If you’re a cat and it’s 90 degrees outside, you’d visit the hottest room in your home, and pick a cozy spot in a blazing sunbeam to stretch out and snooze. You certainly wouldn’t want your human to turn on the air conditioner because you LOVE the heat.
On the other hand, if you’re a human, you’d probably find the hot weather stifling and stuffy. You’d look for the coolest room in the home, and bask in the refreshing breeze of the fan or air conditioner running at full blast. But during the hottest days of the year, home cooling is one of the largest uses of electricity in your home.
Approximately two thirds of American homes have air conditioners, and collectively these cooling units use close to 5% of all the electricity produced in the U.S. This adds up to 100 million tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year or an average of two tons per home. In addition to the environmental cost, air conditioners cost homeowners over $11 billion each year to run them.
(Source: Energy Saver, U.S. Department of Energy)
Here’s what it costs each month to run your air conditioner:
- Central Air Conditioner (3500 W) – $245 per month
- Large Window Unit (1440 W) – $100 per month
- Medium Window Unit (900 W) – $62 per month
- Small Window Unit (500 W) – $35 per month
Estimates are based on a rate of $0.14/kWh, with the unit running 16 hours/day. (Source: comfort-pro.com)
As you can see, it can be quite pricey to cool your home especially if you live in a hot climate. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your costs, save electricity, and naturally keep your home cooler.
1. Time the opening and closing of blinds and curtainsIn the morning, keep all east-facing windows covered. Once the sun has moved higher in the sky, these windows can be uncovered.
In the late afternoon and early evening, close the blinds and draw the curtains for all west-facing windows. Depending on the time of year and how the sun shines in your home, you may need to do this for south-facing windows, too.
If you have slat blinds, angle the slats upwards to cut down on the amount of direct sunlight entering the room. And if you’re thinking of installing blinds, consider cat-friendly options that are also better for the planet:
- Roller blinds made from eco-friendly materials
- Slat blinds with cloth tape manufactured using greener processes
- Honeycomb style blinds made with OEKO-TEX-passing fabrics; honeycomb blinds also help to insulate windows, saving you energy in both the summer and winter
For all blinds, keep string cords away from your cat. You can use a nail in the wall to hang a cord out of reach. For roller blinds, anchor the chain at the bottom so that it doesn’t look like a cat toy and is also safer for small children. And if your kitty absolutely must have a sunbeam to bask in, open the window covering just enough to let in some sun, but keep the majority of the window covered to maximize the cooling effect.
2. Take advantage of nature’s air conditionerOpen your windows at night and close them during the day to let cooler air in at night and keep warmer air out during the daytime. If you can, create a cross breeze to cool down your home faster.
This works particularly well in western states such as Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona where the nights are often much cooler than the days.
3. Program your thermostat–with a twistSet your thermostat at the highest temperature that you can tolerate for the hottest time of the day. When it’s sweltering outside, that’s when your air conditioner is working the hardest to cool your home. It’s running more often.
And because the cold air blasts on longer, this makes you feel cooler so you can turn up the temperature and still feel comfortable. It’s like at wintertime when the heater turns on and you feel warmer because of the heat coming from the vents.
And while you’re adjusting the thermostat, why not consider setting it two or three degrees higher overall? Your cat will love basking in the heat. Just be sure to keep her water bowl topped up during the hot summer days.
When you cut back on running the air conditioner, you reduce carbon emissions and save big on energy costs. Imagine all the cat treats you can buy with the money you save!