Air Conditioning Economy

We are all extremely thankful for the great relief from the summer heat that air conditioning affords us, but how do we economize on an energy intensive system?

When the quarterly electricity bill arrives following the summer season, it's often viewed with surprise and not a little exasperation because of the high price our air conditioned house has created.

air conditioning economySurely there must be a way to reduce that cost?

Fortunately, there is a way.

Being Sensible with Air Conditioning

The simplest answer to any problem is generally the best. In the case of air conditioning in the home, some of the simplest solutions are often staring us right in the face.

There are some things we can do right away that will have an impact on how much energy our cooling system uses day by day. Mostly, it requires a little common sense and being aware of how our homes are wasting that precious (and expensive) energy.

Let's take a look at some of the things just about anyone can address without any specialized knowledge or technical skill.

1. Pay Attention to the Thermostat

If you didn't already know it, the thermostat that controls the internal temperature of your home is arguably the very first place you can look to see where energy is being needlessly wasted.

How does that work? Simple.

Take a look at the temperature the thermostat is set to. My guess is that it is likely lower than it needs to be for your home to feel comfortable. In some cases, it is a lot lower!

I have visited so many homes where it actually felt cold inside. Upon glancing at the main thermostat, the reason became clear as a setting of below 70°F is common.

I've been in some homes where the thermostat was set as low as 64°F and the occupants were all smiles sitting there wearing big thick pullovers in the middle of summer!

If you haven't already seen the obvious mistake these people are making, I'll spell it out.

When you force your AC system to maintain such a cold internal temperature when it's roasting hot outside, it will use an enormous amount of additional energy to fulfil your demands. All that additional energy must be paid for, of course!

Common sense tells us that it costs less to use less energy and to use less energy, you need to get your AC to not work so hard. You do that by turning up the thermostat!

A comfortable internal temperature is one that you can feel comfortable in wearing light, summer clothes. Personally, I feel perfectly comfortable when my home is around 72°F, so that's where I set my thermostat.

Interestingly, it's the same setting I have in winter. My home feels comfortable all year round at that temperature.

Not too hot in winter and not too cold in summer. I save a considerable amount of money off all my electricity bills thanks to this one, simple yet obvious trick that's not even a trick!

2. Seal Your Home

Another thing that causes air conditioners to work harder than normal and use more energy is when hot air from outside gets into the house. Sure, you can't realistically completely seal your home from the outside atmosphere as there needs to be some cycling of air.

And even modern building materials will allow a small amount of outside heat to be absorbed through outer walls and radiated inside. That's normally taken care of by the AC.

However, more of that outside hot air can find its way inside through any gaps or holes that can be plugged. For example, older window and door frames may suffer from visible cracks or gaps that can be easily sealed with caulk.

3. Insulate

If your attic is not insulated, a lot of your expensive energy that is converted to cool air will be wasted through the roof as hot air from outside heats up your attic and that heat radiates into your home.

Likewise, in winter your home will lose heat to the outside through an uninsulated attic (costing you even more money on wasted energy). While there is an initial cost involved in getting your attic insulated, that cost is offset by the saving you will make year after year by not wasting so much energy.

4. Shading

You can also help your air conditioning system by reducing the load on it by shading parts of the house.

Keeping the direct rays of the sun from falling external walls will prevent them from heating up as much and that will reduce the amount of heat they will radiate into the inside. If you already have awnings fitted, use them!

Shading windows will also reduce a lot of heating up as the sun's heat passes through the glass like it does in a greenhouse. Window awnings or even blinds where fitted are great for cutting the amount of sunlight that can get through your windows.

Of course, there is not much that can beat the shade of a big old tree. I know a family that has two large oaks shading their house and it stays cool enough in summer they rarely ever even need to turn on the AC!

5. Swamp Coolers

Another way to reduce your cooling energy load is to swap out the air conditioning for swamp coolers (evaporative coolers) that use something like one twentieth of the amount of electricity that AC does. As long as you live in a relatively dry climate (low humidity), these coolers can save you a small fortune when used in place of AC.

Of course, if you already have a nice air conditioned home that you've gotten used to over the years, it can seem a bit difficult to make the change to a different way of cooling. But if you live in the right place for evaporative cooling to be effective and you've had it with high electricity bills, this could be a sensible (and economical) solution.

I mentioned humidity, but I should make the point that if you do happen to live in an area with high humidity in summer (50% or higher), you should probably stay with AC as evaporative coolers (sometimes referred to as ventless air conditioners) are not so effective at higher humidity levels.


You can save money when you don't waste energy, because less electricity used means lower utility bills. That's pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people I know that just can't see it.

Simply altering the thermostat setting a few notches so it's not quite so cold indoors can save a surprising amount of money because the AC isn't working so hard and therefore is using less energy.

Shading and insulating your home can also make a big difference to the internal temperature. In some cases, where shading is good enough, it can mean you don't even need the AC to be turned on and still feel comfortable on all but the hottest days.

Use your common sense, be aware of your air conditioning and how hard it's working and with a few tweaks and tinkering you could find yourself saving money on electricity bills too!

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