Unless you live in a region where summer is brief and temperate, you will have to rely on your air conditioner in the summer, and those bills can add up, especially if you don't own an efficient AC system. But there are some things you can do to mitigate the high costs of cooling your home, and though most of these methods will cost you a little bit of money, the savings you realize will pay for itself in a few months.
Inspect the Ducts
Most homes are equipped with what is known as a ducted AC system, which refers to the ductwork built into your walls that allows heat and cold to flow through the vents in your home or flat. At least once a year, you should have an HVAC (heat/ventilation/air conditioning) contractor visit your home to inspect the ducts.
One of the reasons that your AC system may be inefficient is that there may be a leak in your ducts. Leaking ducts allow cool air to escape, which means less of that air flows through your vents, forcing your AC to stay on longer and work harder to lower the temperature. Sealing your ducts makes your AC more efficient, and allows the system to cool your house quicker.
Change the Air Filter
Although this seems like a simple thing to do, you'd be surprised how many people just don't bother to change their air filters for years at a time. Air filters are responsible for trapping dust, dirt, debris and pollen, so that these items don't clog up your ducts and blow through your vents.
A clogged air filter can't do its job, which means that dirty air will circulate through your AC system, which can result in dirt and debris accumulating on the evaporator coil. In addition, a dirty air filter decreases the amount of cool air that flows through your home.
Most HVAC contractors advise that you change your filter at least once every three months, although some may even suggest a monthly replacement during the summer, when your AC is operating on a more frequent basis.
Shading Windows and Weather Stripping
One of the other ways to cut your AC bill is to install the proper type of shading on your windows. Windows with no coverings will let in light, heat and harmful ultraviolet rays, increasing the interior temperature and forcing your AC to stay on longer to cool your rooms.
In addition to curtains and shutters, you can also invest in what are known as 'blackout' blinds, which are made from fabric and are thick enough to shout out nearly all outside light. Blackout blinds are effective when you need to completely shut out light, and the resulting shade lowers the temperature and helps the AC reach the desired thermostat number in a shorter period of time.
Weatherstripping is a DIY process in which you seal air leaks around the frame of your doors and windows with material such as felt, foam, self-adhering vinyl or heavy duty black rubber tape. Weatherstripping prevents hot air from entering your home in the summer, and keeps more cool air inside your home, which helps your AC work more efficiently.
For more tips or assistance, consult resources like Coolco Air Conditioning Pty Ltd.