While in a perfect world we wouldn’t need air conditioning to feel comfortable at home during the summer, here in the Shenandoah Valley, AC truly is a necessity. Summers seem to get hotter every year, and the humidity is at times almost unbearable.
The return of summer heat and humidity may have you anxious about opening that next energy bill, but fortunately there are simple ways to save money on your AC bills this summer.
Schedule AC Maintenance
If you haven’t yet scheduled annual maintenance for your air conditioner, now is the time to do so! More than just a “good idea,” regular AC maintenance keeps your cooling system running at peak efficiency, helping you reduce cooling costs. Plus, a little maintenance now could spare you from a costly AC repair later on this summer.
Not sure you’ll remember to schedule AC maintenance every year? Consider signing up for a maintenance plan, which gives you pre-scheduled, ongoing maintenance for your cooling and heating systems.
Upgrade and Program Your Thermostat
Many Shenandoah Valley homeowners waste valuable energy dollars in the summer cooling an empty house. With a programmable thermostat, you can program your home comfort for maximum energy savings. If your house is typically empty from 9 am to 5 pm during the week, for example, you could set your thermostat to a higher temperature between these times. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that turning the thermostat up 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day in the summer can save you up to 10% on cooling costs, so the savings can really add up!
With a smart Wifi thermostat, your energy saving potential is even greater. Smart Wifi thermostats let you control your home comfort remotely with your smart phone — which is perfect for shifting schedules and unexpected periods away from the house. If you don’t yet have a programmable thermostat, or you want to take advantage of the advanced features that smart Wifi thermostats offer, now is a great time to upgrade your thermostat.
Utilize Ceiling Fans
While a ceiling fan does not do much to change the temperature, it does make a room feel cooler than it really is. If your bedroom is 76°F, for example, turning on the ceiling fan will make it feel like it is about 72°F. This means you can bump your thermostat up a few degrees, run ceiling fans in the rooms you are using, and still experience the same level of comfort.
Ceiling fans use significantly less energy than air conditioners, so you may be surprised at just how much energy this technique saves!
Minimize Solar Heat Gain
“Solar heat gain” refers to the heat that sunlight brings into a home. (Imagine the warm area in front of a brightly light window.) You can minimize solar heat gain — and in turn reduce the need to run air conditioning — by keeping curtains, blinds, and shades closed during the day. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, well fitted cellular shades can reduce unwanted heat gain through windows by up to 80%.
Install a Ductless Mini Split
Is there a particular room in your home that is notoriously difficult to keep cool? Instead of cranking up the AC in your whole house just to keep that one room comfortable, install a ductless mini split for targeted cooling. Ductless mini splits are ultra energy efficient, eliminate the need for window AC units, and even provide heat for when winter eventually rolls around.