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Air Conditioners: How to Cut Running Costs in Half

In today’s world, most people have invested in one form of an air conditioner or another. We have either window air conditioners in our homes or central air conditioners.

They keep us cool in the extreme summer heat without fail; however, have you ever set back and looked at the costs of running an air conditioner? When compared to the common household fan the amount of electricity required to run an air conditioner is phenomenal.

When using an air conditioner there are many different factors that can directly affect the cost of running it. These factors include the geographical location of your home, where you live and the amount of work the air conditioner has to do greatly influence the cost. If you live in an area that has mild summers and extremely cold winters, obviously your air conditioner will not have to work as hard. However, if you live in an area, that has warm winters and boiling summers the air conditioner will have to work double time to maintain comfort.

The difference in weather conditions from year to year will affect the costs as well. This is basically geared towards the difference in costs per year. One summer might be cooler than the next, which will lead to a greater bill.

The efficiency rating of your air conditioner plays an important role in the amount of electricity used. Most all appliances in today’s world are rated, when you purchase an air conditioner it will have a tag telling you the amount of electricity that appliance uses. Look for air conditioners that use minimal electricity, which will save you money each year. If you have a model that is 10 years or older, it is definitely time to consider a new one.

Another important factor is the size of the air conditioner versus the house-cooling load. All air conditioners come in different sizes, and each will state the amount of space it is designed to cool. For example, an apartment could do with just one or two window air conditioners, while a three-bedroom house could not. Closely consider the amount of space you need to cool when considering an air conditioner. While larger air conditioners will cost more money, it will typically save you money in the long run on usage.

The setting on your thermostat greatly effects the cost. A higher setting will result in the air conditioner running less, while lowering the setting will cause it to run more often. One electric company suggests keeping the thermostat above 78 degrees. This can save you 10 to 20% on cooling costs.

Finally, the local cost of electricity influences the general cost of running your air conditioner. This is something you have no control over, however, you can control your own cost by saving energy.

Here is a general look at the difference of running an air conditioner vs. running a Ceiling or oscillating fan, at medium speed.

Running a central air conditioner that is three ton (and of average efficiency) for 8 hours per day for 15 days per month, with the average rate per kWh (kilowatt per hour) being 0.17, the average cost per month for the air conditioner alone will be $97.92. Amazing isn't it? This does not even include washer, dryer, lights, refrigerator, or stove, only the air conditioner.

On the other hand, running a ceiling fan or oscillating fan at medium speed, for 8 hours per day, for a full 30 days, at an average rate per kWh of 0.035 is only $1.43. With this comparison you could run 68 fans for a full month before you would reach the cost of the central air conditioning unit.

There are many other things you can do to lower you electric bill. Things such as, inspect, clean, or replace your air conditioner filters monthly. When you are not in your home, raise the temperature on your thermostat, keeping in mind pets when you do. Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wash only full loads in your dishwasher or clothes washer, and use the energy saving cycle on the dryer.

Other steps you can take include, replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lamps, this could save up to 75% on lighting costs. You should also caulk all windows, doors, and pipes to prevent air leaks in or out, use weather stripping around windows, doors and pipes as well. Have your ducts tested for air leaks; leaking ducts can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner by up to 20%.

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