If you have just moved to an area where air conditioning is a necessity during summer, you're no doubt discovering that finding that right balance between staying comfortable and keeping your bills low is not the easiest task in the world. The recent southwestern heat wave made it clear that you can't always try to tough it out on hot days -- sometimes it's just too hot -- but that doesn't mean you're doomed to a life of huge power bills. In addition to the conventional advice to keep blinds closed and dress appropriately, there are some little details that can make a big difference in how much you spend on those bills.
Blind Slat Rotation
This first tip may sound very obvious to people who are used to blocking light out, but if you've never really had to deal with this before -- or you're just not used to using mini-blinds -- it can be a detail that you easily miss.
If your windows have horizontal mini-blinds, rotate the slats so that light is blocked from coming in. This is different from merely rotating the blinds closed. When you rotate the slats, you have the option to rotate them so that light can still stream in a bit or so that the slats form a barrier to block incoming light. When you rotate them, the slats should be positioned so that they point down toward the outside of the house. Any sunlight hitting the windows would hit the slats and be blocked. If the slats point down toward the inside of the house, a little light can still get through, and that will heat up the inside of the room a little more. On a very hot day, that little bit can make a real difference.
Cut down on the strong-smelling foods, perfumes, and air fresheners in hot weather. If you cook something that smells very strong, for example, the smell could become intense enough to make it difficult to put up with. NBC News reports that this is a real phenomenon, especially in humid weather.
Strong smells can increase your bill or decrease your comfort in two ways. One is that you may have to open windows to get rid of the smell (for example, if you're in an older apartment that doesn't have an adequately strong range hood in the kitchen), which of course lets hot air in, heats up your place, and makes you feel worse. The other is that you could end up feeling hotter just because the smell makes the room seem stuffier and more sultry, which could lead you to set the air conditioning thermostat to a colder temperature, thus increasing your bills.
An Extra Degree or Two
Conventional wisdom places the optimal temperature for staying comfortable and conserving energy at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Consumer Reports notes that setting the thermostat another degree higher can save you 2 percent on your bill (and another degree higher saves another 2 percent, and so on). Try upping the temperature on the thermostat to 80 or 81 and see if that is still comfortable for you.
Suffer a Little
It's not really pleasant to come home to a stuffy, hot home that hasn't had the air conditioning on, but you'll save your budget a lot of grief if you can deal with those few minutes of stuffiness. Keep the air conditioner either off when you're not home, or set the thermostat very high. Lower the temperature when you get home; it will not take long for your hot house to cool down.
If you want other tips regarding small details that can really help your budget while not making you sweat a lot, contact an air conditioning repair service. Don't forget to have the air conditioner checked out each year as well; that inspection can catch problems when they're in their very early stages. Contact a business, such as Metro Air, for more information.