Simple Tips to Save Money This Summer While Enjoying The Comfort of Your Air Conditioner

As the temperature rises, so does the electric bill. Running your air conditioner during the summer months is quite costly, but with these simple tips you won’t have to sacrifice your comfort to save some money.

Do you have the right size?

When it comes to maximizing your comfort while minimizing your electric bill; size matters. If you purchase an air conditioner that’s too large you could be throwing away money, however purchase an air conditioner that’s too small and it’s likely you’re not cooling your space efficiently. Having the right size air conditioning system is key. Whether you have a window air conditioner unit or a portable air conditioner unit, you need to make sure your AC has the right number of BTUs for the space you are trying to cool. Check the charts below.


Although the size of the space is important, it is not the only factor. Think of how many people will be occupying this space, is it more than two? If so add 600 BTUs for each additional person. Is the space very sunny? If the space you want to cool lets in a lot of sunlight increase BTUs by 10%. If the unit is for a kitchen add 4,000 BTUs.  You also need to check that the space you are cooling is properly insulated. If cool air is escaping this can affect the amount of BTUs needed as well.

When was the last time you cleaned the filters?

If you can’t remember that is probably not a good sign. The most important maintenance task to ensure efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely clean or replace the filters. A clogged, dirty filter blocks normal airflow and reduces the unit’s efficiency significantly. Cleaning or replacing a dirty air filter will lower energy consumption of your air conditioner by 5-15 percent.

Some types of filters are reusable and others must be replaced. You should clean or replace filters every month during the summer season. You may need to give filters more frequent attention if your air conditioner is in constant use, subjected to dusty conditions, or you have a dog or a cat, or any other fur-bearing pet in the house.

As well as filters you should also check your evaporator coil once a year and clean it as necessary.

Setting the right temperature and mode

Most pros would agree that setting the temperature so that it only varies a few degrees is best for efficiency. When nobody is home bring the temperature up a few degrees and drop it when people are home. Set your air conditioner on auto. When you leave your air conditioner running constantly, the system won’t have a chance to drain off the water that’s condensed on its evaporator coil. Instead, it will blow it back into your home. In “auto” mode, the unit has a chance to recover and remove all accumulated condensation each time it shuts off.  The idea is to keep a comfortable temperature maintained. Remember dropping the temperature does not cool an area any faster, but it does use more energy.

At night give your air conditioner a break. When the temperature drops in the evening open your windows and use fans to circulate the cold air.  Fans use much less energy than an air conditioner. In the morning you should shut the windows to trap the cold air in.


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How To: Beat the Heat

We’ve already covered how to choose the best air conditioner for you and what you need to know to keep it running like new, so, putting A/Cs aside for now, here are some additional ways you can keep cool in this weather:

  • At night, open your windows and turn on any ceiling fans so that they are spinning counter-clockwise to circulate the air. In the morning, close the windows to trap the cooler air inside while it lasts (especially during peak heat times of 10am – 2pm). Closing your blinds and curtains will help the cooler air last longer, espeically on the south or west sides of your home where the sun beats most.
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime, as it raises body temperature.
  • Turn off the computer, stereo, TV, desk lamp or any electronic that generates heat when not in use.
  • Wear loose, light-colored cotton or linen clothing to give your skin air to breathe.
  • Placing a container of ice in front of a window or fan can act like a mini-A/C and offers surprisingly satisfying relief.
  • Take on the town! Get out and peruse your town’s shops, restaurants, or libraries that have air conditioning. Hot afternoons are the perfect time to run errands and go to the supermarket.
  • Put mint in a glass of water or use skin care products infused with it to refresh yourself with a nice cooling sensation.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content, including leafy lettuces, corn on the cob, cucumbers, watermelon, and summer squash. You can also sweat out the heat with spicy foods like hot peppers, fresh ginger, horseradish, and black pepper.
  • Alternatively and surprisingly enough, try to avoid ingesting foods that are lower than your actual body temperature. Ice cream will initially cool you off for 15 minutes or so, but your body will soon increase blood flow to warm you back up.

Here is a recipe that uses two of the cooling foods we’ve listed above that avoids heating up any appliances and will keep your family refreshed:

Recipe: Watermelon Salad with Mint Leaves

Prep time: 20 minutes; Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 (5-pound) watermelon
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 whole mint sprigs


Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves.

Source: Paula Deen & Food Network

How do you keep cool in the summer? Let us know in the comments!


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