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As the summer months are upon us, you will be using your air conditioning much more frequently. Naturally you will see a spike in your electric bills, but with a few smart maneuvers, you can minimize costs. Here are just a few ways to be more efficient, a benefit for the planet in addition to your wallet.

Clean Air Filters

If you haven’t changed your air filters in a bit, that is one of the first things you want to do. Clean filters allow the unit to function more efficiently. When they are really clogged and dirty, the air conditioner has to work harder—the harder it works, the more energy it uses and we know what that means for your utilities bill. You can clean the filters you have now, but if they are really dirty,purchasing new ones for a few dollars is the way to go.

Be Smart with the Thermostat

Ideally the temperature should be set at 78 degrees when you are home and 80 when you aren’t. This small change can save as much as 20 percent on your bill. There are many different types of thermometers that allow for automatic temperature settings, relieving you of the task of manually adjusting, which you will likely forget to do.

Saving On Your Air Conditioning Bill

Ceiling Fans

Using a ceiling fan can be a huge boon for energy savings. The enhanced circulation of the air can make it feel much cooler, even if the thermostat is set to a higher temperature.

Keeping Out the Sun

Even though we are well aware the sun heats the earth, we may fail to appreciate how much it can heat up the interior of our house. On windows that face the sun, use shutters, blinds or drapes, or at the very least window treatments that filter out at least part of the light. This will give you the added benefit of protecting the rug and furniture from fading.

Clean and Clear the Area Around the Unit

Make sure the area around your unit is clear of any debris, leaves, trash and anything else that could obstruct it and compromise normal functioning. There should also be at least several feet of clearance between the unit and plants, bushes and other growth.

Protecting from the Heat

Your unit should have some means of shading, whether it is natural means like tree or installing a cover. The US Department of Energy notes an AC unit can be 10 percent more efficient with proper shading.

Attic Ventilation

A properly ventilated attic can make the house up to 10 degrees cooler…that is a significant difference and would allow for running your air conditioner at a much higher temperature. You can use a box fan as an exhaust to get rid of hot attic air for extra benefit.

Cutting your air conditioning costs does not require you to sacrifice the coolness and comfort. It is simply a matter of educating yourself on ways to use it more efficiently and applying the tips consistently.