Save Energy, Money, and the Environment
1. Ease up on the AC.
Air conditioning accounts for about 17% of the average household's annual electric use, and obviously far more during the summer months. If you ordinarily spend your summer weekdays in an air-conditioned workplace, your home energy use may spike even higher in coming weeks.
But take it from someone who's been working from home for over five years now: You don't need to keep your house as cold as an office building. You're working remotely—you can wear shorts and flip flops! The U.S. Energy Department recommends setting your AC to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you're home, and 85 when you're out, to shave up to 10% off your cooling bill.
In our house, we try to cool things down the old fashioned way. As long as it gets down to the 70s or lower at night, we open a bunch of windows to let that cool night air in (or suck it in with a fan), then close them in the morning and draw the curtains shut on the east and south sides of the house—trapping the cool air indoors and keeping the sun from heating things up too fast. Even on 90-degree days, we can usually make it until about 4pm before caving and switching on the AC.
Also remember that your cabinets and couches don't really care if they're cool—the main goal is to keep yourself and your family comfortable, not your furniture. So if you spend most of the day holed up in your home office, you don't need to cool your entire 2,000-square-foot house to 75 degrees, just that one room. A simple fan can also augment your air conditioner, allowing you to keep the thermostat a few degrees warmer without sacrificing comfort.
Finally, help your AC help you. Check the air filters and clean or replace them as needed so the unit isn't struggling to circulate air. Find and seal leaks in the air ducts or around windows and doors so you're not losing as much of that precious cold air. Try to grill in warm weather instead of heating up the kitchen by cooking indoors, and use your stove and bathroom exhaust fans to get rid of hot, sticky air after dinner prep or a shower—just make sure to turn these fans off 15 to 20 minutes after you're done, so you're not sending chilled air out the roof.
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