It’s official: this summer is the hottest on record for the U.S. Whether you live in sunny Los Angeles, muggy New York, or sultry Tulsa, OK, which had 18 days over 100 degrees last month, you’ve likely been feeling the heat. And if you’re like most of us, you’ve seen your electricity bill go up as you crank up the AC.
More Americans have air conditioning than ever before, especially in the Midwest and South. And yes, the AC uses a lot of power: window air conditioners can use around 1500 watts of electricity, and a central AC unit can use about 3500 watts. In warmer locations, air conditioning can account for up to 70% of your summer electric bill.
How solar power makes a difference
Even when you can’t stand to live without your AC, you can still save money. The answer? Solar panels. The summer’s a great time to get the most power from your solar panels—longer days mean more hours of sunshine. As the sun shines and the heat goes up, the solar panels will be pumping out electricity. For many families, having solar power means they can cover most or all of their electric needs, including air conditioning, themselves.
The savings from solar can add up quickly. It’s not uncommon for air conditioners to push electric bills higher by as much as $50 (or more!) in the summertime. Going solar also means you can feel less guilty about staying cool. When you’re tied to the grid, running an air conditioner means running dirty fossil-fuel based power (ironically, though its job is to make you cooler, an AC is contributing to global warming and even hotter summers in the future).
Saving even more money on air conditioning
Once you have solar power, you can take your savings a step further by using some energy-saving tips with your AC. Turn up the temperature a few degrees—you won’t really feel the difference, but your electricity use will drop. 78 degrees, or higher, is good to aim for. Every degree you go below 78, your energy use will go up 3-4%.
Fans also help; run a ceiling fan along with your AC, and you’ll feel cooler at higher temperatures. A fan takes 70 times less energy to run than an air conditioner. When you head out to work, turn the AC temp up even higher to save energy while you’re gone. It takes less energy to cool your home down when you return than to keep it cool for hours while no one’s there. Pulling shades to keep out the sun also helps. With these tips, you may be able to completely cover your electric
bill with your own solar power (depending on the size of your solar system, you might even make a little extra power).
Interested in finding out how you could go solar? We’ve got full details on solar rebates and solar tax credits (check out the info for your location, to the right), and we can help you get a free estimate for solar power. Sign up here to learn more.
Last modified: September 5, 2012