How to Save Electricity on Central AC Units

A technician can help you maintain your unit.

A technician can help you maintain your unit.

While a state-of-the-art central air conditioning system would be the ultimate solution to saving money, you don't have to go to that extreme. Instead, you can work with your current system to make a difference. Things such as preventative maintenance, system monitoring and common sense can help you save a smile-worthy amount of money.

Set your thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit when hanging around your house. Set it at 85 degrees if your house is deserted. You can save 1 to 3 percent on your electricity bill for each degree you increase your thermostat above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep air moving, leave ceiling or room fans on in each room.

Cover south-facing windows with blinds to keep heat out of your home during the day. The more heat that passes through the windows, the more your AC system will cycle.

Replace air conditioner filters every 30 days during seasons of heavy use, such as summer. A dirty air filter can block air flow and cause your AC system to run longer than it should, which uses more electricity and increases your bill. In other seasons, check out your filter every month for buildup. If you don't see any, don't change it.

Call a technician to give your AC a tune-up every year in the spring. The technician can do things to keep your central AC system in tip-top shape, such as checking the thermostat, tightening loose parts, lubricating moving parts and checking the condensate drain.

Seal the ducts that transfer the air to and from the central AC unit to save as much as 20 percent on your cooling costs. Duct-sealant or metal-backed tapes works well to seal the seams and connections of ducts in your attic, crawlspace, garage or basement. Wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them cool.


  • Purchase a programmable digital thermostat, if you have trouble remembering to raise the temperature before you leave home. According to information on the Energy Star website, a properly used programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 per year. (See Reference 3)


  • AC filters need to be changed a minimum of every three months, if they stay clean. Remember to eyeball your unit's filters every 30 days in case you need to swap it out for a new one. Don't neglect your duty and let dust and dirt build-up in the system, or you may end up with unwanted maintenance or repair issues.

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About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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