In these hot days of summer, air conditioning in our homes feels good but can increase our electric bills fast. Following some of these tips from the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Council and AEP of Ohio will help to cut cooling costs and beat the heat:
Set your thermostat at 78 degrees, and use ceiling fans to help circulate the cool air.
Replace or clean filters once a month.
Position lamps and televisions away from your thermostat.
Install a programmable thermostat for your air conditioner to use less energy cooling when you are away or sleeping.
Use a microwave or the grill instead of a conventional oven.
Hang laundry outside to dry. (A few minutes on your clothes dryer’s “fluff” cycle will soften any stiffness.)
If you must use them, avoid running heat-producing appliances (ovens, clothes dryers) during the hottest times of day.
Keep sunny windows covered with blinds or draperies.
Install light-colored window shades or sun-shade screens to reflect heat away from your house.
Use blinds, window shading film or awnings on windows that reflect the sun in the late afternoon.
Use fans with your air conditioning to move cool air throughout your home.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents.
Turn lights off when not in use.
Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
Allow dishes to air dry instead of using your dishwasher’s “dry” cycle.
Take five minute showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use.
Consider adding a whole house or attic fan which can reduce the indoor temperature from 3 to 8 degrees by pulling cool air in at night.
Block the heat by adding additional insulation to the attic and walls.
Use low-e films, a thin plastic film that sticks on windows, to block the heat while letting the light in.
If your air conditioner is outside trim foliage to at least 2 feet away from the unit and remove any leaves, grass or twigs under and around the unit.
Have your air conditioner serviced to make sure it is working properly and efficiently.
Source: Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Council, www.pickocc.org and AEP Ohio, www.aepohio.com.
Pat Brinkman is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Family & Consumer Sciences.