It’s hot out there! With temperatures reaching nearly triple digits in many parts of the country, air conditioning systems are working extra hard to keep you cool. While air conditioners provide comfort, they also use a lot of power. The Energy Information Administration estimates cooling accounts for about 6 percent of the total energy used in average American households -- costing consumers about $11 billion a year!
Here are some simple steps you can take to stay cool and save energy on hot summer days:
1. Become a fan of fans.
For central air conditioning systems, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees Fahrenheit without sacrificing comfort. If you have a window air conditioner unit, try using a fan nearby to spread cooler air to other parts of the room and house.
2. Maintain your equipment.
When was the last time you swapped out your air conditioner filter? Routinely replacing the filter could lower your air conditioner's energy consumption 5 to 15 percent. Even with filters, your system’s evaporator coils can sometimes collect dirt. Check and clean these to help improve airflow. Here are more air conditioner maintenance tips.
3. Set that thermostat.
When it comes to home cooling, every degree matters. You could save 10 percent a year on cooling costs by turning your thermostat up 7 to 10 degrees from its normal cooling setting for just eight hours a day. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
4. Seal those cracks.
5. Block out the sun.
When you’re outside, shade is a welcome respite from the glaring hot summer sun. The same can be said for the inside of your home. Energy efficient window treatments like blinds can block sunlight and keep the heat out. Highly reflective blinds can slash heat gain about 45 percent when totally closed and lowered.