Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cutting A/C Costs

 It. is. HOT!  This summer, we have managed to cut our power bill by as much as 25% by following this pretty simple technique to try to avoid using the air conditioner.  It's made me pretty happy so I'm sharing it with you. :)

Requirements:  The outside temp needs to get to the low 70s or below at night/early morning when you can open all of the windows and turn on (preferably, ceiling) fans to circulate the air.  Note:  Days like today (90+ for multiple days in a row) do not fit into this category, so you'll just have to put this in your back pocket until it cools down.

The process to avoid using your A/C on a hot day (read: not sweltering) are pretty simple.
1.  Sometime before 7:00 A.M. (or when you wake up - the earlier the better), when the outdoor temp is cooler than room temperature (72), open all windows and turn on ceiling fans to circulate the air.

2.  Once the outdoor temp starts to rise above 72*, probably around 8:00ish**, close all windows, curtains/shades and become a hermit.

3.  Avoid using the oven and stove as much as possible and turn off heat-producing electronics (big screen TVs, desktop computers, etc.) and minimize their use.

4.  Wear summer clothes.

5.  If you're a stay-at-home mom like me, break the day up by taking day trips to the pool, library, park, children's museum, etc. so that you're not sitting in the house all day making it warmer (the more bodies, the higher the indoor temp rises).

6.  Drink a lot of water.  I don't know if this is scientific or just a mental thing, but it works for me.

7.  Once the temps start to come down at night, reopen all curtains, shades and windows and turn on all ceiling fans to again recirculate the air.   
Note: Some say they choose to leave their windows open all night.  Because we have three young children, I never leave their windows open, and rarely ours as well.  For those wondering, yes I did watch the missing children episode of Oprah.  I don't remember them specifically advising not to leave bedroom windows open, but do remember a fair amount of parents saying their children had been kidnapped this way at night.  Is it likely?  Probably not.  Is it worth playing the odds?  Definitely not.

*You can check the temperature with an outdoor thermometer (we have one conveniently attached to the outside of our patio door), checking online ( or by simply standing in front of the window/going outside to feel if the air is getting warmer.

**This time is based on the majority of my experience so far THIS summer (2012) in the Chicagoland area.  Anyone who has ever lived here knows how consistent our weather is.

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