Be Cool: A Guide to Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning

The dos and don'ts of air conditioning.


Content Tools

In the average home, air conditioning consumes more than 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, costing the average homeowner $1,350. Air conditioners use about 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States, cost homeowners more than $11 billion, and release roughly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. This summer, save precious energy by adhering to these simple dos and don’ts.


• Install window fans or a whole-house fan, which pulls cool air through the house and exhausts warm air through the attic.

• Plant leafy trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units; shade can mean a 10 percent reduction in the amount of electricity an AC unit uses.

• Clean or replace air conditioner filters once a month and keep both the indoor and outdoor coils clean.

• Keep the house tightly closed during the day and ventilate at night.

• Delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until the evening on hot days.


• Place lamps or TVs near your air-conditioning thermostat, because it will sense the appliances’ heat and run longer than necessary.

• Leave computers, TVs, and VCRs turned on during long periods of non-use.

• Set your thermostat lower than seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit.

• Use bath and kitchen fans when the air conditioner is operating.

• Use a dehumidifier while the air conditioning is running; it increases the cooling load and forces the air conditioner to work harder.