5 tips to reduce your air conditioning bill while on vacation

When you go on a summer trip, you might be tempted to turn off the air conditioning to save on your electricity bill. But as outside temperatures soar, it can lead to an overheated and excessively humid home you’ll dread returning to.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your home cool. With a little help from technology ranging from blinds to smart thermostats — and a minimum of planning — you can turn off the light and spend your holidays without worrying about energy prices.

Below are seven tips for saving money on air conditioning in your home when you go on summer vacation. With them you can relax, unwind and reduce your electricity bill.

Read more: 7 quick tips to save money on your gas, electric and water bills right now

Use a smart thermostat

Smart Thermostats Take the guesswork out of scheduling your home’s heating and cooling. When you go on a trip, activate the thermostat’s vacation mode. Vacation mode adjusts the temperature for you, making it warmer while running the air conditioner at regular intervals. Some of these units even use motion sensors to detect when you’re away and make temperature adjustments for you, reducing energy costs while you’re away and making your home comfortable when you return.

If you set a higher thermostat temperature while you are away, it may reduce your energy costs substantially. The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher for at least eight hours a day. This allows you to save up to 10% energy on your air conditioning bill.

Set manual thermostats higher

If you don’t have a smart thermostat, you can maximize efficiency by setting your manual thermostat 5 degrees higher than you normally would. Letting your home get too hot could cause damage (think your houseplants) and wipe out energy savings by making your fridge and freezer work much harder. Of course, you will come back to a warmer home, but you will also significantly reduce your energy consumption.

Close the blinds

Another way to reduce energy costs is to keep your windows shaded when you’re away. It helps block the sun’s rays, which warms your home through heat gain. This, in turn, prevents your air conditioner from going on more often, which leads to more energy consumption.

Aim for medium color shades with white plastic supports. The Department of Energy says these blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 33%.

Install window awnings

Another way to reduce stress on your air conditioner is to add window awnings to your home. Window awnings are exterior blinds that block the sun’s rays from penetrating your windows and entering your home. Awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 77% on west-facing windows and 65% on south-facing windows. The Department of Energy recommends choosing one that is tightly woven and opaque.

Use a dehumidifier

If you live in an area with higher humidity, consider supplementing your air conditioner with a portable dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers work by drawing in moist air, absorbing the moisture through a water-absorbing material, and then circulating drier air through your home. The result is a more comfortable home that will depend less on your air conditioner.

Read more: Everything you need to know to buy the best portable dehumidifier for your home

And after

Before you go on a trip, consider inspecting your home’s HVAC unit. Technicians will examine your air conditioner to make sure everything is working properly. If they notice any problems, they can make repairs before you leave.

It’s better to fix problems early instead of going back to an AC unit on the fritz. And, by operating your system in optimal conditions, you can maximize its efficiency.

In the meantime, if you have a smart thermostat, consider integrating it into your smart home system. Many units partner with Amazon-Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and more, allowing you to control your temperature, locks and lights from a single hub. This allows you to maximize energy efficiency and keep your home safe, even if you are thousands of miles away.

Do you have a portable or window air conditioner? Follow these suggestions below to save money on your energy costs.

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