person's hand adjusting AC from thermostat in home
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
July 3, 2024 ·  5 min read

To Save On Your Next Electric Bill, Don’t Crank Your AC Up When It’s Hot Out. Do This Instead.

As temperatures rise, most people will inevitably run their A/C. However, it’s not just bad for the environment. It’s also a great way to watch your electric bill skyrocket. Instead of cranking the A/C try these energy-saving techniques instead.

Cut Costly Electric Bills

BANGKOK, THAILAND - OCTOBER 14, 2020: Electric Bill from MEA on Bills from Previous Months. MEA (Metropolitan Electric Authority) is a Thai state enterprise that Provides Power to Bangkok.
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It’s no secret that proper ventilation and curtains to block out some sunlight can help ensure that the A/C is effectively doing its job. In contrast, experts warn that lowering the temperature too much will result in “straining the A/C.” Furthermore, it strains the electrical grid, adding to blackouts and increasing electricity bill costs.

Read More: Man Shows How He Uses a Old Washing Machine to Generate Free Electricity

An Expert on Energy Waste and Efficiency

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Jennifer Amann is an expert on energy-saving tips, working at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The Council is a non-profit organization, devoted to reducing energy waste and inhibiting climate change. Running the A/C isn’t just bad for the environment and your electric bill, it may also be ineffective. “It’s not going to really cool your home any faster,” Amann explains. Instead, she suggests raising the thermostat at least 1 degree. “Particularly in the middle of a hot day, it can really help avoid reliability issues on the grid,” she said.

Save Your Electric Bill While You’re Out

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She also noted another great way to cut costs and take better care of your A/C unit, and the environment, is to increase the temperature of your thermostat while you’re away. She suggests 5 to 10 degrees warmer than your typical “comfortable” temperature. “If everybody who is away from home has set their thermostat so that they’re saving at least 5 percent of their cooling, then across all of the houses that can really make a difference in addressing that peak load,” she added. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy explains people could see a 10% reduction in the cost of their electric bill by running a unit a few degrees higher for 8 hours a day.

Peak Hours Means Higher Electric Bills

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The most critical times to be thinking about really managing your AC load is in those peak hours in the middle of the day, those really hot afternoon hours,” Amann shared. “That’s when it can be particularly important to do a setback if you can.” An alternative to running the A/C on full blast during peak hours is a dehumidifier, as humidity makes the temperature feel warmer than it is.

Temperature is Relative

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Most people know what it feels like to go from one extreme temperature to another. For example, you’ve gotten used to the temperature in a cold pool, then decided to soak in the hot tub. You likely noticed the pool seems a little colder if you get back in. Similarly, if you come into a house around 75 degrees F after being in 90+ degrees, you might be surprised at how cool it feels inside. Moreover, an architectural engineering professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute explains that a lower thermostat temperature doesn’t cool the house down faster. “People think, ‘If I make the thermostat set point 60, I’ll get more cooling than a set point at 70,’ but that’s not correct,” said Shichao Liu. “You get the same amount of the cooling.”

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Hot or Cold

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As previously mentioned, temperatures may feel different depending on the circumstances. While 77 may seem high, most participants in a 2014 study by the University of Georgia reported being comfortable indoors with temperatures ranging from 71 to 77 degrees.

“If a person was in their house and they’re going to be there all the time, they could maybe turn up to 76 or 77 or so,” explained Thomas Lawrence, co-writer for the study and a professor at the University. “People should realize that if it’s really hot outside, having it at 77, 78, or even more, on the inside for a little while still feels good.”

Alternatives

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One of the best ways to ensure your A/C is working properly is to ensure the house is properly ventilated and the air ducts are clean so air can flow freely. But another way to cut the cost of electric bills and minimize A/C usage is to close curtains and blinds midday to prevent the sun’s rays from heating your house. Furthermore, opening windows in the morning and night can help cool the house down. However, it’s important to close them in the morning before the day starts to warm up. Lastly, Amann highly recommends using a fan. “People don’t realize how much more comfortable they can be if they used their fans strategically,” she said.

Summer Fears

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Although keeping up with costly electric bills can be challenging for families, a larger concern looms over Summer. Increasing yearly temperatures have brought deadly heat waves and are predicted to continue to rise each year. According to NASA, the average monthly temperatures hit record highs this past year. As such, scientists warn the deadly heat waves will continue summer after summer.

It’s clear we are facing a climate crisis,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Communities across America—like Arizona, California, Nevada—and communities across the globe are feeling first-hand extreme heat in unprecedented numbers. NASA and the Biden-Harris Administration recognize the urgency of protecting our home planet. We are providing critical climate data to better lives and livelihoods, and benefit all humanity.”

Running the A/C is a double-edged sword as it’s seemingly necessary but also perpetuates the current crisis. Therefore, finding alternatives will do more than cut costly electric bills. It will also play a role in preserving the overall health and well-being of the planet.

Read More: Scientists Invent Device to Generate Electricity from Rain

Sources

  1. “Programmable Thermostats.” Energy.Gov.
  2. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.” ACEEE
  3. Thermal comfort evaluation in campus classrooms during room temperature adjustment corresponding to demand response.” Science Direct Sama Aghniae, Thomas M. Lawrence, Tara, Nicole Sharpton, Samuel Paul Douglass, Tucker Oliver and Morgan Sutter. January 15, 2019.
  4. Don’t crank down your thermostat when it’s hot out. Do this instead.” WP. Allyson Chiu.
  5. NASA Analysis Confirms a Year of Monthly Temperature Records.” NASA. Sally Younger.