Chicago’s summers are as scorching as its winters are freezing, but the summer is no time to give up on energy efficiency. Here are four tips that will help you keep your electricity bill lower this summer:
- First, turn off the air conditioner anytime you leave the house. The myth that it takes more energy to get the house back up to a comfortable temperature than to leave the AC permanently is just that, a myth. If you like to have the house be cool when you get home from work, use your thermostat’s timer instead. Try testing the myth for 1 month and compare electric bills.
- Ceiling fans are a practical and energy efficient way to enhance your air conditioning in the most used areas of the house. When in their stream, they can make the temperature feel about 4 degrees cooler, which will allow you to set your AC temperature a little higher. Just remember: fans don’t actually do any cooling (your body merely perceives it), so turn them off when leaving the room.
- One of the main ways heat gets into your house is through the sunlight that comes in through your windows. Investing in window shades and keeping them closed will cut down on your air conditioning bill.
- The new generation of energy efficient air conditioners can also have a large impact, cutting over a third of your energy expenditure with no difference in output. If you have an in-unit air conditioner that is nearing the end of its life, consider an energy efficient AC and paying the slightly higher cost, which will be redeemed quickly through energy savings. And if you have central air in your building, consider raising the issue with your association the next time the unit needs replacing.
One last general suggestion: to be truly energy efficient, try to work with the seasons instead of against them, keeping the temperature a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter. You can make up the difference through the amount of clothes you wear indoors. The variance will obviously depend on your level of comfort, but you are sure to see at least some savings.