Hot Weather Woes: Save on A/C Costs!

It’s a shame (and really rather silly) to waste electricity: it hurts the environment as more fuels must be consumed to generate the additional amounts needed, it taxes our utility infrastructure, and it costs, leaving you with fewer dollars in your wallet.

Air conditioning is the single biggest electrical consumer during the extreme Texoma heat months; here are some ways to help cut costs:
1)      Check your filter! If you’re not cleaning or replacing it every month during the hot season, it’s probably dirty. This is even more important if you have pets as their hair and dander gets pulled into your ventilation system.
2)      Don’t turn the air OFF when you leave for a few hours or even a day. Turn it UP to about 80 or 82: The unit must work harder (and longer) to pull the temperature down from a higher reading; it terms of kilowatts and bucks it will not save you and in fact costs you more if you turn it off. If you are going out of town on vacation you can get away with leaving it at say 85. Another downside to turning it OFF: the high temperatures (over 100 degrees) may cause long-forgotten odors to come forth from carpets and overstuffed furniture; it may contribute to more pests moving in, and could even discolor wallpaper.              
3)      Don’t set the thermostat to ridiculously low readings like 65 degrees. If you do this, the unit will never stop running in the summer (unless this is your intention). A better approach is to place it a comfortable level like 72 or 74. This way, it’ll get some “breaks” at night and you’ll still be cool.              
4)      Use a fan for hot spots. Many homes have a stubborn room or area that’s warmer than the rest of the house. Invest $20 in a box fan instead of making the whole house colder. Close the blinds in that room and be sure the vents in the ceiling are open all the way.                           
5)      Keep curtains and blinds drawn in rooms not being used. Sunlight is your enemy as far as saving money on the A/C is concerned. Naturally, you can open these when using the room and keep it from being gloomy!                                                     

6)      Check the outside unit. You know that noisy thing next to the house? If there is tall grass or weeds around it, or any objects stacked next to it, give them the heave-ho! Anything placed on top of it needs to be removed. This is where the heat from inside the home is vented: if air flow is in any way impeded your unit will not cool as well as it should.

7)      While you’re at it, have the outside unit cleaned if it hasn’t been done in the past year. The constant draw of air into the box pulls in dirt and bugs, and these gradually clog the cooling fins and also reduce effectiveness. You can do this yourself if you’re a bit savvy; Google how on the Web or ask an A/C person. Be careful though; the electricity to this unit must be turned off at a separate breaker. Merely turning up the thermostat does not remove the danger of a severe shock. Don't attempt this if you are unsure of what to do!
8)      Make sure doors and windows close completely. For doors, a tight weather seal is a must. If you can see light around the door that means air is getting in.                              
9)      There are other measures such as putting in attic fans, roof vents, or even radiant barriers. If you can afford them, solar screens are probably the best investment for immediate relief but they ain’t cheap: $100-200 a window depending on size and who you buy from.
Good luck and stay cool!
Steve LaNore
Chief Meteorologist

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