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5 Ways to Stay Cool and Lower Your Air Conditioning Bill by Half

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Running the A/C in a typical home costs up to $250 a month. Fortunately, these pro air conditioning tips will keep you cool on-the-cheap!

Enjoy cooler air by opening all vents.

Do you close vents in rooms you’re not using to lower energy costs? Turns out, opening all vents saves you more money.

The reason: “Closing vents increases pressure in ducts, forcing air out of small leaks and into the crawl space or attic — which can cut total airflow through your home,” explains Allison Bailes, III, PhD, president of the residential HVAC design company Energy Vanguard. This reduces your system’s efficiency by about 20 percent, hiking up your bill. By keeping all vents open, your A/C doesn’t work as hard and you get more cool air going to the rooms you’re in.

Chill your home by creating currents.

When the temperature outside dips lower than the temperature inside (say, in the morning and at night), you can fill your home with free cool air. That’s key since every 60 minutes you keep the A/C off trims 55 cents from your bill-cutting it by up to $5 a day. Just place fans in first-floor windows, facing in, and open second-floor windows, says Don Vandervort from HomeTips. “This creates currents that push hot air out the upper windows.”

Slash energy usage by ushering out moisture.

The more humidity inside your home, the more energy your unit uses to chill the air. To give it a helping hand, turn on exhaust fans in the top two moisture-producing areas: the kitchen and bathroom. “Run the range hood fan when cooking and the exhaust in your bathroom during showers and for 10 minutes afterward to reduce moisture,” says Bailes. Then turn them off so you don’t send cool air outside.

Give your A/C a break with a fan plus salty ice.

Turning off your air conditioner and using a fan for just an hour a day cuts nearly $20 off your monthly bill.

That’s a smart switch since fans help you feel about 8 degrees cooler. For a frostier blast, place a pan of ice cubes sprinkled with rock salt in front of a fan. The ice chills the air as it passes over, and the salt slows the ice melt, boosting the effect.

Expel stuffy heat with pruning shears.

To get more oomph from your A/C, prune shrubs that may be close to the condenser — the unit that sits on the ground and releases heat from your home. An overgrowth of foliage reduces airflow, increasing energy consumption by 30 percent. Giving the unit plenty of room to “breathe” makes it easier to flush out heat from your home.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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