With student loans piling up, the threat of global warming and electricity costs being jacked up in my municipality, I need to be mindful of how I'm using my electricity. As summer approaches, it's the perfect opportunity to benchmark my air conditioner until the fuse blows. Actually, maybe a vacation to Greenland would be more cost-efficient.
But seriously, we should all be mindful of how we use electricity as most of the world is using not-so-environmentally-friendly energy production means. A mere 11% of the country's electrical production comes from renewable sources, meaning that our individual usage should go down until we begin to move towards a 100% sustainable situation.
Air conditioning is seriously going to be the death of us all.
I'm not exaggerating and we all should be panicking. Since AC is one of the main electricity hogs in the United States, it contributes over 100 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Its usage is especially exaggerated in hotter parts of the country and in tropical countries around the world, making it more than just a seasonal issue.
To put things into perspective, your air conditioner likely uses between 3000-5000-watts. A normal lightbulb might be a mere 13-watts, which is hundreds of times less. You can leave all the lights in your house on for days and it doesn't compare to what the AC is draining from the world.
Fortunately, the HVAC industry realizes this and is focusing on making more energy efficient products. While scrolling through those central air conditioner reviews, be mindful of the energy efficiency ratio and decide what capacity you need for each room.
But, your fan just isn't good enough.
It's no secret that fans use a tiny fraction of what AC uses but you will be hard-pressed to feel satisfied in the middle of a summer afternoon. If you are in your home all day, you will likely need that fan running at all hours, which is sapping up electricity and your patience.
An air conditioner with a sufficient amount of strength for your room should only need to kick in at cycles of around 15-minutes at a time for the hottest hours of the day. You may then briefly use your fan at night and eschew touching the AC remote control and your day should be bearable.
I think my plan will be to solely use my box fan for the first several days of Summer to see how well I can tolerate such a primitive lifestyle. I will then slowly permit myself to use the AC during the peak of the afternoon or when I need to get some work done on the computer, and heat kills my creativity.
There are some old-fashioned tricks, like pushing hot air out the windows with fans or using damp curtains, that I plan on experimenting with. Taking advantage of night air by opening the window is also efficient to leave the bedroom nice and cool in the morning.
With any central air system, having a well-adjusted thermostat is a huge factor for energy efficiency. There are programmable or smart thermostats so it runs all day and kicks in when there is a real demand for cooling. Of course, you may also adjust it manually if you are able to micromanage when you need it at a certain temperature, which is ideal if you are only using the AC for a few hours a day.
Overall, the most important part of your AC's efficiency is having one that works properly in the first place. Apart from calling in the HVAC guy, you need to make sure you have the right type of thermostat and use the right tools and procedures indicated by the manual. If you are clumsy with technical stuff, just pay extra for a professional before you shock yourself.
I think it will tough to reduce my electric bill this summer, especially since my husband will have to suffer through it with me. If any of you are also trying to be more efficient this summer, share your strategy down in the comments.