Tips to Use an Air Conditioner Effectively + Save Money


Everything is getting more expensive. The food we eat, and even the air we breathe!

Assuming you’re getting your air cooled down for you, of course. So here are some tips on how to use an air conditioner effectively and hopefully save you some money.

I’ll break this down into different types of air conditioners, so feel free to skip ahead to the type you use.

How to use an air conditioner more efficiently

Free (mostly) tips
Buy a programmable thermostat
Install a ceiling fan
Create shade around your home
Keep the area around your compressor clean
Keep the area around your compressor clean
Adjust your thermostat
Turn off anything that produces heat
Close window coverings

As you probably know, your heating and cooling bills typically make up at least half, and often more than half, of your total utility expenses. At least that’s what the Department of Energy reports. So it only makes sense to try and find ways to stay comfortable without going broke.

Before we even get to tips for your air conditioners, let’s talk about things you can do beforehand to help alleviate some of your costs.

The best part about many of these tips is they won’t cost you any money!

Buy a Programmable Thermostat

Having a thermostat you can program to your schedule can reduce your energy costs. Especially if you have a predictable schedule. Simply set it up to adjust temperatures when you’re away from home. During the summer months you could set your temperature higher during the day when no one was home, but adjust for when you’re on the way home.

Install a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling Fan used with AC
Use a ceiling fan with your AC

A ceiling fan will help circulate air across your skin, making you feel cooler. If you use one in conjunction with your air conditioner you can typically set your thermostat a little bit higher.

Of course, you’ll want to turn your ceiling fan off when you’re not at home.

Create Shade Around Your Home

Hedges or large, shady trees placed to the south and west of your house will help to reduce heat gain inside. This means you don’t have to work your air conditioner as much.

Keep The Area Around Your Compressor Clean

Anything that makes your air conditioner work harder will end up costing you more money. So keeping the outdoor unit free of any sort of dirt or debris will help towards that goal. This means the surrounding area as well as inside.

You can follow this DIY guide on how to clean the inside of your compressor.

Clean And Clear Your Indoor Vents

Make sure all indoor supply and return vents are free of any type of obstruction. This means not blocking them with furniture. Also regularly vacuum dust from your supply vents to ensure steady airflow.

Adjust Your Thermostat

Do some testing to see if you’re still reasonably comfortable after adjusting your temperatures up a few degrees in the summer. Of course, if you have the programmable thermostat mentioned above, you’re probably already adjusting for times when you’re not at home.

Turn Off Anything That Produces Heat

You especially want to do this if you have heat-producing appliances close to your thermostat. But it’s a good idea during the summer to minimize the use of lamps or appliances that produce heat because the result will be your air conditioner working harder.

Close Window Coverings

closing blinds
Keep blinds closed while the sun shines to reduce heat gain

If you don’t have window coverings on south or west-facing windows already, invest in some. And then keep them closed while the sun shines against them. This will reduce heat gain in your home.

Now let’s move on to the air conditioners themselves.

Using Your Central Air Conditioning Efficiently

Central AC efficiency tips
Inspect your ductwork
Change or clean your filters

Probably one of the best things you can do to ensure your central air conditioner is running efficiently is to have it regularly maintained, but here are a few more tips.

Inspect Your Ductwork

Dirty, dusty, leaking ductwork will impact the efficiency of your system. It’s also a good idea to insulate any exposed ductwork.

Change Or Clean Your Filters

Clean filters mean your system can achieve maximum airflow, which translates into higher efficiency rates. Dirty filters will do the exact opposite and not only impact efficiency, but possibly damage your system.

Portable Air Conditioner Efficiency

Portable AC efficiency tips
Size matters
Choose location wisely
Proper venting
Keep filters clean

Portable air conditioners are very popular, and they come with their own efficiency tips.

Size Matters

Before you even purchase a portable air conditioner make sure you buy the right size for your space.

Choose Location Wisely

Don’t place your portable air conditioner anywhere close to heat sources. This could be electronics, appliances, or direct sunlight.

Proper Venting

For your portable unit to run efficiently, it must be vented properly. Make sure that all hoses are connected properly to the back of the unit and via the window kit. Also, try to keep the hose as short and straight as possible to provide maximum cooling.

Keep The Filters Clean

Your unit likely has a washable air filter that removes dust from the air. At least once during the summer season, wash the filter with warm water, and if necessary mild detergent. Then rinse and dry it thoroughly before returning it to the unit.

Window Air Conditioner Efficiency

Window AC efficiency tips
Buy the right size
Choose the right window

Window air conditioners tend to be more efficient than portable air conditioners, but they do share many of the same efficiency tips.

Buy the Right Size

When shopping for a window air conditioner be sure to buy the appropriate size for your space. While a larger unit will cool your room quicker, it’ll also cycle on and off more often and use more energy.

Choose The Right Window

If you’re in an apartment building you may have no options available to you. But if possible choose a window that faces either the north or the east. Either of these directions will mean less direct exposure to the sun and its heat.


Depending on what type of air conditioner you have, efficiency tips will slightly vary. However, the free tips mentioned above are relevant regardless. To recap, they are:

  • Buy a programmable thermostat
  • Install a ceiling fan
  • Create shade around your home
  • Keep the area around your compressor clean
  • Clean and clear your indoor vents
  • Adjust your thermostat
  • Turn off anything that produces heat
  • Close window coverings

Make sure to incorporate some or all of these into your summer cooling routine, and hopefully cut your expenses at least a little bit.

While you’re here, why not check out our related posts below. Maybe we can assist you with something else.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more