If you're willing to get a little creative, there are many ways you can save money on air conditioning. Start using these DIY tricks to lower your energy bill. Because in summer, you need your extra money for all the fun stuff you want to do.
1. Close the Blinds
If you want to block the heat, block the sunlight. Close the blinds to literally throw shade over your interior. The shadier space will keep the air conditioning from turning on as much.
At the very least, do this during the hottest part of the day, usually between 10am and 4pm. It will block the natural light for a little while but it'll be worth it when you see the savings on your bill.
If you leave home during the day, close the blinds before you go. If you aren't inside to enjoy the light, you don't need the light. The only exception is for houseplants. if you have plants near windows, crack the blinds as needed to give them light, or set them up outside for a while, just don't overwhelm them if they're not used to full sun.
2. Avoid the Stove and Other Big Appliances
During the daytime when it's hot, try not to use heat-generating appliances. Wait till the sun goes down to run the dryer and the dishwasher. And if possible, don't cook on the stove or in the oven during the hottest hours.
To the extent you can, stick to cold foods like sandwiches and salads that don't require heat during the day. Using the stove or the oven will only generate heat that the air conditioner has to work to counter.
Remember that you can heat up soups, melt cheese and perform other small tasks in the microwave, which won't generate heat like those other large appliances.
3. Add Screens and Awnings
Windows let a lot of heat into your home. Cover them from the outside with solar screens and awnings to reduce the work on your AC.
You can also use window films, which are metallic sheets that reflect heat away from your home. You can install these yourself—window films are made to be easy to use. They are basically thin sheets that reflect heat so it isn't absorbed by the glass.
Films can only be used on closed windows. Solar screens and outdoor awnings work with the windows open or closed. Either option deflects the heat from the sun, so you end up with a cooler interior.
4. Check for Leaks
Air leaks can significantly increase your energy bills, because the cool air from your AC seeps out, requiring the device to work harder.
Every year, conduct an audit by looking around your home for places where air could be leaking in. Search around all doors and windows and take a look at the floors, too. If you see any gaps, seal them with caulk.
You can also get an official home energy audit. A professional will check your home for leaks, even places you might not think of, and advise you about places where you could add more insulation or seal up the area.
Don't forget to check for areas where plumbing pipes, electricity, dryer vents, and other utilities and appliances come into your home. Seal these areas carefully for maximum energy savings.
5. Shade Your AC Unit
Is your AC unit sitting outside in the sun? If so, it's not working as efficiently as it could. Add an awning to your home to shade the unit and help it run at peak efficiency.
All you need is some relatively weatherproof and durable material you can support with a simple lean-to design. A plastic tarp and some plastic piping are all you need for this project. Use spray paint, washi tape, and other craft items if you want to spiff it up a bit.
You can get creative and make an awning using any available materials, or buy one pre-made from a home store or online shop. You can even grow greenery over a frame to create a lovely natural canopy. This one small change can help greatly improve the efficiency of your AC unit.
6. Use a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier can do a lot to keep your home cooler. Humidity always makes your surroundings feel hotter and sweatier. Removing the moisture from the air will help keep things much more comfortable, and help your AC unit to work a little less.
In fact, many air conditioners are sold as AC/dehumidifier combos in order to help cool spaces more efficiently. The dehumidifier really allows the AC to be more efficient and it helps to keep your home feeling much more comfortable in multiple ways.
7. Move Furniture Away from AC Vents
If you're serious about cutting back on that AC bill, locate all the AC vents in your home. In most cases, they're going to be low on the wall. And in some cases, you may have pieces of furniture blocking them.
Anything blocking a vent, even a piece of furniture, is obstructing the airflow and making your system work a little harder to cool your home down. Blocked vents cause your air conditioning system to run less efficiently, which makes your utility bill higher than it needs to be.
8. Use More Fans
Moving air is cooler air. Ceiling fans can be a big help, but if you can't add them to your home, add more table fans. These are small and relatively affordable, and they'll help get the job done. It sounds old-fashioned but a single fan can cool your home by about six degrees Fahrenheit.
That means you can turn your thermostat up so the air conditioning kicks on less. The only thing you have to remember is to turn your fans off as you leave rooms, so the extra power use doesn't cancel out your savings.
A fan can also be a great way to stay cool at night while you sleep. Turn a fan on near your bed and you can bump the air conditioner up a degree or two to save a little money when you're not awake.
9. Practice Money Saving AC Habits
Change Your AC Filters
Check and change the filter or filters on your HVAC unit once a month during heavy use periods. Air filters are inexpensive and they collect hair, dust, and grime. Over time, this junk builds up and blocks the filter, which means your AC has to work even harder to keep your home cool, making your bill even higher.
Leave the Thermostat Alone
Get into the habit of leaving the thermostat alone. Set it to a temperature and stop fiddling with it. Going up and down a lot will drive that bill up a whole lot.
Eventually, you might want to consider installing a smart thermostat that can automatically go on and off when it can be most efficient.
Clean AC Sensors
Make sure your AC registers don't have dust and debris on them. Obstructions can make the system work harder since it can't get an accurate reading of the temp.
Keep the Outdoor Unit Clean
Check the unit outside regularly, too. Debris can get into the unit and create clogs here as well. Clean it off regularly and make sure no part of the unit is blocked. Twigs, rocks, and dirt can block fans and vents and cause the unit to work much harder.
Close Doors to Unused Rooms
Don't make your system cool spaces you aren't using. If a room you don't go into much doesn't have an AC vent, keep the door closed to reduce the amount of work on your system. In colder months, this trick works with heating systems too.
10. Plant Shade Trees
Planting shade trees near your house is a long-term project, even if you get some that are several years old, but it can have a big effect over the years. Not only will these plants protect your home from extra heat, they'll add natural beauty to your landscape and boost the value of your home.
11. Save Up For Solar Power
By lowering your cooling costs, you’ll be giving yourself a little more money every single month. If you can, set up an automatic savings contribution to fund an eventual bigger AC project, such as buying a more efficient cooling unit, adding solar panels into your energy mix, or even installing a full roof of solar shingles.