8 Hot Ways to Lower Your Summer AC Bill

There are three little words that strike fear into the hearts of desert-dwellers every year: Summer. Electric. Bill. Just when you think it’s safe to click or tear open your statement, the temperature outside goes from bake to broil and your utility bill threatens to incinerate your savings goals.

Hilarious heat wave Tweets aside, you probably won’t be laughing if your monthly electric bill this summer costs more than a new car payment. Thankfully, you can take control of your crazy-high cooling costs.

Let’s start with a few of the quick and cheap ways to lower your AC use:

Turn up the Heat:

This one’s obvious, but the lower you set your thermostat in summer, the more you’ll pay in electricity costs. SRP estimates that you could save 2-3% of your bill for each degree over 80. That savings could really add up when your summer electric bill is $300 or more.

Of course, you’ll want to be smart about when and how you make this change. The health and safety of people and pets should be a priority. Set your thermostat to 85 while you’re away, and then lower to your comfort level as needed when you and your furry friends are home (for most pets, that’s 75-80 degrees).

Lightbulb icon

Pro Tip: If you don’t already have one, install a programmable Smart thermostat. This way, you can pre-set temperature controls throughout the day and have the ability to change them remotely.

Fan Yourself:

Ceiling fans do wonders to make a warm room feel more tolerable. Rather than turning your AC down every time you’re sticking to your leather couch, switch on a ceiling or stand fan. They don’t do much to cool the actual room temperature down though, so flip the fan switch off when you’re not there.

Change Your Filters:

Dirty air filters make it harder on both you and your air conditioning unit. Your HVAC system can’t operate at full effectiveness, just like your lungs will have to work extra hard to filter out all the extra pollutants that could be coming in from your filthy filter. Plus, let’s face it – dirty filters are just gross!

Home Depot recommends changing cheaper fiberglass air filters every 30 days. Pricier pleated air filters can last up to six months, but if you have pets or live in a large city with high pollution (Hello, dusty Phoenix!), changing more frequently is recommended.

Set Your AC on “Auto” Pilot:

Switch the setting on your thermostat from “ON” to “Auto” for a quick savings boost. On this setting, your fan motor will only engage when it’s time to cool the place down, rather than remaining constantly in motion. SRP estimates you’ll save $15 to $25 per month just by making this one quick adjustment.

Close the Blinds:

Closing your window curtains and/or blinds reduces the amount of sunlight and heat streaming into your home. It’s easy to do, and won’t cost you a thing assuming you already have window coverings installed. Sure, you might feel like a vampire, not having a $500 summer electric bill might be worth it.

If you’re looking to corral your out-of-control air conditioning bill even more, there are several options that cost money up front, but may save you a lot in the long run.

Have your HVAC Serviced:

If you’ve raised your thermostat, shuttered your windows and done all you can to cut down on energy consumption and your bill still seems too high for your space, then your equipment could be the problem.

Before scrapping your HVAC system for a more efficient model, have an expert come and take a look at your system. Think of your AC like a car: If your trusty Toyota was hogging gas or running slow lately, you probably wouldn’t rush out to get that shiny new Lexus — at least not yet. Same idea. As a general rule of thumb, have your home’s AC system inspected and tuned up every few years to make sure things are running smoothly and efficiently.

Get a New Unit:

Regular maintenance can only do so much if your AC unit just isn’t efficient. If you’re looking to upgrade your system, pay attention to the SEER ratings, which tell you how efficient an HVAC unit is. To give you an idea, a 16 SEER system uses 13% less energy to cool your house down to 78 degrees, versus a 14 SEER unit of similar size. Older systems may have a SEER rating of 6 or lower. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Energy Star’s list of recommended central air conditioners.

Install New Windows:

If you are constantly faced with larger than typical electric bills, your windows could potentially be a problem. Energy efficient double-pane windows are much better at keeping heat out and cool air in than older single-pane models.

Not able to foot the bill for new windows right now? Make sure to check your window seals for leaks in the meantime, and caulk any problem areas as soon as possible. Adding protective shade screens and weather stripping can also help trim energy leakage costs.

According to SRP, about 51% of your home’s summer power bill comes from cooling. Not a shock, considering Phoenix-area temps are already in the hundreds by late May. Even outside the Valley, seasonal heat waves can wreak havoc on your comfort — and your wallet. By following our eight tips, you’ll be able to keep your cool, and stay frosty, without breaking the bank!

The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.