Summer brings with it beautiful sunshine and warm breezes. However, it can also come with high electric bills from constantly using an air conditioner to keep you and your family cool. Window air conditioners and other types of cooling units can be lifesavers during those long summer days, but they can also drain your pocketbook. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioners consume about 5 percent of all the electricity used in the United State and cost more than $11 billion to homeowners annually. Still, by being smart and implementing a few of the following tricks, you can keep the temperature in your home and your energy costs low.

Size Matters

When you buy an air conditioner, the size of the device is crucial in keeping your home cool. The international measurement of energy is British thermal units (Btu). This is the amount of energy needed to cool or heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Window air conditioning and similar units use this measurement to determine how easily the device can cool a home. A unit with a high Btu rating can cool a much larger space than a unit with a small Btu rating. When determining the right Btu size for your own home, keep in mind that you need approximately 20 Btu for each square foot in the area you desire to cool down.

Look at Energy Efficiency Ratings

The energy efficiency ratio, also known as the EER, determines the energy efficiency of the device. Products with higher EER ratings save more energy than those with lower ratings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star qualified devices are 15 percent more efficient than units that do not have this emblem. The best energy efficient AC models have an EER rating of 10 or greater.

Be Cautious of Household Appliances

With your oven, stove and other appliances, your kitchen can generate a significant amount of heat. On especially hot days, refrain from using these appliances and adding extra heat to your home. If needed, use a grill or other appliance to cook outdoors or go to a restaurant.

In addition, when taking showers on hot days, turn on the bathroom fan. The fan helps remove the excess heat and humidity from your home.

Circulate Air with Fans

When it comes to keeping your home cool, circulating the air is important. You can use all types of fans to keep the air in your home constantly moving. However, if you use floor fans, their placement is crucial. If you live in a home with multiple stories, place the fans on the upper levels of your home and open the windows on lower levels. If you live in a single-story home or an apartment, close the windows in one area of your home and place the fans nearby. Open the windows on the opposite side of the house to push air through your home.

Regular Maintenance Is Key

Regular maintenance of your window air conditioner or other cooling unit is critical in ensuring it is efficient in cooling your home. Proper maintenance differs according to each model, but there are many maintenance tasks they hold in common: cleaning or replacing air filters, cleaning the evaporator coil, and checking the unit’s drain for clogs. In addition, window air conditioning units may need to be inspected to ensure seals are tight.

It is important you keep cool if you want to have a safe and enjoyable summer, but it is also important that you don’t break the bank while doing so. By implementing just a few of the above tips and being cautious of your energy usage, you can enjoy the summer from the comfort of your cool home.

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