Set your thermostat to 78° or higher. Each degree below 78° can increase your energy consumption by 6 to 8%.
Use ceiling or portable fans instead. Fans move the air and make the room feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler and will use much less energy than the air conditioner.
Keep windows and doors shut tight. Going in and out of the house repeatedly will make your air conditioner work harder.
Block the sun. Close blinds or drapes on windows that directly face the sun.
Make sure your air conditioner is clean. Washing the outside coils and clearing high grass and debris around the unit will prevent blockage of the air flow.
Refrigerators & Freezers
Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. Every time you open it, cool air will rush out and be replaced with warm air, causing the refrigerator to run more to stay cool.
Keep it full. Refrigerators and freezer actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (with bottles of water if nothing else).
Dishwashers & Clothes Washers / Dryers
Only run dishwashers and clothes washers when fully loaded. This will save water in addition to electricity. Use cold water for laundry.
Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher. Using the heat-dry setting can also heat the kitchen, causing the air conditioner to run more.
Use at night. Running dishwashers and clothes washers / dryers at night will keep the house cooler and reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and reduce the chance of an emergency.
Lighting & Other Electrical Equipment
Turn them off. Turn off lights, TVs, and other equipment when you leave a room. You'll save electricity and generate less heat, meaning the air conditioner will run less.
Use power strips. Even when turned off, electronics and other home office equipment continue to consume electricity when plugged into the wall. Shutting off power at a power strip will eliminate this standby electricity consumption.
Use power management tools. Set monitors and computers to switch to sleep mode when idle for more than a few minutes. This will not only use less energy, but will also run cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning. Turn machines completely off at a power strip when not in use.
Energy Efficiency Tips Reduce Lighting Costs
Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75% less electricity and produce 90% less heat.
Install & Use a Programmable Thermostat
Set it to raise the temperature during the day when you're not home and to cool the house down before you arrive home. Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use.
Check your ducts to see if there are any leaks, and seal them with mastic tape if needed. Caulk and weather-strip doors, windows, and pipe clearances to save as much as 10% on cooling costs.
Properly Maintain Your Air Conditioner
Check air filters once a month and replace at least every 3 months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder. Have a licensed contractor inspect and maintain your air-conditioner in the spring or fall to make sure it is running efficiently. If your air conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models. Ensure any new unit is properly sized and correctly installed. Bigger is not always better.
Ventilate & Insulate the Attic
Proper ventilation reduces the temperature and moisture buildup which can cause the air conditioner to work harder. Proper insulation with high R-value insulation will keep more cool air in the house.
Adding trees and shrubs on the east, west, and south sides of your house can cut your cooling costs.
Consider Energy Cost When Buying New Appliances
When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.
Improve Your Windows
If your home has single pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows or adding solar shades or tinting film.