How to Reduce the Cost of Running Central Air

How to Reduce the Cost of Running Central Air

Small changes can net big savings in your electric bill

By Cathy McClellan

Ceiling Fan
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To cut air conditioning costs, use simple maintenance techniques such as changing filters, replacing weatherstripping and caulking to keep cool air in and hot air out this summer. Change the settings on your thermostat and minimize your use of the oven and stove, and you'll further trim your electric bill.

  • What You Need to Know
  • You'll need repalcement filters, caulk and weather stripping.

Step 1:

Adjust the thermostat to at least 78 degrees or as high as comfortably possible. The higher you set the thermostat, the more savings you will see on your electric bill.

Step 2:

Use ceiling fans or box fans to circulate the air. You will feel just as comfortable at the higher setting when you have a ceiling fan circulating the air. The ceiling fan will make the room feel 3 to 4 degrees cooler. Only operate ceiling fans in rooms where someone is present. Turn the fans off when you leave the room. Shut all the doors, windows and vents to rooms not being used to divert the central air when it is on.

Step 3:

Leave the thermostat in the auto position. This will only allow the air conditioner to run until it reaches a setting and saves electricity as well. Whatever temperature you do set it on be sure to pre-program your thermostat so that it only kicks in when your room is above this temperature.

Step 4:

Keep all doors and windows closed while operating the air conditioner. Use shades, blinds or drapes to keep the heat from the sun outdoors. Use awnings on the outside of windows. Trees and trellises with growing vines also provide lots of shade in the summer.

Step 5:

Check the filter monthly and replace it if it is dirty. Purchase the correct size of filter, which is listed on your unit. Do not block return air grills with furniture or other items. The return air is what cools the room, and the air conditioner will not run smoothly if return air grills are blocked.

Step 6:

Do not use your stove or oven, which add lots of heat to the environment. Use the microwave and small counter top appliances instead.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Try setting the thermostat to a higher temperature several times to find the highest setting that you can comfortably tolerate. You may find that you can set the thermostat to more than 80 degrees and still stay comfortable.
  • Inspect all windows and doors to ensure they are sealed. Inspect and replace caulking.
  • Consult an air-conditioning technician if the unit is old and you think it is not working properly or if your unit is making unusual noises. If the air-conditioning unit is not working properly, it will increase electrical costs as it works harder to cool your home.

About the Author

Cathy McClellan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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