Money & Career

4 ways to end the thermostat war in your house

You want to save on electricity, but it's not easy when the summer days get hotter and your partner keeps cranking the AC.

thermostat in summer air conditioning

Photo, iStock.

It starts on the first warm day of summer; my husband runs around the house slamming all the windows shut then turns the thermostat to full-on snowflake setting. And I, when he’s not looking, turn the temperature right back up then crack open all the windows. It’s the first thermostat battle of the season — and this tug of war lasts all summer long.

Where I live in Ontario, 21 percent of households can’t agree on what the temperature should be set at, according to a Direct Energy survey. It’s the third most common household dispute, right up there with who’s going to clean the toilet (27 percent) and who gets to control the TV remote (28 percent). And a lot of us have turned to stealth tactics to deal with the problem; 16 percent admit they’ve changed the temperature when their partner isn’t looking (guilty as charged).

Jacking up the air conditioning costs money and energy prices keep on going up, which means that one family member’s addiction to icy-cold temperatures is going to hit the family finances harder come end of summer. According to Direct Energy, every degree below 25 degrees Celsius will increase your energy bill by three to five percent — eek! — which is why it’s important to figure out a temperature everyone can live with.

To start, start trying these electricity-saving tips.

1. Set the thermostat

Install a programmable thermostat to match your schedule; when you’re not at home or in the evenings when it’s cooler, set the thermostat so it automatically shuts off. You can also opt to get a “smart” thermostat which learns your cooling habits and sticks to them.

2. Use ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to keep air moving. Make sure the fan blades are operating in a counter-clockwise motion, which pushes air downwards and maximizes cool air circulation. Bonus: They only cost pennies a day to operate!

3. Keep out of the sun

Remember to close all your drapes and blinds any time you’re not home — particularly if you have south or west facing windows!  It will keep the sun from heating rooms up at peak hours.

4. Shade your AC unit

Did you know that a shaded AC unit uses up to five percent less electricity than in the sun? By planting trees and shrubs around your unit, you’ll be able to cut your electricity use by up to 25 percent. Just be careful not to disrupt airflow — aim to have 24 inches around your unit.

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