Keep Cool For Way Less Cash - 8 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bills

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Summer is in full swing around here and while it hasn't even been as stiflingly hot as last year, there are still days where firing up the air conditioner seems like the only way to cope. 

But so far, we've (mostly) resisted. 

We have some strategies for keeping cool that don't mean huge electricity bills. Here are eight simple ways to help you minimize your monthly bills without compromising your comfort.

Become a Fan-fan
It is cheaper to run a ceiling fan than the AC. Sure, in the past they were tragically un-hip looking – but you might be surprised at the good-looking fan selection today. A fan can cost less than 1 cent an hour to operate(!), versus 14 cents an hour for a window AC Unit and 36 cents an hour for a Central Air Unit.   You might even find coupons for them.

Remember that fans only work when you're in the room to feel them (the air movement must be felt by you to create convection cooling and evaporation) - so like ceiling lights, turn them off when you leave the room.

Sometimes it's hard to have the windows open for a cool breeze.  We swear by this style of  fan - especially given our frustrating neighbour.  He likes to sit on his deck and smoke a variety of things.  As a result, one side of our house is held hostage - we can't open the windows or else our home fills with the stink of smoke.  Window fans to the rescue! We point ours out towards his house - and then the breeze gets pulled from the other side of the house - without the odours.

Turn it Up
If you run your AC – put it up a couple of degrees – if you’re wearing long sleeves, the temp is set way too low. It’s summer, you should still be wearing summer clothes indoors. The Ontario Ministry of Energy (OME) suggests a temperature of 25C when home and 28C when away.

Set it and Forget it
Invest in a programmable thermostat (many utility companies have an incentive for you to purchase one). If you’re at work or on holidays, don’t be paying to cool your home. Set a program that works for you, put the temp up when you aren’t home, and save.

This device will continue to pay off year-round and many you can control remotely if you forget to change it before you go on a trip - we love our NEST.  And more coupons!

Save it for Crazy Days
Look ahead at the weather forecast and consider running the AC only on the mega-hot days. And if the forecast calls for cooler evenings, try this:

  • Open the windows at night (to let cooler air in) and keep them closed in the day (to keep the hot air out).  
  • We accelerate the process by putting window box fans in key locations around bedtime and pumping the cool air in. Remember to open another window to vent the hot air out and you'll have a good sleeping temperature in no time.

Plan Your Day with Heat in Mind
Live like they do in warmer countries by flipping your schedule a bit – take downtime between noon and 5 pm when the day is at its warmest (Afternoon nap? Yes please). Get up early and/or stay up late to take advantage of cooler mornings and evenings. Landscape with Sun in Mind
Still determined to run your AC? Plant a tree – making sure your external unit is shaded can save up to 10% on your cooling bill.

While you’re at it, plant a few more trees and reap future benefits of shade on your yard, your house and (eventually) your wallet - the net effect can be up to 35% savings. Here is an infographic to help you plan - future-you will be very happy.

Sunblock for your House
Sure, window coverings are pretty – but they can also keep you cool.

Block out the sun, especially when it’s streaming into the windows and turning your home into a greenhouse. By reflecting the heat back outdoors, you keep your indoors cool.

Pay special attention to the south-west side.

Go below
If you have a basement space, think about spending more time down there. Hot air rises so you should go in the opposite direction. Maybe an air mattress in the cellar will give you a better night sleep on a really hot night.

Go Public
Visit air-conditioned public spaces – many are free - libraries, malls, grocery store freezer sections, museums. Google "Cooling Center" and your city's name to find one near you.

Try some Body Heat Hacks
Extremely (35C+) hot? Here is a list of Dubai travel tipsGizmodo also has some ideas (and also some myth busting):

  • How about a slightly damp top sheet on your bed. Too extreme? 
  • Maybe just wrap an ice cube in a cloth and move it from wrist to wrist. 
  • Drink water and sit still. Very still. 

  • We've shared tons of Money Saving Tips, you can find them here.


    1. I love these tips! It's so funny because I just did a post about how we moved downstairs for the summer :)

      1. Great minds, Kelly! ;) Love that idea of a subterranean move for the summer. :)

    2. We don't have central air in our current house (and don't plan to). We employ some of your suggestions but we are lucky to have an exceptionally shaded house and it does make a huge difference- it often is 10*C cooler at home and find ourselves overdressed when we go to town. Mind you, there are still those exceptionally hot days when the house heats up after many days and nights of hot, humid weather. We find relief downstairs- my daughter's room is downstairs, as is out family room but we have a couple of foam mattresses for sleepovers, that we use when it's just too hot to sleep upstairs.
      But it been fine this summer, even on rather hot days, most nights have been cool.
      Another trick we've used since we replaced our furnace last fall- the new furnace allows the fan to be turned on independent of the furnace. We can switch on the fan and cool air from the basement blows upstairs. It feels just like air conditioning as it blows through the registers. It works very well.

      1. What a great tip about using your furnace fan to blow cold air upstairs! Genius! Thanks for sharing that, Cred. :)


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