Summer has come and you are looking to learn how to save money on air conditioning bill?
There are many ways to lower cooling costs, some cost money, and some don’t, some with immediate results, and some for the long run.
And reducing the AC cooling costs can help you keep more money to spend on other areas of life and the lives of your beloved ones.
This is why I wrote this list of ways to reduce the ac electricity bill for you, based on my knowledge and experience as an electrical engineer and Certified Energy Manager.
1 – Save on Cooling Bills with Closed Doors
Cold air will continue to move between different rooms or spaces, and thus, require the air conditioner to keep running in order to keep the temperature of the room where it is located as per the setting.
Keep the doors of the spaces you are trying to cool down closed so that the temperature will reach the desired level faster, and will maintain that level for longer period of time, and thus, requiring the AC unit to work shorter and lower the AC bill as a result.
For places with doors of frequent use such as workplaces, cafes, shops, …etc. where people keep forgetting or ignoring to close the doors behind, you may consider either using automatic door closers in the case of a hinged door.
And for sliding doors, you may install an air curtain that creates a barrier between the inside and the outside atmosphere, in order to prevent the heat from creeping in and the cool air from escaping.
Also, consider using door sweeps in order to prevent the cold air from creeping to other rooms from under the door.
2 – Lower Air Conditioning Bills with Windows
Just like it is with doors, open windows cause the cooling system to work harder and for longer time in order to get the desired temperature.
Keep the windows closed in order to keep the cool air inside as a first step.
However, the heat and the direct sunlight might increase the temperature inside the cooled space through windows, which is why you may consider using one or more of the following methods in order to further save on the air conditioning bill:
- Install awnings on the outside of the windows that get direct sunlight in order to prevent the sun rays from heating the inside air, but at the same, keep benefiting from natural light instead of using artificial lighting.
- Shut off the shutters and blinds completely for the windows in the rooms you are not using, and for the room you are trying to cool down, you can keep them slightly open just to let some light to get in if the direct sunlight hits the window.
- If the window doesn’t have a shutter or blinds, you may at least close the curtains as an alternative.
- Replace the current windows with double-glazing windows, or install storm windows outside they create an insulating layer between the outside and inside air.
- Use UV window film which can block part of the visible light from direct sun rays and the associated heat.
3 – Check The Insulation
The poor insulation between the different rooms can cause the heat from other rooms to move through walls and heat up the air in the room being cooled down.
Try to fix the insulation if you notice that one of the walls is hot compared to other walls, or use an infrared camera to inspect the entire wall and find the spots where the insulation is damaged or missing.
Don’t forget to test the insulation in the roof of the basement, or at the floor of the attic.
Also, check out for any possible air gaps in the door and window frames and fix them with proper sealing material.
4 – Run AC Economically
In addition to the changes in behavior and changes in the place you are trying to cool down, you can also save money on the cooling bill by using the air conditioner economically, through following these tips:
- Keep the temperature as high and comfortable as possible, as setting the thermostat one degree lower can cause a considerable amount of energy to be consumed. Try to keep the setting on 77°F instead of 70°F (25°C instead of 21°C).
- Use a smart thermostat: Programmable thermostats can be used to automatically turn on and off the air conditioning system at specific times and temperature levels based on the settings that you create in advance, which helps in order to prevent the overspending that comes from forgetting the AC unit on when it is unnecessary.
- Turn off the air conditioner a while before leaving as the cool air will remain for a while and you don’t need the AC unit to keep working to the last minute before you leave.
- Cool down only the used rooms. It is easy to do this with split AC units by only turning on the units in the room you want to be in. And for central AC systems, you can use zoning system in order to set different temperatures for the different areas in the place, or even turn off the zones where there’s no one.
- Correct positioning of thermostat. Placing the thermostat in a spot where there’s some source of heat such as an appliance, or a direct sunlight or focused artificial light, or even installing it too high can cause the thermostat to measure an inaccurate temperature and keep the air conditioner working when the actual temperature in the room has already went down to the desired level.
5 – Give Shade to The External AC Unit
Placing the external unit of the air conditioner (called compressor) can affect its efficiency, which is why you should try to have it installed in a place without direct sunlight in the first place, or provide some shade to it if you have already installed it where the direct sunlight hits it for long hours during summer.
6 – Clean Filters, Vents & Coils Regularly
Unclean AC filters and vents cause the air conditioner to work longer in full capacity in order to be able to provide enough volume of cooled air.
Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations and on how dusty the area is, you need to clean or replace the air filters on regular basis and clean the air vents for ducted AC units.
As a general role, try to clean the filters or replace them once every one or two months depending on how fast they get dusty.
And for the condensing and evaporation coils inside the AC units, need to be cleaned regularly once or twice every year based on how fast they get dirty, as dirty coils can significantly lower the efficiency and increase the electric AC bill.
7 – Use Fewer Lighting Units and replace them with Efficient Ones
Lighting units emit some heat into the air, which causes your cooling system to consume more electricity in order to keep the temperature low as per your settings.
Try to use natural light when available, without having the direct sun rays to get in as mentioned earlier, and when necessary, use as little lighting units as possible, and replace the existing incandescent lamps with LED lamps, which give more lighting flux and less heat, and try to avoid using spot lamps.
8 – Use Fans
Some days you don’t need the temperature to be cooled down in order to feel comfortable, and in those days, using fans, whether the ceiling fans or the free-stand movable fans, can give you the comfort you are seeking while consuming less energy at the same time.
This becomes money-saving especially when you are alone in a big room or in an open zone where the cool air keeps creeping to other areas and the thermostat never stops the AC system because the surrounding temperature never goes down to the preset value.
You can even consider using a mini-fan that can operate using a USB port.
Using fans instead of air conditioning, especially in big rooms or open spaces, can help reduce the summer electric bill.
9 – Evaporative Coolers or Dehumidifiers
When in a very dry weather, using evaporative coolers can be enough to give you the comfortable feel of cool air and at a much lower cost compared to running the air conditioner.
And in areas with high humidity, this humidity can make you feel hotter and mistakenly think that you need to keep the AC unit on a lower degree.
But the truth is that what you need to lower the humidity level in order to feel more comfortable, and to do so, you need to use set the AC unit on the dry mode, which makes it work as a dehumidifier, or you can get a separate dehumidifier if your AC unit doesn’t come with the dry mode.
10 – Plant Trees Outside
Planting trees or even plants in pots outside the windows can help in order to prevent the direct sunlight from heating up the air inside the window, while at the same time give you natural lighting instead of using the lamps that would consume energy and cause heat as explained above.
11 – Use Natural Air Draft
Hot air is light compared to cold air, which cases the hot air to always try to drift upwards if it was given the path.
If you are planning on building a new house, then you may think of installing a solar chimney, which is a system that works on extracting the air from outside, passing it through an underground pipe in order to cool it down, and then supply it to the house, and finally, extracting the hot air from inside the house through a chimney.
And if you are in a house already, then you may consider using the fireplace chimney and keep its damper open, in addition to some windows in the first floor, which will cause the hot air to flow upward through the chimney, and another fresh, cooler air to come in through windows.
Or maybe you just open some of the windows in the upper floor and some of the first floor and let the air move naturally.
12 – Use Energy Star AC Units
Energy Star certified air conditioners and cooling systems are devices that have met strict energy efficiency guidelines.
These usually give you the most possible output in cooling compared to the electric energy they consume.
If you are planning on installing new AC units anyway, then you may consider getting Energy Star certified ones right from the start in order to reduce the cooling costs.
But if you have already installed new AC units without taking that into consideration, then you may need to check with a specialist and compare the amount of savings you can make if you replace them with Energy Star ones.
You can basically do this by checking out how much power they consume to give the same amount of BTU.
You do the same calculation for both the Energy Star and the existing units, and you calculate the difference in consumption in one hour of operation.
Then you estimate how many hours you run them per day, and for how many days, and you can calculate how much you can save in a year.
Of course, you don’t need to through the existing ones away as you can sell them for a lower price than what you paid, but you may need to estimate the payback period.
13 – Spend More Time At Lower Floors
As explained earlier, the hot air naturally drifts upwards and the cool air goes down, therefore, you better spend as most of the time in the lower floor or even in the basement doing the usual daily activities.
14 – Make a Cool Roof
Cool roofs are ones that are prepared to reflect most of the direct sunlight and reduce the thermal energy that is transferred to the upper floors in a building or a house.
This helps in maintaining a cooler atmosphere in the building and thus, reducing the air cooling bill.
There are many ways of making a cool roof depending on the type of the roof.
For example, for a low-sloped roof, Single-ply membrane sheets can be installed on the roof.
For steep sloped roofs, you can install a shingle roof or a tile roof.
And for flat roofs, you can make a green roof by growing some plants on it. Or you may coat the roof with a reflective layer of proper coating material.
15 – Don’t Oversize Air Cooling Units
Choosing a unit that is bigger than what is necessary might increase the energy consumption as the big unit might not need to run at the full rated power in order to give enough cooling.
How does that matter?
Because the AC unit has the highest efficiency when it works at full capacity, because there are some energy losses that it would consume regardless if it was working at full capacity or at half capacity.
This means, that if you only need a 1-ton AC unit to cool a certain room, the unit will consume a certain amount of energy to supply these necessary losses.
But when you use a 1.5-ton AC unit for that room, then although the unit will not run on full capacity all the time, but it will consume the losses associated with the 1.5-ton unit, which are higher than the losses from a 1-ton unit.
16 – Fix Leaks in Ducts
If you have a ducted cooling system, then you may need to inspect the ducts regularly in order to see if there were any gaps or cracks that cause the cool air to leak to outside the duct before going to the space where it should go through the vents.
This causes the AC unit to work longer in order to cool down the different spaces and therefore, consume more energy.
17 – Insulate Gas Pipes
The gas pipes between the external and the external units of the air conditioning systems should be insulated properly in order to preserve the energy when being transferred between the two units.
If the insulation damaged at some point where the pipes are subject to hot air or direct sunlight, this might cause heating up the gas inside the pipes before reaching the internal unit, and therefor, not cooling the air as desired.
And that leads to causing the AC units to work longer and consume more energy.
Make it a routine to inspect the gas pipes with the other points mentioned above related to regular maintenance in order to save money on the air conditioning bill.
18 – Cook Outside
Cooking is one of the activities that produce heat and keep it inside the house, leading to the need of operating air conditioning devices in order to cool down the air.
You can eliminate this problem by preparing food, whenever possible, outside the house using either the grill, or using a solar cooker like the GoSun Fusion, GoSun Sport, the Sunflair solar oven, or the All American sun oven.
19 – Use Appliances Less (Or Shift to Night)
Almost all electrical appliances produce heat when they are turned on, and that causes the temperature to rise inside the room or space where they are being used.
You may consider trying to use these appliances less often, like using the dishwasher once with full load instead of twice with half a load.
And you may consider dry the laundry, cutlery and dishes naturally instead of using forced drying which consumes energy and creates heat that would require the air conditioning system to run longer in order to keep a comfortable temperature.
This way, not only that you save on the AC bill, but you also minimize the electricity consumption in general and lower the electric bill with other appliances.
And for stuff that are not urgent, you may consider operating appliances at the evening when it is cool and you don’t need to turn on the air conditioning system in the first place.
20 – Turn Off The AC at Night
At the end of most of the summer days, even the hot ones, the temperature goes down to a comfortable level, where you no longer need to keep the AC unit on.
Consider turning off the AC units once the outside temperature starts to go lower, and either keep the windows closed in order to maintain the currently cool air inside, and if you feel that it is getting uncomfortable, then you may open the windows and allow for the air to move and it might give you a comfortable feeling without the need to turn on the AC again.
Lowering the number of hours in which you operate the air conditioning system can significantly reduce your AC bill.
21 – Use The Exhaust Fans for the Bathroom and Kitchen
Cooking and showering result in heat that moves easily inside the kitchen and the bathroom, and transfers to other rooms when allowed.
Try to use the exhaust fans or open the windows when available in order to let the heat go outside directly instead of accumulating and going to other spaces where you would need to use the air conditioner system to run in order to bring down the temperature to a low level again.
This appears especially helpful in saving money on air conditioning in apartments where the kitchen is open to the rest of the apartment.
22 – Solar Air Conditioner
There are some air conditioners that can work on solar energy, which can significantly help lower the electric AC bill.
Some of these types are hybrid, meaning that they can work on both, solar energy, and the utility electric energy when it is at night or when there’s no sufficient light during the day, and these can work without a battery.
This way, you could significantly reduce the electric consumption of your air conditioner.
And some types are 100% off-grid, as they come with a storage battery that can store energy during the morning hours when you don’t nee to operate the AC unit yet, and energize the air conditioner when you need it to work at full capacity.
Freehold offers both types of solar air conditioners, hybrid and off-grid.
23 – Install Solar Panels or Wind Turbines
Instead of installing solar AC units in order to reduce the cooling costs alone, you may consider installing a renewable energy system like a complete solar panel system or a small wind turbine in order to supply electricity for all of the loads you have and help lower the electric bill overall.
Many utility companies allow you to connect this system to your meter, and when your system generates more electricity than what you need, you sell the excess to the utility company, and when you need more than what the system generates, you buy from the company, and the meter records both ways.
And at the end of each month, the company will see how much was the difference, and will charge you only for the part that you have withdrawn more than what you have give the company.
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Conclusion – The Best Way to Lower The AC Bill?
There’s no best way to reduce the AC cooling bill as all the methods mentioned above work well.
You may pick the ones that apply to the place where you want to reduce the cooling costs, and you may go first with the ones that are related to your behavior as these don’t cost you a thing to do.
And you may go with the methods that require a very low investment such as installing an auto door closer or a window film.
And after that, you might go with the other methods that require a bigger investment, but they could pay back for themselves in the following months such as replacing old units with energy star ones, or using solar energy in order to cool down the air.
I hope that my list of 23 ways to save money on air conditioning bill was useful and insightful for you.
If you have a question about any of the methods, or if you need help in deciding what to do in your specific case, please, ask me in the comments section below and I will do my best in order to help you out ASAP