I was standing there in the darkness of my living room around 2 a.m. – with Alan Cathy humming on the windowsill (that’s the nickname of our air conditioning unit) – when I felt this pang of guilt. It was one of those moments where your face goes red, though there’s no one around to see it.
Perched on a chair near the A/C was an oscillating fan, which I was using to gently relay the cooled air towards the ceiling fan in our bedroom. I’d thumbtacked a sheet across the doorway leading to the kitchen and had spent a third of my afternoon trying to sort the proper combination of slanted doors and fans to cool our house during this hellish heat wave.
I’m certain I’d managed to develop the least energy efficient and expensive method for cooling my home – and I felt responsible for small contribution to global warming.
When Energy Bills Boil Over
Spiking energy bills are a common occurrence in the summer months, as are complaints of blackouts spurred by thousands of buzzing A/C units.
In fact, according to Toronto Hydro, the cost of summer cooling can account for half of your annual energy bill!
Fortunately, there’s no need to get hot under the collar; there are plenty of ways to weather these intense bouts of heat without breaking the bank.
Tip 1: Optimize Your A/C
Turning the thermostat on your air conditioner up a degree or two can make a big difference to your air conditioning bill. According to Toronto Hydro, running a central air unit for 24 hours at 21 degrees Celsius would cost $8.51 for electricity versus $7.60 if run at 25 degrees.
As well, inspect and clean the filters and coils on your unit and, if possible, place the unit in the shade.
Tip 2: Time It Right
If your A/C has a programmable thermostat, set it so that it turns the thermostat up or off during peak hours (weekday afternoons from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) when you’re not at home.
Keep the windows, curtains and doors closed to prevent the A/C from working harder than it needs to. You can also try improving the insulation in your home by replacing weather-stripping and sealing air leaks. The attic is a good place to start.
If the temperature goes down at night, toss on the ceiling fans – they use 10 per cent of the power that central air requires. If you don’t have them, they cost around $600 to $1,500 including installation.
If you’re looking to buy an A/C unit, pick one with a season energy efficiency ratio around 17 or higher to get the most for your money.
Tip 3: Keep It Covered
When it comes to insurance, unfortunately your A/C is not covered for basic wear and tear. However, if extreme weather (much like we’ve seen as of late) has damaged your central air unit – your policy might come to your aid. You can, however, purchase specific policies geared towards protecting your heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Check with your insurance provider for specific details.