5 Ways to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bill – Now!

Summer is here, and with it often comes sweltering heat, high humidity – and the near-constant operation of air conditioning equipment. Electric kilowatt hours consumed to power your cooling units do accumulate quickly, and as a result your electric utility bill may careen out of control unless smart measures are taken to manage costs.


Here are five tips for keeping your air conditioning bill reasonable, without having to sacrifice too much in the way of comfort and convenience:



1. It all starts at the thermostat.


78 degrees is the sweet spot setting where energy efficiency and acceptable comfort intersect, for most folks. Yes, 72 feels nicer, but the U.S. Department of Energy says those six degrees will cost you close to 20% in cooling costs. Remember: the smaller the differential between outdoor and indoor temperatures during the cooling season, the lower your bill. Programmable thermostats pay for themselves by reducing your cooling costs when you’re away or asleep.



2. Be a fan-atic.


Those in Northern climates know the term “wind-chill effect,” when 30 degrees feels like 20 due to the feel of moving air on the skin. Wind-chill works the same way with warm air, so get a cool feeling by moving the air in your home with fans. That 78 degree thermostat setting can feel like 72 degrees with fans creating a cooling breeze. Turn fans off to save energy when you leave the room, of course.



3. Avoid generating heat inside.


How? Your clothes dryer, oven, and dishwasher are prime culprits. Air-dry clothes, cook on the grill or in the microwave oven, and hand-wash dishes, and you’ll give your cooling system a break, while taking your share of pressure off the electric utility grid at the same time. Use large-wattage appliances in the evening, if possible. Even TVs and computers generate heat, as do incandescent light bulbs (90% of their energy is given off as heat).



4. Inspect and maintain the equipment.


Cooling units work harder when their filters are clogged with dust and grime. Cleaning and/or replacing an air conditioner’s filter can cut cooling costs by 10-15%. Registers for central air systems should be kept clear of dust, and unblocked by furniture. Check the central air system’s outdoor condensor/evaporator coil unit to make sure branches, leaves, or other debris don’t block air flow.



5. Windows: let the sun shine in?


In a word, no. Bare window glass permits not just light (both visible, and harmful UV) to enter a building; it also transmits heat. Cooling costs for any building with glass can be cut significantly through the installation of a quality window film product, performed by a window film professional. Keeping curtains and shades drawn on any window will also reduce solar heat gain inside the home.


5 Common Misconceptions about Window Film

The popularity of window film is increasing, but many consumers still aren’t sure if window film is the right choice for them. Window film has been around since the 1970’s, and while there have been major innovations in the industry, many people may have an idea or image about films stuck in their minds that isn’t accurate.


To give consumers a clearer perspective, let’s take a closer look at five of the most common misconceptions about window film.



1. Window film is expensive.


Not true. One of the benefits of window film is that it’s much more affordable than installing new windows, but offers many of the same benefits. Professionally-installed solar control films can also significantly reduce cooling costs for homes and commercial buildings. Determining exact energy savings can be difficult because many factors contribute to energy use such as the fluctuating cost of fuel, amount of direct sun exposure, type of film installed, etc. However, typical payback in energy savings is usually 2–5 years, sometimes less.



2. Window films turn purple.


Not anymore. While this may have been true in the early 1980’s, when you commonly saw cars with windows that had a purple hue due to the discoloration of tint. The technology behind today’s automotive films is more advanced including developments in metal deposition methods, color extruded base materials, and specialty coatings. With proper installation of quality films, that type of discoloration is very rare.



3. Window film is too dark.


False. Window films come in a variety of light transmissions, allowing buyers to customize the amount of light they want for the space. Even the lightest films still block up to 99% of harmful UV rays. With today’s technology, many window films can block a significant amount of heat while still allowing in 60-70% of the visible light. With the help of a professional dealer, the buyer can decide which shade will offer the look and protection they wish to achieve.



4. Window Film is not designed to last long.


Incorrect. Window film is manufactured with longevity in mind. In fact, many window film providers offer a warranty of up to 15 years for commercial installations, and some residential and automotive window film applications come with a warranty that lasts as long as you own the house or car.



5. Window film causes glass to break.


Only in rare cases. Adding solar control film to glass increases the glass temperature, but properly chosen film installed correctly will not cause the glass to break. There are, however, some factors that can contribute to the rare case of glass breakage including the amount of external and internal shading, glass size and shape, and previous glass breakage history. Experienced dealers are able to make the proper film-to-glass recommendations, minimizing the risk of glass breakage. Many also offer limited warranty protection for properly applied installations.


Safety Benefits of Window Film

While window films are commonly known to extend the life of windows, reduce glare, and lower cooling costs, there are other several other important benefits to consider— the safety benefits. Window films can offer protection against the risk of personal injury and property damage in the case of accidents, severe weather, crime, and in some cases, even explosions.



Accident Protection


Security films are designed to offer protection from broken glass during an accident inside your home, office, or car. When glass breaks, the shattered pieces pose a serious danger that can cause severe injuries, and in some cases, death. The films are engineered with a powerful adhesive that reduces the hazard of broken glass and keeps the pieces together, safely attached to the film.



Crime Protection


Glass windows and doors are the easiest way for criminals to gain access to your home or business. With the popular smash and grab crimes, the intruders count on the fact that the shattered glass will allow them to enter the property quickly and leave just as quickly. With certain types of security films, the glass isn’t easily penetrated, even when struck by a heavy object. And if they do manage to break the glass, it won’t shatter so the thieves often become discouraged and move on to an easier target.



Protection from Natural Disasters


When a powerful storm moves through a neighborhood, town, or city, strong wind gusts can rush inside homes and offices, causing serious structural damage, even collapsing structures from the inside. Specially designed security films prevent the glass from shattering, keeping the wind, rain, and flying debris out during storms and other natural disasters. By holding the glass together, these films minimize damage caused to your property, as well as prevent potential injuries to people nearby. And, since severe weather can happen at any time, with little or no warning, security films provide passive protection 24/7.



Protection from Explosions


Research conducted after explosions, points to flying and broken glass as one of the main causes of death or injury. In fact, a single square foot of glass can produce up to 200 deadly, razor-sharp fragments. While nothing can completely protect against powerful industrial explosions, bombs, or other catastrophic events, some highly-specialized security films attached properly to the window frame with patented anchoring systems have been proven to be effective in reducing the risk of glass breakage.