Optimize your air conditioner with these 5 money-saving tips!

It's been so brutal this that you've probably been tempted to turn your thermostat down as low as possible.

Maybe you even gave in to get that sweet relief from the cold air. That's nice, of course, until you get your electric bill in the mail. But you don't have to pay a high price to fight the heat in your home. Talking to the experts, we found out how people can increase the efficiency of their air conditioning this summer without having to spend more money. Read on to discover five cost-effective ways to boost your air conditioner's output.

1. Use your ceiling fans

Your air conditioner can benefit greatly from some outside help. To boost its output without increasing your energy bill, you should use your ceiling fans more often, according to Traci Fournier, an HVAC specialist and vice president of operations for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning. “The wind chill effect created by ceiling fans helps you feel comfortable without having to adjust the thermostat, which is also a great strategy for reducing energy costs,” Fournier explains. “Reverse the motor to move the blades counterclockwise to create a breezy effect in summer.” However, it's not just your ceiling fan that can help. You can also use floor fans or exhaust fans in your and bathroom to help circulate fresh air from your AC, Josh Mitchell, an HVAC technician and owner of AirConditionerLab, says. “Don't underestimate the power of a well-placed fan,” he advises.

2. Add more greenery

Another great way to maximize your home's cooling? Add more greenery. “ can block some of the sun coming in through the windows, which will keep rooms cooler throughout the day,” Fournier explains. You can also plant trees or shrubs outside to add shade around your air conditioner, Mitchell adds. “Shade helps keep your air conditioner cooler, reducing the amount of work it has to do to cool the air it draws in,” he shares. “Just be sure to keep plants at least two to three feet away from the unit to ensure adequate air circulation and easy access for maintenance.”

3. Install a programmable thermostat

Turning off your thermostat is an affordable upgrade that can really help you reduce your air conditioning costs without sacrificing its cooling capacity. Tom Allan, an expert heating, plumbing and appliance installer who is general manager of Easy Boilers, tells Best Life that he recommends everyone install a programmable thermostat, which could cost you as little as $20, depending on where you buy it. “With a programmable thermostat, you can set temperatures based on when people are at home or in the business, and turn the system off when no one is around,” Allan explains. “This will help reduce energy costs, while providing constant comfort when needed.”

4. Avoid cooking during hot hours

Make a conscious choice not to cook with your stove or oven during the hottest parts of the day this summer, Edmund Augustin, a maintenance and repair technician appliance at Fantastic Services, recommends. As he explains, “If there's extra heat generated inside your home, your air conditioner will naturally be forced to work harder.” By reducing the use of large, heat-producing appliances, you'll notice a significant difference in the cost of cooling your home. “Only use them at night when temperatures are cooler,” Augustin advises. “If you must use them during the day, turn on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to dissipate the heat.”

5. Change the filter regularly

One of the most cost-effective ways to increase your air conditioner's output is the one many of us forget to do: change the filter. “Keeping air filters clean helps your system run optimally and more efficiently, allowing it to reach its maximum cooling capacity,” said Jeff Ault, a virtual HVAC expert for Frontdoor, says. Not only that, but neglecting this task can also strain your system and potentially damage it, leading to costly repairs, Augustin warns. “So don't forget to clean or replace air filters regularly,” he says. “This should generally happen every one to three months, depending on how often the unit is used.”

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