adds several dollars per day to your air conditioning bill, and you're guaranteed to save money if you can use fans to cut your air conditioning use.
Just remember to turn your fans off when you leave the room. They don't do anything when they aren't blowing on you, so leaving them on wastes electricity.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
You may be tempted to leave your air conditioner on all day so you don't have to come home to a hot house at the end of the day. With 24 hours in a day, leaving your air conditioner off for what are usually the hottest 8 hours of the day while you're at work could cut your air conditioner's energy use by over a third.
To solve the problem of coming back to a hot house, use a programmable thermostat to turn the temperature up when you leave and have your house automatically cool itself shortly before you return.
Keep Heat Out
One of the biggest ways to save energy is to remember that your air conditioner's job isn't to cool your house but to remove the heat from it. The more heat you can keep out, the less you need to use your air conditioner. Each season, check the weatherstripping on your doors and the caulk around your windows. Use heavy curtains on sun-facing windows to keep the sun's rays from heating up your home.
More involved, but still cost-effective, projects could include installing exterior awnings or adding attic insulation. When deciding whether a project is worth it, remember that the one-time cost could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of your home.