10 Cool Tips to Beat the Heat and Lower Summer Costs

The dog days of summer have officially arrived, so now is the time to stay out of the heat and ensure the air conditioning system runs efficiently throughout the cooling season. Keeping the energy bill down and air conditioner running effectively can be accomplished with a little planning and maintenance.

“The last thing you want to happen during the hot summer months is to have problems with your air conditioning,” said Doyle James, president of Aire Serv LLC. “Periodic maintenance lessens the chance of the AC unit breaking down or malfunctioning, but you can also maximize the cooling potential of your air conditioner by changing a few habits at home and using the equipment properly.”

Aire Serv offers these simple tips to maximize your air conditioner unit:

  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade the AC unit, but make sure to allow at least two feet around the unit and keep the top of the unit free from all growth.
  • Postpone chores like dishwashing, cooking and laundry until the evening.
  • Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Keep the house closed tight during the day and consider effectively caulking or weather stripping to ensure cool air doesn’t seep right out the window.
  • Check the filters monthly and replace as necessary.
  • Use the ceiling fan only when in the room. Running the fan doesn’t lower the temperature, but it does increase evaporation from your skin to help you feel cooler.
  • A dirty condenser (AC outside unit) should be cleaned by a professional technician to allow greater air flow and distribution across the coil. A service technician will also oil the motors and check the refrigerant charge and electrical components for safety hazards. A system tune-up also promotes less energy usage and greater indoor air quality.
  • Don’t place lamps or heat-generating appliances near the thermostat. The thermostat will not be able to accurately determine the room temperature and may not run as efficiently as possible.

Homeowners can also save money by…

  • Installing a programmable thermostat. This “smart thermostat” can turn on the air conditioner to the desired set point one hour before you arrive home, avoiding the need to run the system all day.
  • Setting your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. Adjusting the temperature just a few degrees can cut the cooling bill by up to 10 percent.
  • If the air conditioner is outdated, you’ll save money by upgrading. Shop for size, use Energy Star guidelines or always have your AC contractor perform a cooling load calculation. An improperly sized unit can burn energy and raise your energy bills.