Ways to save money on your air conditioning bill

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - With the extreme heat that's been hitting the area lately, everyone wants to find ways to help trim down on the cost of staying cool.

Duke Energy says the A.C. can account for between 50 and 60 percent of your power bill in the warmer months of the year.

Paige Layne with Duke recommends turning the thermostat up when you leave to save money.

"Bump it up a few degrees when you leave your home," Layne said.  "And then when you come home then you can bump it back down."

Layne warns not to turn the A.C. up too much or turn it off completely when you leave.  She says that will make your air conditioner work too hard when you come back home, which can wind up costing you more than you saved while you were away.

Layne also recommends using ceiling fans to help save money.

For instance, if you're going to sit on your couch for a while and there's a ceiling fan above it, you can use the fan and turn your A.C. up.

"You can generally set you thermostat about 4 degrees higher if you have a ceiling fan in the room," Layne said.  "The ceiling fan's going to create a windchill, so you get a breeze and it cools you off.  It's a very small amount of energy to run the fan."

Layne also says to try to avoid using your stove, oven, dishwasher, and dryer during the hottest part of the day.  She says they all give off a lot of heat that makes your air conditioner work much harder.

Layne says if you need to use them, try to wait until after the sun goes down and it's cooler if possible.

She also says new compact fluorescent lights (the curly style of light bulb) can save you a lot of money, especially in the summertime.

Incandescent light bulbs give off a lot more heat than the compact fluorescents.

"[Incandescent bulbs] are competing against your air conditioning system," Layne said.

Layne also says it's important to close your window blinds and curtains, especially if they're covering a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight.  If the blinds or curtains are open, it can let in a lot of heat.

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