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Ways To Save On Air Conditioning Bills When Triple Digits Hit
Many Of you may be wondering this very question specially this week and next as we prepare for a record breaking heat wave so early in the summer season. Well here is a great little bit of advice from NV energy.
Question: Is it cheaper to intermittently run an air conditioner as opposed to running a 2-by-2 foot square fan continually? What's the best way to stay cool and save this summer in Reno?
Answer: Remember Chevy Chase (Ty) in “Caddyshack” asking Danny Noonan, “This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia, is it?”
When Reno temperatures hit triple digits, as they are predicted to this weekend, I ask a question with similar frustrated repetition: “This isn’t Las Vegas. Is this Las Vegas? This isn’t Las Vegas, is it?”
Kathy proposes a different question when Reno temperatures mimic Las Vegas heat: How do you stay cool and save?
According to Chris Lynch, director of the University of Nevada, Reno business environmental program, running a fan continually will “produce less of a cooling load, but even running all day it will use less electricity and therefore be cheaper.”
Chad Piekarz, NV Energy customer and education consultant, agreed: “Air conditioning condenser is rated in tons of cooling load and for every ton you can expect 3,000 watts of energy to be consumed versus a floor fan that requires roughly 100 watts of power,” he said in an email. “A 1,200-square-foot home would characteristically have a three-ton condenser or 9,000 watts of energy required to adequately cool inside. So, the floor fan will be cheaper to run, but will produce much less cooling load.”
Lynch and Piekarz said there are myths about intermittently using central air conditioning units. One of them is whether to turn off, or down, air conditioning while away from home. Lynch said leaving the thermostat at 85 when away from home, 78 at home, is the best bet to stay cool and save. The savings from having the temperature at 85 will outweigh the cost of restarting the system and daily turning the temperature back to 78, he said.
“The most efficient way to set a thermostat in Northern Nevada is in a conservative pattern allowing temperatures to rise and fall depending on when the building is occupied or unoccupied,” Piekarz said.
Making sure your air conditioning system has been serviced once a year by a professional contractor and changing return air filters once a month is recommended, he said.
If you are looking for alternatives to air conditioning systems, Piekarz suggested indoor evaporative coolers, which are sold at local retail stores and range from about $130 to $400.
“Some indoor evaporative coolers can adequately cool 200 square feet at 100 watts, which is extremely affordable and highly efficient,” he said.
If that doesn't work, there's always Reno's most cost-effective heat escape: a daylong visit to Lake Tahoe