A major disadvantage of running air conditioning at home from an economy viewpoint is that it costs money. The more power it uses, the more money it costs you!
How wonderful it would be if you could take steps to reduce the amount of energy your system uses so that it would cost you fewer dollars to run while you enjoy the benefits of being cool in summer without the high running costs.
Well, believe it or not, there is something you can do that will reduce the amount of electricity your air conditioners use and save you money. Let's take a look at what's possible for most homeowners.
A lot depends on how you look at the system that keeps you cool when the weather outside is hot. A change in that viewpoint can dramatically reduce your monthly energy bill.
I know from experience that many people have a habit of cranking the AC thermostat to such a low level that the inside of their homes feels like the inside of an igloo in the arctic permafrost! They have no idea how much extra that level of cooling is actually costing them!
Here's where a shift in mindset can make a huge difference:
Instead of treating your air conditioning system like a refrigeration machine to make your home really cold, try instead thinking of it as a climate management system that is there to make your home feel comfortable. The emphasis is on the word comfortable!
To be able to relax in a comfortable temperature, you have to look at it this way. When it's cold outside and you want to feel warm but not too hot indoors, what temperature do you set the thermostat at?
In my home in winter, I usually set it around 75°F and that feels pretty comfortable. I can work, relax and watch TV without needing to wear extra pullovers because that's a pretty comfortable all-round temperature. I'm sure you'd agree with me on that.
So if that's what feel comfortable in winter, it should also feel comfortable in spring, fall and… summer, right?
If you're someone who has been setting their thermostat at around 60°F in summer, think I just caused something to flip inside your brain. I know it can come as quite a shock of realization, but 75°F does actually feel comfortable in summer too!
Now consider this:
How much less energy do you think your AC will use if it only has to keep your house at 75°F than if it had to work like crazy to force it down to 60°F?
The answer is a heck of a lot!
Even if you're setting the thermostat to a more moderate 68°F in summer, raising it to 75°F will still make a big difference in how much your electricity bill will be.
So that's just one way to reduce your cooling costs. Sure, it can make a big difference, but there are even more things you can do to save money.
One of the big problems faced by cooling systems is keeping the outdoor temperature from getting in and making it work harder to keep things nice and cool. The main heat source out there is the sun, obviously.
What you may not be aware of is that the sun will heat up whatever its rays fall on. It heats up your roof as well as the walls of the house that are facing it. The most heavily affected walls are the south and west-facing walls, since they tend to absorb heat from the sun when it's at its hottest during the day.
Hot exterior walls radiate that heat into the interior of the house, making the AC work extra hard to keep it cool. If you could keep the sun off those walls by having some kind of shading, you would greatly reduce the amount the walls heat up.
Another great way to keep the heat of the day out of the house is to insulate it. Good insulation can prevent a lot of the outside heat from being radiated into the interior of the house.
Keeping that heat out helps to reduce the load on the air conditioner and that means less electricity is used, costing you less.
On a similar note, it is also a good idea to fill any cracks or holes in window and door frames that would let hot air from outside get inside.
Another way to cut cooling costs is to use evaporative cooling to either boost the effectiveness of the air conditioning or, if your climate is right, to replace it altogether.
Evaporative or swamp coolers can provide a great deal of temperature reduction for a fraction of the cost of conventional air conditioners, because they use only a fraction of the energy to produce cold air. This is great in climates that have predominantly hot, dry air such as desert locations for example.
However, there is a downside with these coolers in that they won't work well in humid conditions. Unfortunately, much of the mainland US has humid heat during summer, but the good news is that here in Arizona, we have mostly dry heat!
So there are some great ways that you can save money on your cooling costs and actually enjoy the kind of air conditioning economy that is possible when you know what to do!