Running an air conditioner can be expensive, to put it mildly. As we mentioned in this article, it’s not uncommon for electricity bills in Arizona to triple during the summer months as people run their air conditioners all day. This should come as no surprise; air conditioners are, after all, very power-hungry.
Of course, you probably know all that. But do you know how to save money on your air conditioning bill? By the end of this post, you will!
How to Save Money On Your Air Conditioning Bill: 10 Easy Strategies
#1. Clean/Replace Your Air Conditioner Filters Monthly
Dirty filters force your air conditioner to work a lot harder than it should. At American Home Water and Air, we’ve seen many people underestimate just how pronounced this effect can be. Going months (or worse, years) without cleaning your filter commonly results in airflow issues. Just as importantly, you’ll also find yourself breathing in all kinds of allergens.
Cleaning your filters is very simple. Even if your air conditioner has several, you’ll be done in less than an hour. We recommend cleaning or replacing your filters (depending on what the manufacturer recommends) at least once per month. See this post for more information.
#2. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
This is another commonly-overlooked way to reduce cooling costs. While you might think you’re doing a good job of tweaking your old-school thermostat’s settings throughout the day, a programmable one can do so much more. These devices communicate with your air conditioner constantly, adjusting the temperature as soon as it makes sense. You can also set them to reduce your air conditioner’s performance during the hours you’re typically away from home.
#3. Turn Your Thermostat Back 7°-10° F
According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat back just 7°-10° F can help you save as much as 10% annually. The goal is to keep your thermostat’s target temperature as close to that of the outdoors as possible.
Now, in wetter climates, you wouldn’t feel much discomfort by setting your thermostat back 10° because air conditioners also regulate humidity. Humidity in Arizona is pretty low, though, so you may want to be a bit more liberal with your settings than what the Department of Energy recommends. Still, scale your thermostat settings back and you’ll (unsurprisingly) pay less and possibly be surprised at how comfortable your home remains.
#4. Upgrade to a More Efficient Air Conditioner
Air conditioners can last as long as 20 years. If you’ve been using the same one for more than a decade, however, chances are its efficiency ratings are absolutely abysmal by today’s standards. Check out our SEER rating calculator to see how much you could save by upgrading to a modern unit with a rating of 16 versus the 8 or 9 that was deemed sufficient years ago.
A more efficient air conditioner will cost you more upfront but you can quickly recoup those costs.
#5. Install Blackout Curtains
Wondering how to save money on your air conditioning bill without spending a whole ton of money? Blackout curtains are a decent option.
Chances are, you don’t use every room in your house throughout the day. Rather than keeping the blinds open all the time for the hot Arizona sun to permeate, seal those rooms off with thick curtains. You’ll likely find that your entire house gets cooler.
#6. Circulate Cool Air with Ceiling Fans
Some home designs (particularly older ones) aren’t very efficient when it comes to air circulation. Depending on what type of air conditioner you have, this may lead to some parts of your home being much warmer than others, which may tempt you to crank the thermostat.
Instead, consider installing ceiling fans. If you live in a rental property or are otherwise unable to make these modifications to your home, some standing fans will do as well.
#7. Avoid Activities That Produce Heat in Your Home
If you can wait to cook, bake, and run your drying machine until after dark, you’ll find your home a lot cooler during the day. You won’t have to turn on the air conditioner as much.
#8. Don’t Turn Your Air Conditioner Off Completely When You’re at Work
Another little-known method for reducing air conditioning costs is to avoid switching your unit off completely when you’re away from home. The mistake people make here is coming home, realizing their home is an inferno, and then cranking their air conditioner all the way up thinking that will cool things down quickly.
As we discussed thoroughly in this article, air conditioners don’t work like that. You’re much better off turning your thermostat up slightly (raising the target temperature) when you’re away from home. Your house will still be fairly comfortable when you get back and it won’t take very long to get back to optimal cooling levels.
#9. Plant Trees
Here’s a tip regarding how to save money on your air conditioning bill that has nothing to do with how you operate your HVAC system.
Planting trees outside your home can shield certain rooms from the blazing sun. It’s really as simple as that. Check out this article from the state’s forestry department to learn about trees native to Arizona. There are many good, leafy options to choose from.
#10. Don’t Run Your Air Conditioner Below 68°
Here’s one last way to reduce cooling costs. Air conditioners are “happiest” running when the outside temperature is 68° or more. Below that, efficiency falls off a cliff. While most people would never run their air conditioner below 68° for comfort anyways, some people do it to get rid of condensation on their windows. Doing this regularly is not worth the added cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it more cost-effective to keep my AC on?
Air conditioners do operate more efficiently if you keep them running rather than turning them off and on regularly. Simply turn the air conditioner down when you’re not home. You really only need to turn it off completely during the cooler months.
What is the best AC temperature to sleep?
For most people, the best air temperature for sleep is between 60° and 67°. That doesn’t vary by season, either, so you can use that as a baseline for your furnace setting as well.
Is 72° too cold for AC?
Most modern air conditioners are designed to run optimally when the temperature outside is 68° or more. Additionally, they strive to keep about a 20° difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures. Therefore, if the temperature outside is 72°, your air conditioner is not going to run optimally.
That said, if you’re setting the thermostat to 72° when the temperature is in the 90s, that’s more reasonable.