Category Archives: Heating and Cooling Tips

How to Reduce Air-Conditioning Costs With These Money-Saving Tips


There are ways that you can reduce your electric bills quite significantly if you have central air conditioning or a window unit. This article will attempt to show how to reduce air-conditioning costs, even in very warm climates during the summer months.

Consider the size of the room and base your air conditioning on that when buying a unit as more does not mean better in every case. Other factors to consider are in respect of what will affect the room temperature such as number of windows, direction it faces etc. If you buy a unit that is too large for the room, it will need to work much harder and end up costing you more money.

When in the market for a central air conditioning system, always check that the SEER number (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is above thirteen (fourteen for warmer climates). Less efficient systems’ running costs will be more and so for room air conditioners, look for an energy efficiency ratio of eleven or above. High efficiency units will cost you more on the initial purchase but, particularly if you live in a hot climate, the extra cost will more than be recovered over a few years from lower electricity bills.

Make sure that you maintain your air conditioning unit and regularly check and replace the filter (every month) during the cooling season and have it professionally serviced every year at the start of the cooling season..

Cooling systems are renowned for being the largest consumers of energy in the home. Depending on your location, it will probably only be outdone in the energy sapping stakes by your heating system. If your system is aged with a SEER rating below eight, it may be worth consideration to replace it with a more energy efficient system.

You may also want to consider installing a thermostat that you can program in order to vary the temperature according to the times when you are actually at home. A setting around seventy eight degrees Fahrenheit is okay for when you are present. If you are away from your home for more than a few hours, it may be apt to set the temperature higher (around eighty five degrees) for the time that you are away.

The location of your condenser is another important consideration. Make sure that it is in the shade and has enough room to dispose of the hot air that it removes from your home. Do not place shrubs or plants around it – enable it to breathe. You can, however, plant shade trees and plants around the house to assist in reducing the heat from the sun, particularly on western and southern sides to your home. This could result in a reduction of up to thirty per cent on your cooling costs.

Close all curtains and blinds on the sunniest side of your house to prevent the heat coming into your home and wherever possible, install awnings on the windows. Sealing any air leaks in your home will reduce costs of your air conditioning as well as your heating costs and remember to check that all seals around drying vents, plumbing are closed. Fill in any gaps that there may be around places like chimneys and weather tape any doors or windows that cause drafts.

You may wish to consider putting in ceiling fans into rooms and running them on hot days. If it is too warm for you, use the fan without air conditioning but if t is hot enough for it, using both together will allow the temperature to rise by five degrees, therefore reducing costs. Only use ceiling fans when you are in the room as running it alone doe not actually lower temperatures – it is the movement of air increasing skin evaporation that causes coolness.

The colour of the exterior of your home will also make a difference. The darker it is, the more heat it will take in so bear this in mind when building, repainting, buying property in the future. Choose light colours for the outside of your home.

Did you know that thirty per cent of heat in homes is absorbed through the roof? Ensure that any attics are ventilated sufficiently. Vents in the eaves will allow for cooler air to enter. A ridge vent or even an attic fan can reduce cooling costs significantly.

Any heat that is generated within the home will need to be removed by your system of cooling so avoid it whenever you can. Try grilling or barbecuing food outdoors or if you have to cook inside use the microwave or a crock-pot.

Following just some of these tips on how to reduce air conditioning costs will help your wallet and also make your life that little more comfortable during those long summer seasons.

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Tips for Cutting down on Heating Expenses

• Turning down the thermostat even a few degrees helps a lot.

• Moist air feels warmer. Make sure you maintain adequate humidity during the more dry winter months. Open the dishwasher to dry dishes and release steam and hanging clothes to dry will not only cut down on your electric bill but also add humidity.

• Wash laundry in cold water only. This is very cost effective and most clothes wash just fine in cold water only.

• Do you have naturally warm areas in your home? Make them work for you. My warm rooms are the kitchen and the furnace room. I keep the furnace room door open with a small fan blowing out into my family room. The heat gleaned just from that is enough to keep the family room warm. When I do a big baking day, I also run a fan that blow the warm air out into the remainder of the home.

• On a good blustery day, get down on your hands and knees and feel around. A stick of burning incense helps to find drafty areas, but even just feeling for cold areas with your hands will help. Cutting down on those drafts will go a long way in cutting down on your heating bill! A trip to the local hardware store will help you find a bevy of cost cutting products, but simple, inexpensive things like homemade draft dodgers, towels, and window quilts will be effective as well.

• Turn down your hot water.

• Do you have a fireplace? Most people don’t realize that modern fireplaces with deeper fire boxes, are not effective heat sources and the reality is, they suck air from your home. You actually LOSE heat when you run your fire place unless you have fireplace doors that you keep closed (basically going just for the ambience) or you can close off that room and minimize the flue draft. If you really want your fireplace to work for you, consider fireplace inserts, inset stoves and that sort of thing.

• Put on an extra layer of clothes if you’re always cold. Adding a layer on top such as a sweater or sweatshirt OR a layer underneath, like silk long underwear help a lot.

• Wear a hat to bed. The human body loses a huge amount of heat through the top of the head. Keep your head warm and you’ll be warmer. If you’re a bit chilled crawling into bed, make a microwave cozie to warm it up first!

• Keep a lap quilt for those times when you’re sitting down and reading a good book and getting cold versus turning up the heat. Sticking that microwave cozie under the quilt with you is pretty nice, too.

• Consider major home improvements. We have our garage under one end of our home and that end of the house was always cold. The old wooden doors had almost no insulation value (R-value), let in snow and cold air from underneath and barely kept the garage above freezing. We invested about $1800 to have modern, well insulated doors installed and the results were amazing! The average garage temp is now about 45 degrees, that end of the house is much warmer and we have averaged about $400 LESS in heating expenses per year. Major things like new windows and doors can be a bit more costly and take more planning and saving, but will be worth it in the long run.

Tammy Paquin is the owner and publisher of frugal-families.com.  You can reprint this article with an active link back to Frugal-Families.com