No one enjoys paying more than necessary for air conditioning, especially when those hot summer months roll around. Energy bills can be quite a shock and leave you staring down at the utility bill wondering why is my AC bill so high?
There could be several answers to that question. The good news is that learning how to save on the AC bill is easy and good for your wallet and the planet. Here, we will go over why your AC bills could be so high and offer several steps you can take to boost the efficiency of your AC system and bring down those pesky cooling costs.
What Makes My AC Bill so High
No matter what, your utility bills are going to be higher during the hottest and coldest months of the year. However, it could be that your bill is higher than it should be. If your bills are unusually high during the summer or seem to have an unexplained spike, a little investigating around your home may help you find the problem. Here are the most common factors that can make your AC bill high:
- Old or poorly maintained air conditioning system: If your AC unit is old or not well-maintained, it may not be running as efficiently as it could, causing it to use more energy. Newer units are much more efficient than older ones, and poorly maintained units often use more energy while producing less cold air than those kept in good shape.
- Inadequate insulation: A home’s insulation helps it keep the cold air produced by your AC in and the hot air out. If you don’t have enough insulation, you could be spending money to cool air that ends up in your yard instead of your house.
- Thermostat too low: Cool air is refreshing — that’s why we have air conditioners! However, setting your thermostat too low on a very hot day—or setting it extremely low to cool a hot house quickly—can be challenging for your AC.
- Air leaks in home: If your home has gaps or cracks in the walls, or leaky ductwork, that let the cold air escape, you are probably going to be paying quite a bit extra on your energy bills. This not only affects you during the summer, but is a problem that will impact your utility bills every month of the year.
Seven Simple Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your AC Bill
Taking steps to lower your AC bill is not just beneficial for your wallet, but it's also a fantastic way to contribute to a more sustainable and energy-efficient lifestyle. Simple changes can greatly improve your home's energy efficiency and reduce energy use. This not only results in cost savings but also extends the life span of your AC system, ensuring that you stay cool and comfortable for many summers to come. So, by taking steps to reduce your AC bill, you're actually investing in a greener planet and a more comfortable, cost-effective home.
There are several ways to save on the AC bill in your home:
- Regular maintenance: Air conditioning maintenance is a great way to ensure your AC is running efficiently. Home Heating & Cooling offers a preventive maintenance program that includes an inspection, cleaning and repair or replacement of any failing parts.
- Replace filters: Change your HVAC filter regularly to keep it from being clogged by dirt or debris like pet hair. Most filters are changed every 60-90 days, but refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines of your HVAC to be sure.
- Use a smart thermostat: A smart thermostat can adjust the temperature when you're not home, saving energy and money. Some models also analyze and adapt to your schedule, and can be controlled remotely by a cell phone or tablet.
- Consider air conditioning replacement If your AC is old, installing a new air conditioner could significantly reduce your monthly bills. Newer models use less energy, offer very good performance and tend to require much less repair than older units. Federal tax credits are available to help reduce the cost of upgrading to a new, energy-efficient system.
- Seal air leaks: Ensure windows and doors are properly sealed to prevent cool air from escaping and hot air from entering.
- Use ceiling fans: Ceiling fans can help circulate cool air, reducing the need for air conditioning.
- Insulate your home: Proper insulation keeps your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing HVAC usage. In states with cold winters like Illinois, officials say you need 16-18 inches of attic insulation in your home for proper protection.
What Temperature to Set an Air Conditioner in Summer?
Deciding what is the right temperature to set your air conditioning during summer is not just about comfort, but also a key component in how to lower your AC bill. Attempting to rapidly cool your home by setting the thermostat to a very low temperature can make your air conditioning system work harder than necessary, leading to increased energy consumption and higher bills. Instead, it's better to set your thermostat to a comfortable and energy-efficient temperature and then leave it.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit as the best AC temperature for energy saving. If you’re not going to be home, you can raise it a few degrees to avoid cooling the space while you aren’t there. However, avoid drastic temperature swings. Your AC is designed to maintain a consistent indoor temperature, not to quickly cool down a very hot house. So set your thermostat at an appropriate temperature, let the AC run and enjoy a comfortably cool summer without the stress of a skyrocketing energy bill.