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Adjust Your Air-Conditioner Settings

Follow Tips to Stay Cool and Save Money

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Air-conditioning money

Taking the time to adjust air-conditioner settings can save you money.

© Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

If you've got one or more air-conditioning units in your apartment, have you looked at the settings? Chances are, your units have more than just an on-off switch. Settings such as fan speed, auto, and timer can help cool your apartment more efficiently, which means lower electricity bills.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the settings on your air-conditioning units. Even if you're missing the instruction manual for a unit, its controls should be self-explanatory.

Follow Air-Conditioner Adjustment Tips

Many people don't use all the features their air-conditioners have to offer. But adjusting settings can let you stay as cool as you need to be while also saving you money.

Although the number and types of settings on air-conditioning units vary, chances are you can take advantage of at least some of these money-saving tips:

  1. Check the fan options. Many units offer three fan settings: high, medium, and low. If you're used to keeping your air-conditioner on high, try keeping your unit set to medium or low and see if it's enough to keep you cool.

  2. Look at the direction of the vents. If the vents are pointed all the way toward one side, move them to face the center. This should help direct the cool air outward into the room.

  3. See if there's an auto, energy saver, or smart fan button. The standard way to set air-conditioning units is to adjust the temperature (using either a warm-to-cold dial or a precise digital display) and the fan setting to your liking. But modern units offer ways to cool your home effectively while utilizing less energy and saving money. Look for buttons that read auto, energy saver, or smart fan and then see if running your unit in a different mode works for you.

  4. Inspect the filter. If your unit's filter is dusty or dirty, the unit won't operate as efficient as it should, meaning you'll spend the same amount of money for less air-conditioning. You'll probably also get less cooling, and the extra wear and tear on your unit may damage it. Many modern units have an indicator light that goes on when it's time to clean the filter. But if you think your unit isn't working well, a visual inspection of your unit's filter should tell you whether it's the culprit. As a rule of thumb, check your filter before the start of the summer season and at least once a month during continuous use.

  5. Set the timer. When it's hot outside, there's nothing better than returning home to an apartment that's well air-conditioned. But if you're gone all day, it may seem like overkill (not to mention a waste of money) to run the air-conditioning while you're out. Look for a timer or hours button and set it for the amount of time you want to pass before the unit turns on.

    For example, say you leave your apartment at 8:15 a.m. each day, stay at work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and then get home at 5:45 p.m. Before you leave, set the timer for nine hours. This way, your air-conditioner will stay off while you're at work but will automatically turn on during your commute at 5:15 p.m., cooling your apartment in time for your return.

    Don't have a timer? Don't sweat it. If you feel you must keep your air-conditioning running while you're gone, try raising the temperature setting on your unit five or so degrees and lower the fan settings while you're away.

    Got pets? Even if you have a timer, if you've got pets in your apartment, leaving the air-conditioning off all day might leave your place too hot for their comfort. If you decide you need to keep your units running because of pets, don't use your timer. Instead, consider raising the temperature setting and lowering the fan settings a bit, as appropriate, to save money while still accommodating your pets' needs.

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