We have had more than a dozen days so far this summer with temperatures above 105. Trying to stay cool is not easy, especially when you have to fear the arrival of the electric bill each month.  Many of us are dealing with $200, $300, or even higher electric bills lately.   Finding ways to save money is a matter of financial survival for many of us.

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck Unsplash

Recently, a story has been going around the internet that claims you can save money on your air conditioning if you shade your outside air conditioning unit.

According to researcher Danny Parker from the Florida Solar Energy Center, shading your unit provides minuscule results at best. Covering them increases efficiency less than half a percent.

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Covering your outdoor AC unit can cause damage and actually make your unit less efficient, especially if it is not properly ventilated. This can encourage moisture buildup and can lead to your equipment breaking down. It is also a good idea to keep vegetation and trees at an adequate distance from your AC unit to prevent leaves and other materials from clogging it up.

Of course, shading your house is always a good idea. If you can keep your house out of the direct sunlight it will lower your air conditioning bill up to 20% in some cases.  So, if you don't already have trees in your yard, plant some to reap future rewards. The U.S. Department of Energy says planting just three trees in strategic areas near your AC unit or large windows can reduce your annual cooling costs by up to $250.

Rather than covering your unit or shading it, experts say you can save much more by keeping your condenser nice and clean. They say just washing it with a water hose will do more good than putting a tent over it. Also, keep you filters changed according to your manufacturer's specifications can also help you save money.

Other pointers to save on air conditioning costs include, according to the Building Performance Institute:

Set your thermostat high: The lower you go the more money you blow.

Keep the sun out: Keep your blinds, curtains and drapes closed to keep the sun out.

Make sure your home is well-insulated: Check for cracks and make sure your seals are not worn and weathered.  Have a contractor perform a home energy audit.

Keep your air filters clean:  We've already talked about that.

Don't place appliances next to your thermostat. Your thermostat is sensitive to heat. Electric appliances that generate heat can make your thermostat think its much hotter in your house than it is.

Use Ceiling Fans: Generally ceiling fans allow you to set your thermostat four degrees higher without reducing your comfort, and they use much less energy than air conditioning.

a Cropped Household Ceiling Fan.

Keep a regular maintenance schedule: Talk to our local heating and cooling expert, Bowles Heating and Cooling and Nate Bowles. They can help you set up a maintenance schedule to keep your heating and cooling running at optimum performance year round.  They're  third generation  heating and cooling experts.

If you're over 21, have a Pina Colada:  Okay, I made that up.  It does work for me though.

What was your highest electric bill so far this summer?  Let us know in the app or on our social media.  Here's to staying cool, because there's a lot of summer to go.


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