Our newest column to LJ Investment Research, Money, Men & Mommies by Jessica Coffey, combines our three favorite loves; money, men and being a mom. Ask any group of women what they talk about most often and you’ll hear one of these three answers. Each month you can expect to read about the financial escapades women go through and get tips on how to best solve them. You’ll find out how to pay less, love more and enjoy life! Hope you enjoy our newest addition…
Reduce AC Bills This Summer
Global Warming? The debate rages on. But researchers have confirmed that 2012 has logged the hottest temperatures in the U.S. since they started keeping track way back in 1895.
Two weeks ago I was in Cleveland, Ohio visiting my brother and his family. Temperatures there reached into the 90′s, highly unusual for a city whose normal summer temperatures usually top out in the mid 80′s.
Down here in Florida summer’s flames have fanned out across the state. Temperatures here consistently reach into the mid 90′s every day (we’ve actually been a bit lucky here, staying cooler than the rest of nation during the last two weeks). But I know that just because the temperature outside is rising doesn’t mean my electricity bill needs to rise with it!
Living in an area of the world that experiences 90 degree days on a regular basis June through October has forced me to pick up a trick or two to keep my bills as low as possible.
One of the first things my husband and I did when we bought our current house was to plant shade trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of our house. In the summer their leaves shade our house, reducing the amount of direct sunlight hitting our home. Direct sunlight heats up your home very quickly, causing your AC unit to kick on more than it should.
While researching this article I was fascinated to learn that a home’s exterior paint color can also inflate your air conditioning bills. Most homeowners never consider the energy efficiency of the color of their homes. Light paint colors reflect sunlight which helps to keep homes cool and reduces air conditioning costs.
Darker paint colors can actually INCREASE homeowners cooling bills in the summer by as much as 20 percent according to Insuladd.com. Darker paint colors absorb more heat, that’s why homes in warmer climates are more often painted in lighter, reflective tones. Maybe that’s why there are so many beige houses down here?
On the inside of our house we try to keep the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher at all times. Each degree below 78 will increase the amount of energy your home uses by 3-4%.
It’s a myth that leaving the AC on while you’re away at work uses less energy than turning it on only when you get home. The fact that your AC unit has to work harder to cool your home after you’ve been gone for several hours does not cost more than if you left it running all day. Actually the opposite is true! Program your thermostat to allow higher daytime temperatures while you’re not there, according to Energy Star this could reduce the average household’s electric bill by as much as $180 a year!
It’s also prudent to close registers and doors to rooms when not in use. This will reduce the amount of space your AC unit is working to cool. Shut the registers in your formal living room, spare bedrooms and office that only get used from time to time. There is no need to cool your entire house when you’re only using part of it!
You can also reduce your cooling costs by using ceiling or floor fans. The energy used by a fan is far less than that of an air conditioning unit. Fans usually cost less than a penny to run an hour. Fans can make you feel three to eight degrees cooler allowing you to keep your air conditioning usage to a minimum.
If you’re using a ceiling fan make sure it’s blowing air down rather than up. This will help move warmer air away from your body. There should be a small, unlabeled switch on the side of the fan that controls the air flow. On most ceiling fans a counter-clockwise rotation blows air down and clockwise blows air up. Check by standing directly underneath the fan, if you can feel the fan’s air hitting you hard, then it’s blowing down.
And although somewhat unsightly, window mounted air conditioning units are cheaper to run than central AC units. Just be sure to set it up in a window that is out of direct sunlight!
My favorite way to reduce my cooling costs is to skip the household chores! My husband never believes me when I tell him that I can’t do the laundry or cook for him during the day every summer. But appliances like the clothes dryer, oven, and dishwasher produce heat and make your AC unit have to work that much harder to cool down your home in the summer months. June through October I do my baking in the early morning, my household chores in the evening and cook out on the grill as often as possible to reduce the amount of heat my home generates.
Beating the heat this summer doesn’t have to be an expensive task. Reducing your electric bill with a few tricks like these can really add up in personal savings!
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