Don’t be Hot and Bothered: 10 Tips to Lower Your Air-Conditioning Costs

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Provided by NOVEC

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative offers 10 tips for lowering air-conditioning costs as temperatures soar.

“Electric bills rise in summer as air conditioners use more energy to cool spaces,” said Marlon Gilbert, a NOVEC energy services specialist. “NOVEC wants to help customers control costs so their electric bills won’t spike as heat and humidity increase.”

NOVEC’s 10 Cooling Tips

  1. Turn the air-conditioner thermostat up to 75-78 degrees. Run ceiling and floor fans in occupied rooms to help room occupants feel cooler. Keeping fans on in unoccupied rooms only increases electric bills. Run ceiling fans in the forward, counter-clockwise direction to force air down and provide a wind-chill effect.
  2. Use fans instead of air conditioning. If not running an air conditioner, run a whole-house or window fan upstairs with windows open on the main floor. Make sure a window fan pushes air outside instead of pulling hot air inside.
  3. Replace air-conditioner filters regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Write the installation date on the filter.
  4. Keep the area around the outdoor air-conditioner unit free of overgrown plants and anything that could hinder the unit’s efficiency.
  5. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying a window air conditioner, ceiling fan, and light bulbs. Save 6% by shopping during Virginia’s sales tax holiday Aug. 2-4.
  6. Block solar heat by closing window treatments during the day on sunny sides of the house.Layer treatments — close curtains over blinds or shades. Window awnings work best since they repel solar rays before rays reach windows.
  7. Close storm windows and lock windows when using air conditioning. If need be, apply caulk and/or weatherstripping around windows and doors to keep hot air from infiltrating inside.
  8. Close a fireplace flue damper and glass doors. Hot air rises, but some hot outdoor air can come down an open chimney and some cooled indoor air can escape up it.
  9. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs produce only 10% light and a whopping 90% heat. LED bulbs produce almost no heat, use 80% less energy than incandescents, and last much longer.
  10. Cook with a microwave oven instead of a regular oven, or grill outdoors to reduce heat in the kitchen.

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