Consumer Reports’ GreenerChoices.org recently published a helpful list of “9 Ways to Cut Down on A/C Use.” Most were no-duh tips, such as use awnings, plant more trees, use fans, etc., but I thought the first three were useful advice that I didn’t know before:
1. Use your A/C wisely. Installing an air conditioner in a shady spot could increase its efficiency up to 10 percent, according to the Department of Energy. … Don’t lower the air conditioner’s temperature when you turn it on. It won’t cool the room any faster, but it will use more energy. On humid days, set the fan speed on low to remove more moisture from the air.
2. Delay the chores. Your dishwasher, washer, and dryer give off heat when they’re in use, so run them in the early morning or late evening. Your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to offset the heat produced by the appliances. Other benefits: Running those appliances during off-peak hours reduces the stress on the power grid, helping to prevent brownouts. You might also pay less for the electricity if your utility charges less per kilowatt-hour during nonpeak hours.
3. Change the lightbulbs. Much of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is emitted as heat. During the day, turn off lights that are unnecessary. Also consider replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. They use about 75 percent less energy and give off 75 percent less heat to produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs. Switching from a 100-watt incandescent bulb to a 25-watt CFL can save you as much energy a year as switching from a standard air-conditioner to an Energy Star model.