Cutting cooling costs by becoming energy efficient

Air conditioners are vital in the summer, but it can cause summertime budgets to become tight. An easy way to reduce cooling costs is to increase your energy efficiency.

By installing curtains and awnings, homeowners can prevent sunlight from heating houses which in turn, keeps the air conditioning working less.

Another easy implementable suggestion to keep costs down is installing a programmable thermostat that changes the temperature as people go to work. Does a house need to be 70 degrees when no one is home?

More efficient windows and insulation can literally help save energy from slipping through cracks.

"There's no sense in air conditioning your neighborhood," said Patrick Murphy, director of Notre Dame's Office of Sustainability. "The better insulated your house, the less money you're spending on air conditioning."

While a central air conditioner is usually more efficient than window units, there are exceptions.

A house that has four window air conditioning units may seem like it uses more energy. However, if two of the units are turned off in rooms that aren't in use, it can be more efficient.

It takes energy and money to turn hot, humid air into cool, refreshing air. Although many keep indoors escaping the heat, they may also have old, inefficient air conditioners.

By checking the SEER of central cooling units, it can also cut costs. If a unit has a SEER rating of 7 and it's replaced by a unit with a rating of 14, it can cut cooling bills in half.

Although advancements have been made in making coolant more environmentally friendly, the most widely used fluid has been found to be a greenhouse gas, meaning it will be replaced in the future.

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