Saving Money With Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioning chews up 70% of the average electric bill. 

Make yours take a smaller bite.

Replace or Clean the Filter on Time

When the filter is dirty, your AC is working harder, burning more power and pushing out hotter air.  You are paying more for less service. Plus, you are shortening the life of your AC unit.  Now we are talking about $$$replacement cost$$$.

When should you do it? Every three weeks. I know the package says monthly, but we will cover why in a moment.

Filter abstract

Image by tanakawho via Flickr

Save Money on the Filter

If you are still using replaceable filters, buy them in bulk packs (usually four or six). Why? They are cheaper in the big pack— as much as $2 per filter cheaper.

If you have already invested in a washable, permanent filter (anywhere from $7-15), by the third time you clean it, you are making money. Take it out and vacuum it every three weeks, even if it does not look like it needs cleaning. Every third time, wash it.  It will disgust you… I promise.

Permanent filters are better for your wallet and the environment. You will throw one away every three to five years… not one per month.

Cold Air Sinks

You do not need to be cooling the basement.  Close the heating vents in the floor.  If not, the nice, cool air will be sinking through the vent into the basement to keep the boxes nice and cool. Save the electricity.

Keep it DRY

One of your air conditioners biggest jobs is to suck moisture out of the air.  Don’t give it more to do. Keep away from bathing, showering, cooking, laundry, sink-washing dishes and running humidifiers during the middle of the day when the air conditioning is working its hardest.

Save these chores for dawn or dusk.

Use the Thermostat

For years you have heard 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter.  Did you know that your air conditioner cannot lower the temperature more than 10 degrees? Use that knowledge when you adjust the thermostat.

When you leave for the day, do not raise the thermostat above 88. If the temperature outdoors will be less than 88, you can turn it off for the day. Crack cross windows, so air flows through the house. This will help you freshen the house as well.

Read about how you can save an extra $100 with your thermostat. (#2)

Give it a Physical

When you compare the price of a check up for an air conditioner (usually a service call price) to the price to replace one (added to three or four days with no cooling– or a hotel bill), you will quickly compute having your air conditioner checked once per year for fittings and freon reading is a wise investment.  A professional will pinpoint possible problems before they become emergencies or disasters.

Protecting your unit makes it safer for your pets and family. It eliminates poisonous freon leaks and keeps the air cleaner.

Personally, one physical saved our family more than $800. We replaced a $22 fitting, which, if it had ruptured on its own, would have lead to a $795 (plus tax and labor) evaporator replacement.  As far as I am concerned, it was one of the best $22 I ever spent.

Why three weeks?

When you look at the times you do your other chores, you will see you are taxing your air conditioner by making it wait. One week with a clogged filter can cost you $35-50.  Would you spend half an hour to save $35? That is a great hourly wage in my book! Invest the time and save the green.


© Red Dwyer 2011
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