(WTOL) - Remember when an electric bill used to be $30 or $50 dollars a month...even for a good sized house?
These days, if you have central air conditioning, your bill can be $200 or more!
So we have 5 simple tips to lowering that cooling bill this summer.
High Cooling Costs Hitting Families
Kelly Green says everything is costing more this year, and one of her biggest increases, next to gasoline, is her utility bill.
Kelly says "Our electric bills have been going up. Ours is outrageous right now. Basically everything going up."
The cost to keep Kelly's home cool keeps climbing...with electric rates nationwide up more than 25% the past 5 years.
So to help trim those bills, we turned to an expert: air conditioning specialist Jamie Gerdsen....of Apollo Heating and cooling on Tennessee Ave in Cincinnati.
Jamie took us through an older home to show us some simple tips for cutting your cooling bill.
1. Change Filter Frequently
A dirty air filter, he says, makes the a/c work much harder than it would with a clean filter, which means you pay more.
So his Tip #1: Change your a/c filter every 30 days in summer ...not 60 or 90 days, which is normally recommended.
2. Bump up the Thermostat 2 Degrees
We then head upstairs to the next best way to lower your bill....the thermostat.
Jamie says if you dont have a programmable thermostat yet, buy one.
And that leads to his Tip # 2: Turn up the temp: Each degree cuts your cooling bill 3%.
And he says program it to warm the house up 2 or 3 degrees when youre gone.
Jamie tells me "try to keep your thermostat between 76 and 78 degrees in the cooling months and set it back for 8 to 9 hours when you're at work."
3. Use Ceiling Fans to help A/C
With your a/c set a bit warmer now, Jamie brings us to Tip #3: Turn on ceiling fans to feel cooler.
They cost just $3 to $5 a month to run, compared to more than $100 per month for a 2 ton sized central air unit.
4. Close the Drapes, Dummy!
Then we go to the living room for Tip #4: Close drapes and blinds where the sun comes in. Jamie says yes, its obvious, but he finds many customers don't do it.
He says"you want to block out the sun, hence lowering the cost of your energy because you won't let as much heat in."
5. Clean up your Compressor
And tip #5: Jamie says check your central air unit outdoors. He says you should make sure there are no leaves blocking it, and wash off the cooling fins every year because dirty fins makes it run harder.
In addition, he says make sure its shaded from the sun. If not, he says, plant some shrubs around it.
One last thing:
One final piece of advice: Gerdsen says do not turn your a/c off completely when you leave your house for the day. If the house gets up to 85 or hotter, it can take at least 8 hours for the compressor to cool it back down.
That's a lot of wear and tear on the compressor and your wallet, so don't waste your money!