Living in Arizona can be amazing. We have beautiful mountains, hundreds of miles of trails, and we’re close to all kinds of exciting getaways. And although our weather is spectacular most of the year, for about 3–4 months, it can be a little overwhelming.
Now we have to contend with APS’s plans to raise their rates about 8%, meaning that it’s going to get more expensive to live in the Valley of the Sun.
Granted, the changes are just in the talking stage now and shouldn’t increase until next summer, but it’s not something any Phoenix-area resident will look forward to.
Summertime highs in the 110s and even 120s keep our air conditioners working overtime from June through September, and the monsoon season doesn’t help matters.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do now to help reduce your A/C usage and cut your bill.
Living in the desert, our first choice might not be to add landscaping, but some well-placed plants can have a significant impact on your cooling bill.
Since a house’s heat increases in relation to the amount of sunlight beating down on it, when you can minimize its exposure, you’ll see your energy usage decrease.
A tree that shades your home may be an expensive investment, but it will likely pay back dividends over time. And if your air-conditioning unit is on the ground, shield that with some shrubs. According to the US Department of Energy, putting trees and shrubs around the unit could increase its efficiency up to 10%.
Windows might be great for letting in natural light, but they’re horrible for heating up your home.
Installing solar screens can cut back on up to 70% of solar energy before it enters your house. It’s best to add these to your east- and west-facing windows, says the US Department of Energy, although in Arizona, south-facing windows might be good to cover as well.
You can also try window films, such as the kind used on car windows, to cut back on some of the heat. A word to the wise: Have these professionally installed to reduce bubbles and bumps.
Program Your A/C
Installing a programmable timer on your air-conditioning controls is perhaps one of the easiest, cheapest, and smartest ways to cut back on your energy usage. Most people are at work during the hottest part of the day, so increase your home’s temperature when you’re away.
If you’re on an energy-saving plan through APS or SRP, consider keeping your home closer to 80ºF during the day and much cooler at night. You’ll cool the house considerably overnight, which will help make the mornings much more enjoyable. Remember that if you have pets, they need to be comfortable too, so set your thermometer accordingly.