Mother Earth Living

Be Cool: A Guide to Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning

The dos and don'ts of air conditioning.
By Natural Home Staff
May/June 2001
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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.

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