$122. That’s how much the average American forks over each month the power company.
According to the U.S. Energy Department, your air conditioner is the hungriest part of the bill: 42 to 56 percent of your electric bill is due to your A/C, the Energy Department said.
You can take some simple (and not so simple) steps to reducing your electric bill.
INSTALL WINDOW SCREENS
Hot, ultraviolet light is you're A/C’s worst enemy. One of the easiest ways to block is an ordinary window screen.
By some estimates, everyday window screens can block as much as 40 percent of UV rays. That decrease in UV could keep your home cooler and give your A/C a money-saving break.
REPLACE THE AIR FILTER
There’s nothing new here: Change your filter every 90 days.
Ignoring the filter is not only a possible hazard to your health, it’s a drain on your wallet. Dirty filters restrict air flow, demanding more work from your air handler and compressor. Every second the A/C is spinning costs you money on your electric bill.
And worse? You could be driving you air conditioner to an early grave if it’s running too much.
ADJUST THE TEMPERATURE
It’s a (modern) age-old question: Do I leave the A/C on or shut it off when I leave for school or work? The definitive answer is: compromise.
The energy efficient consensus is to leave the A/C on when you're gone, but set the thermostat up a few degrees. Your home will heat up (saving you money), but the A/C won't have to seriously chug like it would if you turned it off completely.
The ideal answer is a programmable thermostat.
Although these wall-mounted computers cost $50 to $250 each, they can pay for themselves. The Environmental Protection Agency says homeowners who have programmable thermostats cut their power bills by $180 per year.
They work. But here’s a warning: You’ll only save money if you follow directions.
Government scientists say some people who buy programmable thermostats actually waste money with them because the unit is not properly programmed.
Follow the instructions that came with the thermostat or contact the manufacturer for advice in setting it up.
The EPA has produced a video to help consumers. It’s online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K3heGhjh90&feature=youtube_gdata
Finally, you can take matters into you own hands.
We scoured the Internet for power-cutting and money-saving solutions. We found some very inventive, video camera-clad penny pinchers in cyberspace.
One suggestion on YouTube tickled us so much we built the five-gallon bucket air cooler ourselves.
This eight-month-old video has been watched 2.8 million times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxSLbpAwibg
The ‘secret’ is a jug of frozen water. I'm not even going to bother describing it. Just watched the video, folks!
The project took 15 minutes to complete and cost about $15. This unusual contraption seemed to cool the air a bit. However, I’m reasonably sure it will not become a fixture in my home – after all, the Lowes logo clashes with my wife’s decor.