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Controlling Cooling Costs
It’s an annual conundrum: You don’t want to be hot, but you don’t want to pay through the nose to run your air conditioner. By using your A/C smartly, you can have the best of both worlds.
First, have your air conditioner serviced by an HVAC professional before the cooling season begins. An air conditioner that is running at full efficiency produces more cool for less cash. And, remember to change your filters regularly.
An HVAC professional also can help you decide if you have the right unit or units to cool your home efficiently. If you don’t already have one, consider a programmable thermostat that lets you raise the temperature in your home when you are not there, then lower it shortly before you get home.
Once you know your air conditioner is ready to operate at peak efficiency, try to avoid turning it on for as long as possible. Start with fans. A whole-house fan can make a huge difference in the temperature of your home. But box fans, ceiling fans, etc., also can help.
Open your windows when the air outside is cooler than the air inside. But if it is cooler inside, close the windows to keep the hot air out.
Avoid things that generate heat, especially during the middle of the day. Use your dryer in the evening or early morning, for example. Minimize use of your oven and stovetop. Instead, cook on the grill or use a slow cooker. (Or go out to an air-conditioned restaurant.)
Close blinds or drapes on windows where the sun beats down. You also can use awnings, trees and bushes to help block the sun.
Change to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which generate much less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs. Computers also generate heat, so turn yours off if you are not using it.
Eventually you probably will decide it’s time for the A/C. But even then, continue to do what you were doing before you turned on the air. Using fans, closing the blinds, avoiding oven and dryer use during the day, etc., all add to the efficiency of your air conditioning – and help you hold down costs.