Caitlin Cosper / August 2nd, 2016

Keep your air conditioner functioning efficiently.

[Butsaya]/Shutterstock

 

During these dog days of summer, as we anticipate the brisk fall right around the corner, it can be hard to remember that we should try to save energy every single day. After all, what harm can it do to turn down the air conditioner a few degrees? Well, air conditioning is the biggest expense on your summer energy bills, so it can do quite a lot of harm to lower the thermostat too much. Try these easy tips to keep cool and prevent yourself from sweating every time you open your energy bill.

Install a programmable thermostat

This type of thermostat will allow you to program the temperature higher during the day while you’re out and lower, to a more comfortable setting, just before you come home for the evening. Most programmable thermostats offer several settings, so you can have a different one for the weekend or even different days of the week.

Check for leaks around your windows

If your window rattles, it’s probably not sealed properly. A trick to find out is to close the window on a piece of paper. If you can easily pull it out, the seal isn’t tight enough. Use silicon sealant around the windows to make sure cold air stops leaking through these openings.

Close the doors

Much like windows, your AC can easily escape through poorly sealed doors. With kids and pets going in and out all day, make sure your doors are actually shut all the way. This goes for pet doors as well.

Make dinner outside

Cooking heats up the kitchen, making the air conditioner work harder to bring the temperature back down. Use your outdoor grill to cook dinner instead. Even better, heat the grill once and cook enough food for several meals. Then you can use the leftovers in cold dinners or simply heat them up in the microwave.

Use alternative appliances

Depending on the food, you may be able to use your toaster, toaster oven or microwave instead of your oven – all of which will keep your kitchen cooler.

Switch to LED or CFL bulbs

Ninety percent of incandescent light bulbs’ energy is heat, not light. Changing your bulbs to more energy-efficient ones will save energy on lighting as well as on your air conditioning expenses.

Use fans

Either a ceiling or floor fan allows you to turn down your air conditioner a few degrees and still stay comfortable. Just remember to turn off the fan when you leave the room. The breeze created by fans cools your skin, not the room, so it’s a waste of energy to keep the fans on when you’re not there.

Run your dishwasher at night

The dishwasher creates heat that warms up the house. By running it at night – before you go to bed or on a timer – when it’s cooler in the house, your air conditioner won’t have to work overtime.

Turn off unnecessary appliances

Many electronics and appliances create heat when they’re on, such as computers or televisions. Instead of leaving the TV on for background noise, for example, turn it off so it doesn’t make the room hotter.

Keep the TV away from the thermostat

Because the television generates heat, be sure to position it away from the thermostat. You may unwittingly cause the air conditioner to turn on when it’s not necessary because the thermostat thinks the house it warmer than it really is.

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