Keeping Your Cooling Bills Under Control

Trying to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank? It may be time to replace your home air conditioning unit. Just like cars, newer air conditioners are built to meet greater efficiency standards. As of 2006, the minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) required of a new cooling unit is 13.0, compared to 10.0 in the nineties.

What does that mean? According to the Department of Energy, switching from a 10.0 SEER unit to a 13.0 (and many of today’s models are even more efficient than that) will cost you about 15 percent more up front, but will give you 30 percent more cooling per watt consumed. So chances are, an upgrade will save you money. If you decide to go for it, be sure to get multiple estimates, and make sure you get a unit that’s the right size for your space–an air conditioner that’s too big or too small wastes energy and ramps up your bill.

The ways your house or apartment is equipped to keep in the cool air, with insulation, air sealing, moisture control and ventilation, are also important factors in efficiency. They can make a big difference in your energy bill for cooling and heating, so it’s worth considering a home inspection and weatherization. Thanks to the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, low-income households can apply to have their homes serviced for free. Households served by WAP have seen their annual energy bills decrease by about $437 on average. The government also offers tax credits on the purchase and installation of energy efficient appliances and energy saving services (such as home insulation or qualifying roof installations). Whether or not you qualify for the WAP assistance, you can find more information on the DOE website, or the Energy Star site, where you can search for home energy inspectors by state.

Whichever one of these you try, please let us know what kind of difference you see in your energy bills. If all else fails – the pools are open.