Skip to main content

Corbis Images

Now that's summer's in full effect, it's time for the next installment in our Energy Savings series, courtesy of our friends at Green Home Guide. This week it's all air conditioners, all the time.


Everyone knows that once the first heat wave hits, energy bills skyrocket -- especially when you're a fan of air conditioning. Your air conditioning system accounts for the bulk of your home's overall energy use in the summer.

Luckily, the U.S. Green Building Council clued us in to several ways we can save energy -- and money -- by using our air conditioners conscientiously.

1. Give Your Thermostat the Time of Day

Programming your thermostat to pump less cool air during the moonlight hours -- even a few degrees less -- can make big a difference. Here are suggested settings for various times through a 24-hour period:

• 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 75 degrees
• 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 80 degrees
• 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. = 75 degrees
• 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 80 degrees

thermostatGetty Images

2. Kick It Up a Notch
78 degrees Fahrenheit is a common indoor temperature for a typical household. If you want to save a significant amount of money, set your thermostat one degree higher. Now set it another degree higher. The only place you'll feel a big difference is in your wallet. For every degree above 78, you'll save 5 to 8 percent on cooling costs. If you just want a comfortable home, and don't need an overly cool one, try raising it to 85 degrees; you'll save 35 to 55 percent.

3. Don't Cool the Home for No One
If you're going out for a few hours, set the thermostat to 85 or 90 degrees. When you get home and reset it, the house will take only about 15 minutes to resume its normal, comfy-cool temperature. The system will consume less energy during this quick, 15-minute cool-down period than if you had left it running at 78 the whole time.

4. Change the Filter
A filter caked with dirt significantly impedes the function of your air conditioner, causing it to pump more air to cool your home. Change the filter several times a year -- especially in the beginning of the cooling and heating seasons. Here's how to change the filter in your HVAC system.

See? Being energy smart is easier than it sounds.

** Got any energy-saving tips to share? Let us know in the comments below! **



This information is courtesy of the U.S. Green Building Council. For more tips on saving energy and greening your home, visit USGBC's Green Home Guide.



  • Chuck

    Use a fan, too. It will magnify the cooling effect of an air conditioning system - for a fraction of the cost.

    Reply
  • Heather

    Good tips - these might help on my electric bill. Http://www.homeremediesguide.info


  • joe coss

    If you leave your house during the day and set the thermostat to 80 degrees , when you return a few hours later and re adjust your temp to75. Your compressor has to work harder and then your bill sky rockets. Leave the temp to 78 not higher. I grew up in Miami and plus my parents owned an Airconditioning Refrigeration Business so I know the "score"


  • Tired of Spammers

    When is ayoell going to actually get in there and remove posts by these spammers? Each of these people open an account for one day, close it then open a new one the next day, meanwhile, we have to put up with their BS. Ayoell tells us they will do something about it, but the posts remain for days or weeks.......

    Oh, and who passed this author from sixth grade English class..........

    3. Don't Cool the Home for No One

    Should have been phrased better than this


  • Jerry

    but the health experts tell us 68F is the best for a good nights rest!!! What's a person to do?

    Reply
  • Rick

    68 degrees is for the winter. If you want your home at 68 in the summer, you will have to get a second job!


  • Ellen

    Because I am peri-menopausal, I can't handle the AC being above 70. I use fans too. I dread my next electric bill as this is one VERY hot summer. :(


  • Jesse

    Jerry,

    No one gives a rat's ass about what your health expert is telling you.


  • Barbie

    I hate sleeping when it's too hot! I have 3 zones and I turn one down at night where the master bedroom is! Sleeping is so much nicer in the winter.


  • starr

    t your not using and you will save!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Woody

    Most drugs/prescriptions have a recommended maximum temperature printed on the label, box or instructions that is usually 77 or 78. I don't know how quickly the drugs will be harmed in in 80 degreee temperatures. I try to be safe with a 76 degree setting and that allows for variable room temperatures which I can't control.


  • Arene

    I barely use my a/c. But I have the good fortune to have a hubby who is very talented in the do-it-yourself department. We ordered a whole bunch of Pella Designer Series windows which have triple glass and the mini blinds sandwiched in between the glass. My husband did the installation himself which saved a bundle. He has also insulated the attic and put an attic fan up there which blows the heat out the vents so the house won't stay hot into the late evening. As the temp begins to rise during the day, I start closing blinds and curtains as well as using the five celing fans we have. The first day of the heat wave I didn't have to turn on the a/c until 5:00 in the afternoon and then it was only because it was muggy, not because the temperature was high. I let it run for only an hour. Yes, the windows were expensive. However, it increased the value of the house (not that we're planning to sell). And also you have to consider your own comfort especially when you get old. We are both in our early seventies and I simply cannot handle the heat as I did when I was a spring chicken. At night the a/c goes off and we open all the windows (only the ones protected with wrought iron - don't want any uninvited guests in the middle of the night). We always get a nice breeze at night coming from the west which cools the house down considerably and makes it comfortable to sleep. Do what you can to your home to make it more comfortable. Your body will love you for it.

    Reply
  • DylansMom

    Arene- and what state do you live in?? Your expensive windows, five fans, and attic fans may help you in say.. the far North East of America in the summer, but not here in Florida. It only cools down for 4 months out of the year here. In most states people consider October to be fall, but we still have days in October where it's 80 and humid. Fancy windows and all the fans in the World won't help cool your home down to where it's livable in the FL summers.


  • IdontBITEtheCAPITALISTSbait

    I appreciate your comments Arlene.
    I can only add that I have recently discovered , quite by happenstance, that window coverings on the OUTSIDE of windows work soooo much better at keeping heat from the sun out of your house than any, trendy, expensive, double-paned window with blinds inside the panes. When you prevent the light from passing through ANY glass, the heat it causes doesn't get trapped inside your home OR between the panes. The windows with the blinds incased are a step up from closing out the light with tradition blinds and curtains on the inside, but they still allow the sun in throught one pane of glass, causing it to heat up in the center (and this of course, causes them to deteriorate as well).
    The total irony here , is that blocking the sun from entering ANY glass pane was done over 100 years ago with functional shutters that hinge and close on the outside of a window!

    .......all of which goes to prove (quite literally) that there's nothing new under the sun.


  • Linda

    Setting your A/C for 80 degrees from 9 - 5 is only appropriate if you are NOT in the house during those hours. If you have a home office, as I do, that does not work. So, in printing instructions for people, "one size does not fit all". And I resonate with the person who wrote about sleeping better in a cool temperature. One of the major contributors to insomnia is an overly warm room. I feel that we each have to assess the coolness needs of the household based on individual patterns, which include health and wellness. I resign myself to having a much higher electric bill during the hot months (I live in the Washington, DC suburbs!), so I cut down on other expenses during those months. I also make up for it a bit in the cool months, as I keep the house quite cool. It balances out. Of course, if there is an area-wide problem with the grid, I do what I can to participate in energy-saving during those times.

    Reply
  • taxocrat

    Remember the enviroweenies want us to either freeze or roast in the dark. Watch out for the stealth cap and trade bill snuck in by Sen. Long Face Kerry and Jumpin Joe Leiberman. The propaganda says it will "lower" our bills somehow by providing t"ax credits" or some such swill to offset what they are going to do with rates. You go for this three walnut shells and the pea game, you are NUTS. We in the middle class are "inconvienent" to the wealthy "reformers". We want to live as they do but there are, in their minds, "too many" of us. We should go to work, if there is any, PAY OUR TAXES, and live with the heat and cold THEY can afford to escape. From their comfortable Ivy League offices they tell US to turn down the AC. Bleep them this November.

    Reply
  • Mitchel Gratwick

    I'm not wealthy but I like to be comfortable---setting thermostats below 75 is just a waste of money. Your body will easily adapt to the slightly warmer temps. For comfort you want to watch your humidity. In AZ you have no problem--but in other states keep your humidity below 60% and you'll prevent mold as well as have a more comfortable room.

    Our thermostat is set at 77 degrees and the humidistat is set at 60 %. At night we increase it to 79 degrees, and during the day when we're not at home it's set for 80 degrees.

    But the humidistat is never set above 60 %. The humidistat controls our a/c.

    I can't believe that so many people have hostile remarks to make about people who disagree with them about Air Conditioning. It's amazing, and close to paranoia...


  • Nan

    Thank you for 'telling-it-like-it-is'! Every time I see one of these 'helpful tips' articles, I'm reminded of the 'Enviro Police' who have done so much damage with their policies & are attempting to take over every area of our lives with their meddling. If not stopped, our living standards will soon be those of 3rd-world countries while the Al Gore's live like kings--which, of course, he already does! I don't want their stupid, ugly, poorly-lit, CFL bulbs, or any of the other crap they're pushing for, & I especially don't want to be paying insane utility bills & more for everything I purchase since nothing is exempt from the effect of high energy prices.


  • marti

    Well, I finally found a comment from someone who has a brain. I can't believe how efficiently the inmates in charge of congress can pull the wool over our eyes. I heard twice recently that the WH dog was flown to the vacation spot in a separate plane. But, please, put some air in your tires and set your a/c at an uncomfortable setting.


  • Athena

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!!!


Advertisement

Follow Us

  • No features currently available.

  • More Hot Topics The Daily Fix  •  DIY Warrior  •  Home Ec  •  Handmade
    DIY Disaster Doctor  •  In the Workshop  •  Product Picks

    Home Improvement Videos