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From the Magazine

5 Tricks for Keeping Your House Cool for Less


Running the AC accounts for up to 70 percent of our utility bill in the summer. To the rescue: these easy ways to cut costs and beat the heat at the same time. 

Boost AC efficiency by keeping it running.

Surprise: Shutting off your air conditioner doesn’t always save you money! Your AC requires a ton of power to start up, so rather than turning it off completely every time you leave the house, then back on when you return, it can be much more efficient to leave it running, explains energy analyst Matthias Alleckna of Simply turn up the thermostat a degree or two if you’re going to be gone for two hours or less. You’ll optimize savings: Studies show for every degree warmer your home is, you’ll save an average of five percent on energy costs.

Produce less heat with smarter bulbs.

“Incandescent bulbs only convert around 10 percent to 20 percent of their energy to light — the rest is largely released as heat,” says energy expert Doug Keller. Simply switching to LEDs or CFLs, which convert nearly 90 percent of their energy to light, will make your home feel at least two degrees cooler on average. Bonus: LED and CFL bulbs can save you $100 on energy bills over the life of the bulbs!

Lock in cool air with a draft blocker.

Insulation doesn’t just help keep your home warm in the winter, it keeps cooled air in during the summer, saving you an average of 15 percent on utilities, says Alleckna. Just pick up an insulation kit, such as Froth-Pak Sealant ($333.85, Amazon), to easily shore up drafts. Simply spray it on any areas like joints, cracks or gaps between windowsills and the wall where cold air tends to seep out, let it dry and voilà — instant cool!

Save 10 percent on utilities with window film.

Covering west-facing windows, which get the hot afternoon sun, with an SPF film can lower your home’s internal temperature significantly, says Deborah Knuckey of sustainable energy company Renewables Practice. SPF film, such as Gila Heat Control Residential Window Film ($28.79, Amazon), adheres right to panes. Since it’s clear, it won’t block your view but will keep out UV rays and infrared heat, lowering the temperature in your home by 15 degrees or more and saving you 10 percent on cooling costs!

Conserve energy by optimizing fans.

“Fans can make you feel up to 10 degrees cooler,” reveals Alleckna. While the average central air system uses about 3,500 watts, a floor fan uses only 100 watts and a ceiling fan a measly 15 to 90 watts — just three percent of the energy of central air. Also smart: Consider placing a stand-alone fan near an AC vent to boost its range by 25 percent.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine. We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.

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