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Cool Your Home While Reducing Energy Costs With These Tips

Summertime is perfect for soaking up some sun and enjoying outdoor adventures. However, this is also the time of year when temperatures are hot, so it’s understandable to want to stay inside and crank up the AC.

If you live in Florida, then there’s a good chance you are very familiar with air conditioning. During this time of year, it’s common to hear AC units humming dutifully as they work hard to keep residents comfortable. It’s no surprise that many residents experience a spike in energy costs during the summer.

If you’re feeling the burn of a higher energy bill, now’s a good time to assess your habits and make a few adjustments around the house. Here’s what we suggest to keep your cooling costs down this summer.

Change How You Tinker With Your Thermostat

Many homes that use central air use a thermostat to control indoor temperatures. To keep cooling costs down, the first thing to do is assess how you interface with this device.

Ideally, try to adjust the thermostat as sparingly as possible. Frequent adjustments force your HVAC system to activate more often, contributing to energy use. Therefore, exercising self-control to prevent wasting the AC makes sense.

Choose a handful of comfortable temperatures and set them at certain times of the day. Synchronize these settings to correspond with when people are most likely to be in the home.

For instance, you can lower the temperatures in the evening when everyone is most likely indoors. During the day, while you are at work or away from home, set the thermostat slightly higher so the AC doesn’t activate and use power as often.

Many modern thermostats are programmable, so you can set the unit to different indoor temperatures at your chosen times automatically. Automating this process reduces the chances of user error and makes energy usage more predictable.

What is the Ideal Indoor Temperature?

We all have our ideas of what is considered “too hot” or “too cold.” Your definition of a comfortable temperature may differ depending on where you live, your habits, and your lifestyle.

Many HVAC professionals recommend practicing the “20-degree rule.” In terms of cooling, this means setting your thermostat no more than 20 degrees below the temperatures outside. For example, if it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, you would set the thermostat to no cooler than 70 degrees.

These recommendations protect the longevity of the AC unit while keeping felt temperatures and humidity levels reasonable. The reasoning behind this rule is twofold:

  1. Relative temperature: The purpose of AC is to make the indoors feel more comfortable compared to the outdoors. So, as long as the indoor temperatures are lower than outside, you will feel relatively cooler in the house.
  2. Protect the HVAC system: Going beyond the 20-degree threshold causes your AC unit to work harder, ramping up energy use and putting excessive strain on the system’s inner workings. This results in a higher energy bill and increases the likelihood of a mechanical failure. That would also mean spending more money on repairs or, worse, a total system replacement. Yikes!

While we’re still on your AC unit, let’s talk about maintenance. One of the easiest ways to maintain the performance of your system is to replace the air filter regularly. Change your filter out every 1-3 months. Doing so maintains proper airflow while conserving energy.

What Are Some Other Ways To Keep Cooler Indoors?

Now that you have some ideas for adjusting your thermostat, you can combine it with doing other things around the house to keep cool.

Let’s start with a few simple home improvement projects:

  • Use ceiling fans: While inside a room, use a ceiling fan to circulate the air. Set the rotation counter-clockwise since this setting forces air to blow downwards and simulate a breeze. The ceiling fan makes a room feel cooler, which reduces the temptation to crank up the AC.
  • Use window treatments: Close your blinds, shutters, and curtains to block out excess sunlight. This prevents heat from entering through the windows, making rooms feel cooler. If you need to replace the window treatments, choose brightly colored items that reflect light.

Ambient heat can also build up in your home from other sources, like home electronics and appliances. This heat can cause your thermostat to recognize significant temperature changes and activate the AC to compensate. Minimize heat buildup by:

  • Using heat-generating appliances sparingly: Your oven and stovetop are some of the most significant heat sources during the summer. If you must use them, try cooking during cooler parts of the day. Alternatively, you can prepare meals using only the microwave or a slow cooker.
  • Cooking outdoors: If you have a grill, now is probably the best time of the year to use it! Roast your meats and vegetables outside for a flavorful change of pace. Cooking outdoors keeps the heat out of the kitchen and reduces the need to crank up the AC.
  • Limiting home theater use: Entertainment centers, gaming consoles, and desktop PCs generate a lot of heat when under load. Running these devices all day ramps up energy use and may cause the AC to cycle more often than usual. Keep these devices off during the day. If you want to stream, view content on a portable device.

Keeping cool during the summer can be challenging. By making some minor lifestyle adjustments this summer, you can reduce your energy costs and extend the service life of your HVAC system.

If you need to replace your AC or have future projects to complete, First Florida offers financing options to help you meet your goals. A home improvement loan allows you to turn your remodeling ideas into reality. Explore our website to learn more.


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