How to Limit Your Use of the Air Conditioner During the Summer

Summer’s coming. It’s not too warm where I live yet, just mid-80s at the hottest part of the day, but I’m hearing my neighbor’s air conditioner running in the evenings already. That kind of amazes me. Our own home hasn’t gotten over the mid-70s yet, so I know they can’t be that hot, and opening the windows to let the air flow through is still really effective.

I know that’s not how many people think. But it’s a good idea to really think about how much you use your air conditioner. You can save a lot off your energy bill, and it’s better for the environment as well.

1. Set the thermostat high and program it.

I know a lot of people like a really cool house. They always make me wonder how warm they try to keep their homes in winter, since a lot of people try to keep their homes cooler in the summer than they tried to heat their homes to in winter. It makes little sense.

Most people can easily stand keeping their homes at around 80 F. It’s not that bad. You will get used to it if you give yourself the chance.

Put in a programmable thermostat and program it for appropriate temperatures throughout the day and night. If you regularly aren’t home for a part of the day, you really don’t need to cool your home that much. If you know evenings are cool enough to turn the AC off, take that into consideration as well.

2. Use fans.

You’ll feel cooler while still using less electricity than the air conditioner uses if you use fans in your home. Ceiling fans are best, but standing fans help also. They all blow hot air away from your body, helping you to feel cooler.

3. Use a damp cloth.

A damp cloth or shirt feels wonderful if you’re feeling too hot. The water evaporation helps to cool your body.

4. Open windows as the day cools.

This doesn’t work in all areas or all the time, but if your evenings are pleasant enough, open up your windows and let the breeze flow through. It’s a wonderful natural cooling that only costs you a little bit of time.

5. Plant shade trees.

I like these to be fruit trees also when possible, for a touch of hyperlocal produce. But even if your tree doesn’t grow food, it can shade your home, helping to keep it from heating up so much during the day.

6. Cover windows.

It’s not attractive, but a flattened cardboard box in the window keeps out an amazing amount of heat. You can also drape blankets over curtain rods if you want something that looks a little better. Mylar film is another good alternative. The kind used for emergency blankets is very cheap. You can find them for as little as $1 each if you look around a little.