How to Keep Your Home Cool and Lower Your AC Bill

Scared to look at your air conditioning bill this summer? There’s good news: it’s possible to keep your home cool and comfortable and still save money in the process. Here are eight tips you can use to keep your home cool without raising your A/C bill in the summer months.

1.     Start with a home energy audit

A home energy audit can reveal factors throughout your home that can negatively impact cooling. It’s a good first step towards lower A/C bills. Things like 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.

2.     Set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise

Ceiling fans quickly circulate air, creating a wind-chill like effect that helps cool you off. A ceiling fan can help you feel cooler without actually lowering the room’s temperature—meaning you can set your thermostat higher and not actually feel warmer. If you look up at your ceiling fan, it should be turning counterclockwise. This allows the fan to pull cool air from the ground and blow it back down to you.

Make sure and turn your ceiling fans off before you leave the room, since without anyone in the room, the fans won’t have the same cooling effect. Leaving them on only wastes energy.

3.     Switch your air conditioner fan from “on” to “auto”

The fan setting on your thermostat controllers the blower. This internal fan helps distribute air throughout your home. The two most common fan settings are “auto” and “on”. When the fan is set to “auto”, it turns on only when the system is cooling the air. When the set temperature is reached, it turns off. When the fan is set to “on”, it runs continuously, even when the system has completed its cooling cycle.

“Auto” is the more cost-effective option. It uses less energy, because the fan isn’t running all the time. In contrast, “On” uses more energy, leading to higher energy bills. So, it’s best to set your air conditioner fan to “auto” to avoid paying extra.

4.     Set an energy efficient temperature

Running your air conditioner at a higher temperature can help save you money. 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

Turning your air thermostat up 7-10 degrees while you’re out of the house can help you save as much as 10% on your annual cooling costs. Higher indoor temperatures help slow the flow of heat into your home. With less heat to address, your air conditioner will use less energy as a result.

5.     Keep your filters clean

Imagine trying to blow air through a closed door. That’s equivalent to what your air conditioner encounters when your filters are extremely dirty. Dirty air filters reduce energy efficiency, and keep cool air from entering your home. They also cause your air conditioner to run longer, increasing wear and tear on vital components.

Changing your filters consistently keeps them from getting blocked with dust, dirt, and debris. We recommend that you change your filters every 3 months, unless someone in  your home has allergies, in which case you should change your filters monthly.

6.     Cover 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.

Outdoor window shades and screens

Outdoor shades and screens can protect your home from ultraviolet radiation, while also reducing glare and dust. In particular, solar screens are specifically designed to reduce harmful glare and heat transfer through the windows in your home. Solar screens don’t block your view from the inside, allowing you to enjoy the same great views without the side effects of heat and solar radiation.

7.     Make sure your thermostat is in the right place

Your thermostat should be on an interior wall, away from areas that are prone to temperature extremes. These include drafty doors, windows that let in hot sunlight, kitchen appliances that give off heat, and more. Even lamps and electronics like televisions can give off heat and skew your thermostat’s temperature reading.

If you have a smart thermostat, make sure its sensors aren’t obstructed by doors, furniture, or other obstacles. You should also ensure that it’s in good range of your Wifi so it can stay connected at all times.

8.     Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home based on your schedule. These thermostats can drastically reduce the amount of energy you use per month. According to the EPA, homeowners can save around $180 a year by using a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat ensures that your home will always be at a comfortable temperature. For example, if you normally return home from work around 6pm, you can program your thermostat to lower the temperature in advance so it’s nice and cool when you arrive.

A cool summer starts with Chas Roberts

There’s no need to face the sweltering Arizona summers alone. Whether you need help diagnosing a problem, or you’re facing a sudden emergency breakdown, our experts are here to help. Contact us and let us do our part to keep the summer cool.