Here in Arizona, energy bills are a significant portion of your monthly expenses. That’s just the name of the game when you live in a desert with incredible temperatures for half the year. But you shouldn’t just accept a high bill! There are always things you can do to bring your energy use, and therefore bill, down. This time on the ACE Home Services blog, money saving hacks to keep your home cool and your bills low!
Cooling (and heating) costs are our home’s most expensive systems, averaging up to almost 50% of all utility budgets according to the U.S Dept of Energy. That’s just an average and you know just from your own bill it’s even higher here in Phoenix. It’s more than just not using your air conditioner when you can. During these summer months that’s almost impossible! So to beat that you need to think outside the box.
Electronics and Lights
Let’s start with other big energy consumers. Electronics like computers, TVs, appliances, and lights. These days we are surrounded by electronic devices. Within reach there’s probably at least three of you right now! Thankfully, many appliances are made to stricter energy usage standards but there’s still more that can be done. It boils down to two things: turn off and unplug. When you’re not in a room, turn the lights off. Every little bit helps! When it comes to electronics they all keep a minimum draw of power so they’re ready for you when you need them. But we can live with a few seconds extra of set up right? When you’re done using your tv or fan unplug it til next time. Some lights and appliances also can put off a ton of heat (remember those old plasma big screens?) so managing their use will also keep your home’s temperature in check. Speaking of…
Ceiling Fan Specifics
Fans work by moving air and dispersing pockets of heat. This helps push the hot air from around you and allow you to feel cooler. But if the fan is blowing in the wrong direction you’ll find that the heat just gets worse! Take a look at your fan and it’s blade, see how they’re angled? Depending on which way they spin, clockwise or counter clockwise, air is either pushed down from the fan or pulled from below into the ceiling. If it’s pulling the air from around you that air pushes into the ceiling and the hot air that sits at the top of the room (remember hot air rises) is pushed back down to the ground. That’s no good! Make sure your fan is operating in the right direction to keep you feeling cool. The cooler you feel, the less you’ll need to rely on your A/C to do the heavy lifting.
How do you know your fan is working the right way? Go stand under it and look up. The blades should be spinning counter clockwise, and you should feel air hitting you directly. Not sure? Turn the fan off and reach up to the switch by the blades to move the fan in the opposite direction. How about now?
What About Windows?
Windows are potential for huge inefficiencies in insulation. Some windows have such low R-value (an industry measurement of thermal resistance) that the outside heat just punches right through and warms your interiors. There are a few things you can do to help slow that transfer of heat.
- Keep Windows Closed During the Day
- Move Houseplants in Front of Windows
- Install Cellular Shades, Solar Screens, or Window Film
Any of these can help block excess heat from warming your rooms and giving your A/C a tougher job.
Have a greenthumb? You can put that talent to use by planning out a heat fighting garden layout! Planting shrugs, bushes, or trees outside in front of your windows can do a huge amount to shading your windows, preventing them from getting blasted by the sun’s heat. Window awnings could do the same trick if you’re less horticulturally inclined.
Anybody who has spent time in front of the oven knows it warms up your kitchen like crazy! Change up your regular summer diet to a lighter fare that doesn’t require heating on the stove or in the oven. Salads, sandwiches, and sweet tea can be a delightfully refreshing meal and won’t send you sweating.
Hey, we haven’t forgotten about the A/C itself. If your air conditioner is running efficiently that means it’s using a little energy to do a whole lot of work. The easiest thing you can do right now to boost your unit’s efficiency is to check the filter. How dirty is it? Covered in dust and hair? That makes your A/C have to work so much harder to cool your home, the harder it works, the more energy it uses, the more energy it uses the higher your bill.
To ensure your A/C is still operating great, make sure you schedule annual tune- ups to spot and fix potential problems before they become disasters. There’s plenty more you can do. Find out more A/C efficiency tips on our blog.
Is Your A/C Unit Good?
Buying a whole new air conditioner isn’t any fun, for sure, but if your unit is old or constantly breaking down it might be time to look for a new one. New models are leaps and bounds more energy efficient than older units saving you money over their lifespan. You can drastically cut cooling costs by investing in a newer unit with a better SEER rating. See if you have an energy efficient air conditioner and set yourself up for success!
Use these hacks and see your energy bill lower, and your comfort increase! We’re not through the summer just yet, there’s still time to implement these hacks and enjoy a cooler, more comfortable summer in doors. Need help? Think your unit is in need of a tune-up? Schedule your service today! No matter where in The Valley you are, ACE Home Services is just a phone call away!