When summer weather finally settles in, there are plenty of draws on your pocketbook, from two-week summer vacations to spur-of-the-moment trips to the beach. Ice cream treats and tropical drinks tempt your taste buds and your wallet, while in-season fruits and vegetables are at their most affordable, but still a hefty chunk of change. And you just know that gas prices are going up the day before you want to drive anywhere.
However, why bypass these indulgent expenses? Living for the summer makes the rest of the year worth the grind. Instead, save money on behind the scenes costs, elements of the background of living. One of the biggest silent money-eaters is air conditioning. In 1960, only 12% of homes in the United States had air conditioning, while today, it’s rare to find a new home built without it.
Half of the Energy Budget
Heating and air conditioning account for about half of the energy used in your home annually. While it’s nice to view your house as a cool oasis when the heat soars outside, it’s easy to take air conditioning for granted. Every degree of hot air drawn out of your home by the A/C represents another 3% added to your utility bill. If you’re ready to take a hard look at how you cool your home, a little effort may produce plenty of popsicles-worth of savings.
Program Your Savings
The smart home trend is in full swing, but even simple programmable thermostats have been around for a generation. When programmable thermostats are used well, you may see about $200 of savings annually from this set-and-forget technology. When you add in the ability to control the thermostat remotely from a smartphone, your savings potential skyrockets. There’s not much you can do with a 20-year-old programmable thermostat if you’re going to be late coming home, but if you can delay a cooling cycle from your phone you can squeeze a few more dollars of efficiency out of your HVAC.
Maintain Your Money
Contemporary home cooling systems are generally reliable performers, working day-in and day-out without much thought. However, you can add to the system’s efficiency (and therefore, its cost savings) by looking after two simple maintenance chores, in addition to annual HVAC preventive maintenance. Changing the filters is one of the least expensive ways to keep your A/C running well. It’s one of those things that slips nearly everyone’s mind, so add it to your calendar reminders, put a notice on the fridge door, whatever it takes. Buy filters in bulk so that when you do remember, there’s a convenient supply on hand. Secondly, take a look at your heat exchange unit periodically, the portion of the air conditioner that’s outside. Leaves and yard debris can collect, reducing airflow and with it, your utility savings.
Open Your Windows
Though sometimes it may seem otherwise, not every summer day is a scorcher. When things cool down, for the day or perhaps just at night, open up the windows to allow the effects of fresh air into your space. Encourage cross-ventilation by using a box fan pointing outside. Exhausting air through one window encourages fresh air entry through other windows. A house that’s closed up for A/C often gets a bit stale, so the open windows may add a refreshing turnover.
Consider the Tax Advantages
You might not connect keeping your house cool with your tax return, but have been some tax credits that help improve your comfort. It’s not certain yet at this point if credits such as the Non-Business Energy Property Credit and the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit will be extended for the 2018 tax year, but be ready and keep receipts for any upgrades you make to your home to improve its energy efficiency or to use alternate fuel sources.