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Cooling strategies to minimize AC demand, trim electric bill

5/16/2016 4:09:05 PM

Minnesota Energy Tip

Summer doesn't have to mean high cooling bills. Proper AC maintenance coupled with an overall strategy for efficiently cooling your home can help you stay comfortable while saving money. Once your air conditioner is in tip-top shape—tuned up and cleaned with a new filter—there are several steps you can take to keep the cool air in and ease the demand on your AC system.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends a range of methods:

  • Set your thermostat to at least 78°F when you're at home and need cooling. Use a programmable thermostat to increase the temperature when you're away from home and lower it to a comfortable setting when you return home.
  • Use natural ventilation when possible. Open windows and turn off your cooling system if it's cool at night and in the mornings.
  • Use energy-efficient window treatments such as awnings, blinds and draperies and close them during the day to block sunlight and radiated heat from the outdoors.
  • Using ceiling fans when you're in the room. You can raise the thermostat setting 4 degrees without affecting comfort. Remember to turn off fans when you leave the room—fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
  • Find air leaks and seal them with caulk or weather-stripping to prevent warm air from leaking in.
  • Limit the heat from your appliances. Cook outside on a grill, and try not to use the washer, dryer, and dishwasher during the heat of the day. Use an exhaust fan when showering and range hood when cooking to remove heat and humidity from your home.
  • Move lamps, TVs, and other appliances away from your thermostat. The extra heat can cause the air conditioner to run longer.
  • When landscaping, consider adding shade to block solar heat during the hot summer months.

For more tips, check out the DOE’s infographic Energy Saver 101: Everything You Need to Know About Home Cooling, as well as spring and summer energy-saving tips.

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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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