Aside from vacations, longer days and spending time in the great outdoors summer brings with it oppressive heat resulting in large segments of the population blasting the AC.

This often translates into long hours of high energy usage which, depending on how much its relied upon, has a tendency to become routine throughout the warmer months.

Since AC spikes power usage more than most other things in the home the combined usage of an entire population creates massive demand for electricity forcing power plants that run on fossil fuels to burn more. This in turn results in additional fumes which pollute the breathable airspace and on hot, hazy, and muggy days when the air is stagnant in urban areas a serious health threat arises to anyone with respiratory problems.

Nevertheless to get hundreds of millions of people in cities like San Diego or New York to suddenly cut back on air-conditioning when it’s the only thing they feel brings relief from the heat isn’t an easy task. Sometimes state and federal weather agencies issue warnings about air quality and how one day will trump another in terms of temperatures and energy usage but the fact is most of the time the warnings don’t translate into much change in how AC is used.

It seems like when it’s warm outside we’ve learned to turn on the AC like we put milk in coffee (or sugar in tea if that’s what you prefer) and it’s become a routine, one that needs a little adjusting.

That being the case here’s a few points where we can make a difference in our AC usage and hopefully pass some of the tips on to others to do the same.

The AC unit itself

First of all it’s important to focus on the air-conditioning unit itself because whether its a window unit or central air system there are plenty of ways to save energy while enjoying it. For instance:

  • If it’s a window unit make sure it’s sealed on all sides so air does not escape the room.

  • If it's a window unit and more than a few years old chances are it could be replaced for a better energy saving model.

  • In either a window unit or central air system changing/cleaning filters will provide better efficiency.

  • Put the AC on a timer so it’s not working when not necessary. A prime example is if you turn it on when going to sleep have it set to go off about an hour later.

  • Use the AC in the room you are in and not as a means to cool the entire home so if possible close the door to the room it’s in instead of letting it run all night.

Use fans

Cutting down on energy usage and trying to stay cool means using fans, particularly ceiling fans, as they utilize significantly less amounts of electricity.  While they may not ‘cool’ the air like an air-conditioner they usually provide a comfortable breeze that for most people would pass the ‘I need some relief’ test.

Trying out a fan a little bit at a time is a great way for avid users of AC to wean themselves off the air-conditioning system.

Blocking the sun

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the reason why people use AC is because its too hot in the home but if steps are taken to cut down on some of the outside influences which create that heat it may relax the need for the AC.

A prime example is blocking direct sunlight, especially when it’s at it’s strongest in the late morning and into the early afternoon.

This can be done easily by pulling down the shades or closing the curtains. A future investment could be planting a tree to provide better shade.

Jakob Barry is a green living journalist for helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to carpenters and concrete contractors, Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional.

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Tags: AC, air, air-conditioning, central


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Comment by Perry Ning on July 5, 2013 at 6:01pm

Hi Adam, The new video link works.  I actually watched the whole video.  Very interested.  Ductless or mini split is the way to go.  

Comment by Adam brown on July 5, 2013 at 9:01am

Looks like that link did not work, but below is the url to the video I am suggesting to watch 

Comment by Adam brown on July 5, 2013 at 9:00am

Totally agree! Portable units should only really be used in drastic cooling demands! Best suited for commercial server rooms, and not mention very noisy for the home!! 

Click here to a video on the latest energy efficient systems. 

Comment by Perry Ning on July 5, 2013 at 8:36am

Good points.  Also when weather gets hotter AC efficiency drops.  That means more electricity is turned to heat by the AC.  For a portable AC this heat is added to the room that has also to be removed. See my post in this forum : or for details.

Comment by Tom Delconte on June 28, 2013 at 9:52am

Jacob: excellent discussion! It'd be great to add something about humidity control, since it must be kept at 40% plusminus 10% during all seasons to prevent growth of mold & other stuff. I'm presently doing this with a secret setup.

Comment by Adam brown on June 27, 2013 at 10:39am

Hi Jakob 

Very informative post on AC usage, using the system economically is vital.

What you will find is that much of the latest systems, have 3D sensors which can sense no occupancy and actually isolate outdoor unit energy consumption, not just standby, but neutralising outdoor pcb power supply.

I agree though, your suggestions of sunlight blockage should be addressed first, making for a smaller duty unit if required, keeping with low energy usage!! 

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