When the temperature is rising, do you run the air conditioning or open the windows? The choice isn’t always obvious. You may think open windows are the more economical choice, but constantly starting and stopping your central AC or window unit can be inefficient and costly. To help you decide, here are some tips for implementing the best cooling solutions for any warm-weather situation.
It’s not just hot – it’s humid
Solution: Run your AC
Climate makes all the difference when deciding whether open windows or air conditioning will be the most cost-efficient option. If you live in a climate that’s both balmy and sticky, the air conditioning will be your saving grace. If the humidity level is high, then anyone inside the home will feel uncomfortable. Opening the windows in this case will let in more humidity, which can also be hard on your home.
Avoiding a high energy bill
Solution: It depends
For those who don’t have to deal with as much humidity, the next question is just how hot it gets in summer. If you live in an area with cooler summer temperatures, opening the windows and keeping the AC turned off as much as possible will save energy costs in the long run. In a warmer climate, you might be able to use minimal AC if you tightly seal your windows and doors to prevent cold air escaping. But in general, it’s best to just keep the AC running if you expect you’ll need to turn it back on during the day.
Leaving town for a few days
Solution: Run your AC at a higher temperature than normal
Setting a proper ‘away temperature’ for your home can help to conserve energy and costs while at work or on a vacation. Shoot for a higher inside temperature that’s closer to the temp outside, 7 to 10 degrees above your normal setting. This will slow down the flow of heat into your home and make it easier for your AC to work efficiently. For the ultimate control over your indoor temperature, use a smart thermostat so you can adjust your settings when you’re away from home. You can also set a program to automatically adjust the temperature based on your schedule.
Your energy bills are consistently high
Solution: Upgrade your system
Nobody wants to sink thousands of dollars into their home mechanicals if they can avoid it. But today’s AC systems are more efficient than their predecessors, and a new system can pay off quickly if your current one is hanging on by a thread. Many homeowners presume that central air conditioners operate at 100% on or off to maintain consistent indoor temperatures. Today, two- and multi-speed central air-conditioning systems offer outstanding, constant levels of home comfort while minimizing the electrical consumption. If your air conditioner is 20 years old, it may be time to upgrade to something modern. The savings over the life of the new system will substantially offset the difference in the initial price.