Air Conditioning: For most homes in warm climates, air conditioning uses more electricity than any other use — up to 70 percent of a summer electric bill, according to some estimates. However, there are ways for most people to reduce this load by changing their air conditioning habits. Here are the biggest air conditioning mistakes people make, and how to reduce usage and electric bills:
Mistake No. 1: Blindly Closing Unused Vents
Opinions vary on the efficiency of closing vents and doors to unused rooms. In many cases, this can decrease the efficiency of a central air conditioning system. Consult an expert before closing off any parts of the house for the summer. Also be careful about closing off any rooms that may have a thermostat.
Mistake No. 2: Turning the Temperature Way Down
If you are comfortable at 78 degrees, don’t come home and turn the thermostat down to 70 degrees. It will not get you to 78 any faster. It will just skip past 78 and waste ever more energy getting to excessively low temperatures.
Mistake No. 3: Heating Up the Thermostat
Make sure lamps, televisions, stereos or other heat-generators are not close enough to the thermostat to accidentally drive up the temperature reading and overwork the air conditioner.
Mistake No. 4: Not Using Ceiling Fans or Running Them Backwards
Many people think their air conditioner is a substitute for ceiling fans. Instead, they should be used in tandem. According to Energy Star, make sure the fan is switched to push air downward (typically counter-clockwise). It may seem more logical to reverse the fan so it is pulling hot air upward. However, the downward airflow creates a “wind chill effect,” which makes you feel cooler.
Mistake No. 5: Using the Wrong Fans
On the other hand, exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom can push cool, conditioned air out of the house. They should not be used more than absolutely necessary in the summer.