Some parts of the country don't require air conditioning or only use it sporadically on the hottest summer days. But in some parts of the South, Southwest, and West coast, air conditioning is an absolute necessity. It may even be a medical necessity as the human body has a difficult time functioning in extreme heat, especially if there are medical issues to begin with. Just as heating throughout winter is expensive in the northern regions of the United States, the electric bills can be outrageous in areas where air conditioning is required for much of the year. Here are four ways you can help cut your costs cooling your home.
Dress Your Windows
Leaving your windows uncovered or with only sheers will allow the sun to stream in, essentially turning your home into a greenhouse powered by solar energy. It's nice to have the sunshine, but not when it makes your air conditioning and your electric meter work overtime. If you have blinds or draperies, keep them closed. Use dark, heavy drapes. You can even get blackout curtains. While most people reserve these sun-blocking curtains for late sleepers in the bedroom, in homes that have a lot of southern or western exposure, these curtains can help dramatically reduce the solar effect. Turning on a lamp uses less electricity than the air conditioner does.
Seal Unused Rooms
Empty-nesters in particular frequently have rooms they rarely use. There's no sense in paying to cool rooms that aren't going to be used anyway. This also applies to heating a room. Simply close any vents that may be in the room and then close the door. If you don't need anything in the room, you can even seal it with plastic to keep all air flow out for the season.
Switch Your Fans
Most ceiling fans have a switch on them that dictates which way they turn. During hot months, the fan blades need to be turning counter-clockwise, and keep them on the highest speed. This will create a breeze that will cool your skin. Reverse the blades and set to the lowest speed in winter.
Sleep In A Different Room
Heat rises, and even with the air conditioning running full blast, if your bedrooms are upstairs, you're probably going to still be too warm. If you have an unused spare room or guest room on the lower level, or a suitable room in the basement, sleep there instead.
Make sure you are changing your filters as often as you are supposed to, get air conditioning services at the start of each cooling season by an HVAC professional, and have them correct any problems they might find.