Declare Your Independence From High Energy Bills

Do your energy bills skyrocket in the summer? You’re not alone—but the good news is, there’s something you can do about it. In honor of Independence Day, here are tips you can use to free yourself from high energy bills for good.

Start with a home energy audit

A home energy audit can reveal factors throughout your home that can negatively impact cooling. Cracks and gaps in your doors and windows can let warm air into your home, even if they’re not visible to the naked eye. Older incandescent light bulbs can also contribute heat while simultaneously using more energy than newer LED or CFL bulbs.

Both APS and SRP offer both online and in-person home energy audits to homeowners throughout the Valley. In particular, APS offers a home performance checkup with a specially trained contractor who will evaluate your home according to ENERGY STAR® standards. With the help of a home energy audit, you can learn how to cool your home without raising the cost of running your air conditioner.

Set your thermostat wisely

When it comes to energy efficiency during the cooling season, you can save as much as 10% a year on your utility bills by turning your thermostat anywhere from 7-10 degrees higher than you usually set it. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following as the ideal thermostat settings to maximize cooling and energy efficiency:

  • 78 degrees when you’re home during the day
  • 85 degrees when you’re away from home
  • 82 degrees when you’re sleeping

Save more with a programmable thermostat

The average household can save around $180 a year with the help of a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home based on your schedule. For example, if you’re home in the mornings, but away at work throughout the rest of the day, you can program the thermostat to automatically increase or decrease the temperature as needed. This helps your system work more efficiently, and reduces the amount of energy you use per month.

Block out the heat by covering your windows

Your windows are a major source of what’s referred to as solar heat gain. Solar heat gain heats your home as a result of radiation produced by the sun. In fact, 76% of the sunlight that falls on your windows will enter your home and become heat.

Just about any window coverings can reduce solar heat gain and help your home stay cool and comfortable. Great options include:

Insulated cellular shades

Insulated cellular shades are easily recognized by their unique honeycomb-cross section design. These cross-sections act as insulators. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cellular shades can reduce solar heat gain by up to 80%.

Blackout curtains

Blackout curtains block out up to 99% of light, making them ideal for bedrooms. With no light coming through the windows, the rooms will stay much cooler, even during the peak temperatures of the day. If you’d still like to take advantage of natural light, you can opt for lighter “dim out” curtains.

Window blinds

Standard vertical or horizontal slat-type window blinds can be adjusted to address glare, light, and daytime heat. Try adjusting horizontal blinds upwards to reflect light onto the ceiling. A light-colored ceiling can diffuse the light and the heat, while you enjoy the natural daylight.

Change your thermostat location

If your thermostat is in an area of a room that’s very warm, it can fool your thermostat into thinking that the temperature of the room is higher than it actually is. If your thermostat is in a problematic spot, relocating it can lower your energy bills. The ideal thermostat location is:

  • Centrally located, on an interior wall of a room that your family uses often
  • Mounted at a height of 52–60 inches above the floor
  • Away from windows, doors, and skylights
  • Away from lamps, entertainment centers, and televisions
  • Not in, nor near, the kitchen
  • Comfortably distanced from air vents

You should also ensure that your thermostat is located away from spots in your home that are prone to temperature fluctuations. These include exterior walls, rarely used rooms, and walls that are near windows or doors. Temperature fluctuations can lead to incorrect readings and could lead to your air conditioner running more often than it should.

Change your filters regularly

If your filters are dirty, less air will be able to get through the rooms in your home that need to be cooled, and your air conditioner will have to work harder to compensate for the decrease in efficiency. You should clean or replace your filters every month to avoid having dust and dirt impact circulation. Disposable filters can be bought in bulk and swapped out for a new one every month, while reusable filters can easily be cleaned by vacuuming away any debris.

Consider replacing your air conditioner

Are you suddenly paying a lot more on your energy bills, with no obvious cause? Your aging air conditioner may be to blame. Older air conditioners need to work much harder to cool your home, leading to an increased use of energy that is reflected in a higher bill. Additionally, older air conditioners often have trouble cooling a home sufficiently. This can lead to you lowering the thermostat more often and increasing your energy bills.

The Department of Energy estimates that replacing your air conditioner with a newer, energy-efficient unit can save you 20 to 40% on your annual cooling costs. In a harsh desert climate like Arizona, air conditioners don’t last as long as the national average. If your air conditioner is at least 7 years old, it’s time to consider making an upgrade. You may get to the point where you’re spending more on constant repairs and part replacements than you would on a new system.

Keep your home cool and energy efficient with Chas Roberts

From repairing your current system to installing a new one, our pros are experts at keeping your home cool, comfortable, and energy efficient. Contact us for all your A/C needs.