In the past few weeks, the National Weather Service has issued heat monitors, as well as warnings and heat warnings. From Boston to New York to Chicago, the combination of heat and humidity sent heat indexes in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. CBS News USA: CBS
reported over the weekend that “30 million people in seven states are in a sultry heat wave.”
The bad news: August, usually the hottest month of the year.
Extreme heat kills an average of more than 600 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – so you can hardly be blamed for turning on the air conditioning during this heat wave. But depending on where you live, this precaution can skyrocket your utility bills.
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Sunbelt nation residents typically pay the most for air conditioning in their homes during the summer, at an average cost of $ 292.90 per home, according to a recent report from energy management company Sense. This compares with an average cost of $ 147.82 for most of the country and $ 95 for communities along the northern border with Canada.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arizona leads the nation in terms of air cooling costs for the summer months ($ 477). However, New Jersey is the second most expensive state in the country ($ 327), thanks to a combination of above-average air conditioning usage and high utility costs in the Garden State.
Other expensive states for air conditioning are Texas, Florida, and Georgia. At the other end of the spectrum, Washington State had the lowest air cooling costs in the country, followed by Oregon and Colorado. “When you buy your home, make sure you get an estimate of the estimated cost,” said George Zavaliagkos, vice president of technology at Sense.
Sense’s report was based on energy data from more than 4,000 customer households, specifically analyzing 1,600 homes with HVAC systems in the U.S. to see how much residents spent on cooling their homes between June and August 2018.
While geographic location plays an important role in deciding how much a household will pay for air conditioning, the size of the home also plays an important role. Residents of a 500-square-foot home pay an average of nearly $ 68 in the summer months to keep their home cool, while those who live in a home larger than 4,000 square feet pay over $ 226 in the summer can count.
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Here are some ways consumers can reduce the cost of air conditioning whether they live in Arizona, New Jersey, or Washington.
Check the settings on the device: Every degree colder you turn the air conditioning on will cost you in the long run, but temperature isn’t the only setting consumers should be concerned about. “Some people leave the circulating fan on all the time,” said Mike Phillips, CEO of Sense. “The fan itself uses a lot of power.” Recirculating fans can also cause cool air to escape the house, causing the system to work harder to keep the temperature down.
Regularly checking the settings is also important to ensure that the device is working properly. One consumer told Sense that his home’s HVAC unit malfunctioned, triggering the reheating system (intended as a backup on extremely cold winter days) in the middle of summer.
Change your behavior at home: Leaving blinds or curtains open when direct sunlight comes in through a window will increase the internal temperature of the house. Likewise, cooking on the stovetop inside instead of the grill outside can drive up cooling costs.
Also, make sure the air conditioners are in good working order by regularly cleaning the ducts, replacing filters, and making sure the air can flow freely from the vents.
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Make sure you are the right size for your home: An oversized HVAC system uses a lot of power to drop the temperature quickly and can switch between on and off frequently, driving up energy costs. In the meantime, an under-sized air conditioner could be forced to run constantly to keep the house at the desired temperature.
To illustrate this, Sense compared two 1,500-square-foot homes in similar climates. One house has a 240 volt central air conditioner while the other has individual 120 volt window air conditioners. The residents of the first house paid $ 898 for air conditioning over the summer, while the residents of the second house only paid $ 138.
Replace old air conditioners: Air conditioners lose about 5% in efficiency every year, Phillips said. “If you have a 20 year old system, it probably doesn’t work that well,” he said. This inefficiency drives costs up. In addition, newer devices are designed to be more energy efficient, which is likely to bring additional savings.
Have your utility company do a home inspection: A utility house inspection is free in most states, Zavaliagkos said. Inspectors can check that the electricity meter is working properly and that the air conditioner is working properly. They can look for leaks in the system that could be wasting energy and money.
This story was updated on August 19, 2019.