On a hot day, there are few joys like stepping into an air-conditioned building from the sweltering outdoors. You’re probably familiar, though, with how expensive it gets to run the air conditioner all day long.
Whether your apartment is powered by central air or window units, you likely see your electric bill skyrocket during summer months as you rely on AC to keep your home comfortable. You might even feel a pang of guilt or anxiety every time you turn your AC on or lower its temperature. Finances present a huge concern with AC, so below, find five ways to use AC without overspending.
1. Choose the right window unit
Not all window units are equal, so look for the BTU value listed on the box when choosing the unit that’s best for your apartment. A 5,000 BTU window unit properly cools spaces up to 150 square feet, so using this unit to cool bigger spaces won’t just fail at cooling your home, but it’ll also spike your energy bill as it works overtime to effectively cool down the room. Likewise, a unit with an energy-saving setting is worth the extra investment, because in the long run, this unit’s ability to turn off when your apartment no longer needs cooling (and on again when it does) will save you tons of money on your utility bill.
2. Invest in “smart” controls
Smart thermostats, if your home is compatible with them, allow you to set a schedule for the times of day at which your thermostat runs at a certain temperature. You can change your thermostat temperature remotely from anywhere with a WiFi or data connection, meaning that you can return to a properly cooled home instead of waiting for your home to reach the temperature you like when you come home from a day out. A smart thermostat’s cooling schedule technology and ease of control pave a path for you to save tons of money on your electric bills.
Can’t set up a smart thermostat? Connect your AC unit to a smart plug, so you can control when your unit is turned on and off. This will help you operate the AC on a schedule so it doesn’t run unnecessarily.
3. Make every degree count
If you’re comfortable above room temperature, which scientists estimate as roughly 73 degrees Fahrenheit, then keep in mind that, for every degree above 75 degrees Fahrenheit to which you set your thermostat or window units, you could save as much as 15 percent on your electric costs. This means that, if you can handle a 78-degree room, you can save as much as (78-75) * 15 percent = 45 percent — nearly half what you’d pay otherwise!
4. Stock up on shade
What do you love more: Letting natural light pour into your home through your windows, or saving money? Especially on sunny days, natural light can bring large amounts of heat into your apartment. If you buy blinds to prevent some of this heat from entering, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to keep your home cool, and you’ll still get some light coming through to give your apartment some natural illumination. But to really save on your electric bill, go with blackout curtains, which block all light — and, therefore, heat — and prevent your air conditioner from working too hard.
5. Consider AC alternatives
Although it’s challenging to properly cool your home without AC, it’s definitely possible. You likely won’t get your home to be as cool as it would be with AC, but you can at least make it comfortable with devices such as fans, home improvements such as installation and sealing, and consistent use of blinds and curtains. This solution isn’t for everyone, so before going AC-free, think long and hard about how well you handle heat and humidity. Whether you need AC or not, you can save money on your electric bill during the summer.