It's Getting Hot in Here: Energy-Saving Air Conditioner Tips

Keep your home cool and your utility bill manageable, while safeguarding the environment.

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Today is scorching hot. It's oppressively humid. It's a day to spend all of my nonworking hours in a swimming pool. It's a day to give in and crank up the AC. But air conditioning, as we learned years ago, fuels global warming. Here are a few eco-friendly ways to beat the heat and keep your energy bills low.

  • Turn the air conditioner off when you're at work if you don't have any pets. See if your company offers time-of-use pricing, where you pay only for the hours you're in the house with the AC on, for even more savings.
    • If you're buying an air conditioner, make sure it's Energy Star rated.
      • Don't place lamps or other appliances near your thermostat—they radiate heat that will cause it to run longer.
        • Electric fans use 90 percent less energy than air conditioning, so switch them on for days that aren't as hot.
          • Pull down the shades on the sunny side of your house during the day.
            • Avoid using your oven, if possible, and skip your dishwasher's drying cycle, which fans hot moisture into your kitchen.
              • Try a bed fan, or for the fashion-fearless, a shirt with a built-in fan.
                • Or, if you're patient, you can wait until solar-powered air conditioning becomes available.