While we’ve had a wild batch of April weather in many parts of the country, it seems that spring may finally be here. Maybe. For the sake of this article, let’s go with that assumption. With the weather (potentially) heating up, that means it’ll be time to start up the air conditioner. For many of us, it might be the first time we’ve had to do it all year. That means increased electricity usage.
Naturally though with the air conditioner coming on, that means more electricity usage and therefore higher utility bills each month. Not ideal, for sure, but tradeoffs must be made in order to stay cool. So how can you minimize this increase in cost? Well, there are a few ways. First, let’s look at how much your AC unit might be costing you.
According to government data, an HVAC unit accounts for nearly half of the power usage of a typical American home. That’s significant. Breaking it down to dollars and cents, someone created a pretty great tool for calculating how much you might be spending each month. You can plug in your power usage, your electricity rate, and how many hours you use your unit. It then spits out a number that’s a pretty good estimate. Even just running a unit 3 hours a day can cost nearly $50 a month.
To minimize these costs, they are several ways to do it. Some are pretty pricey while others are simple and require little effort (although maybe some discipline).
One way is to replace your old windows or doors with new, high efficiency ones. This will keep more of the air that you’ve spent cooling in your house, instead of outside. There may be an a big upfront cost, but this change will save you money in the long run as well as increase the value of your home.
Other way is to install and use a whole house fan. This method may seem a little different, but in many ways it’s quite similar to old fashioned methods for cooling a house before the invention of air conditioning. The fans take the hot air and exhaust it through the attic between 30 and 60 times a day. Combined with ceiling fans, it can provide a reported level of accepted coolness.
One final way to save some money while still keeping your house cooler is to be smart about the temperature you set the thermostat. This can mean a couple of different things. It can be as simple as keeping the thermostat a couple of degrees higher than you typically do. Another way is to increase the temperature when you leave the house for an extended period of time, like work.
In America, we both produce and use a lot of energy. In the summer, much of this energy usage in American homes comes from keeping our houses cool. While air conditioning is seemingly a necessity in many parts of the country, it can cost a lot in monthly bills. There are many ways to reduce this energy usage and all it takes is either a little effort upfront or a little discipline.