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Saving Money and Energy on an Air Conditioner

Updated on May 14, 2007

The invention of the air conditioner was a wonderful thing. Especially for those living in the south. In the south you really can't live without it. For the rest of the country, it sure makes life more pleasant. However with all that pleasantness, comes high energy bills. There are ways to save money and energy when using your air conditioner.

The biggest way to save energy and money is to not run your AC. However, for most people that isn't what you want to hear. So let's try running it as little as possible. Keeping your thermostat set at the highest temperature you can will save you money every day.

If you are out of the house all day, turn it off when you leave. If you are the forgetful type invest in a programmable thermostat. This is actually one of the best purchases you can make when it comes to your home. You can program this to turn off about the time you leave in the morning and turn back on 30 minutes before you arrive home. You will save energy by not running the AC all day, and it will still be nice and cool when you walk through the door in the evening.

Where is your air conditioner placed? An AC that is shaded will work more efficiently than one that is baking in the sun all day. If it isn't currently in a shaded spot, plant a tree and/or bushes to block the sun. An AC with a clean filter will also run more efficiently, so make sure you change or clean yours regularly.

If you live in a place that gets cool at night, take advantage of this. Turn the air conditioner off and open the windows. Installing an attic fan is a great way to draw the cool night air into your house, without running the AC. Swamp coolers are another investment worth making. These are fans that have a place in the bottom to put cool water. As the fan blows, it draws up the cool water and blows out cool air. Swamp coolers also add moisture to the air, which is very beneficial in dry climates.

If you are needing to purchase a new air conditioner, or replace one, purchase the most energy efficient model you can afford. This will really pay off in the long run. If you have a very old AC, it could be worth it to replace it with a new energy efficient model.

Ceiling fans will help to circulate the air. As the fan pushes the air over your body, it will push the hot air away, which makes you feel cooler. Feeling cooler will allow you to increase the temperature the AC is set at.

Other things you can do to save money and energy on your air conditioning is to paint your house a light color. Dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect the heat. Also consider planting shade trees near the windows that the sun beats into. Shade trees will keep the sun out in the summer, and let the sun in in the winter.

When we lived in CO the sun came beating in the back of our house every morning, all morning. We kept the blinds shut tight and the curtains pulled all morning. It really helped keep the house cool. Adding insulation to your attic will prevent the cool air from escaping through the ceiling.

Anything you do that generates heat will increase the temperature of your home, therefore it will make the AC work harder to keep your house cool. Keep this in mind when cooking. Summer is a great time to use your BBQ. The same thing applies to lights. Light-bulbs generate heat, so the more you have on, the hotter the house will be.

So while running your air conditioner may be neccessary, it doesn't have to cost a fortune to do it. Making some small adjustments can save you lots of money over the summer. For more ideas, check here. Mr Electricity has lots of great statitics on exactly how much savings you will get by making adjustments to your AC use. He also has some more great ideas that I hadn't thought of.


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      mrslisae 8 years ago

      good tips. I would like to add that if you have pets that can tolerate heat (we have 1 that can and 1 that can't)..Leaving the air off all day will work but give the animal free roam of most of the home so they can choose where its coolest and not get sick..We take our chihuahua on short trips with us and leave the cat to roam to cooler places and always leave a large container of fresh water.

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      mrnrg 8 years ago

      Hi Jennifer,

      These are all great tips. I live in a tropical region and air conditioners are a common by-product of living here.

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      Jeff 9 years ago



    • profile image

      Jeff 9 years ago



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      Sam 9 years ago

      I live in Arizona so I constantly use my AC. Last year I saw on that green living TV show a device called the Cool-N-Save. It's some sort of "air conditioner pre-cooler thingy" - long story short I bought one and have it installed. (I guess I'm a sucker for Ed Begley Jr.)

      While it is a bit early to see how much I'm saving I have some pretty high hopes for this thing.

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      Jennifer 10 years ago

      Glad it could help!


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      John Carter 10 years ago

      Living in Vegas you probably realize how important air conditioning is to me so reading your article has been very useful to me as i am looking to replace my very ineffectual current air conditioning unit. Many thanks.