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Electric company expert issues warning about behaviors that could surge your energy bill: '[It] can cause your air conditioner to work twice as hard'

The less work your AC has to do, the more money you save on your power bill.

The less work your AC has to do, the more money you save on your power bill.

Photo Credit: Instagram

As the weather begins to warm up, more and more people across the U.S. will be turning on their air conditioners. This technology is key to making overheated homes comfortable, but it's expensive to run, accounting for 19% of the energy use in homes and 14% in commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

One Instagrammer has a list of ways to cut back on your AC use, which will save you money and reduce the environmental impact of your home.

The scoop

Peggy Fox (@peggyfoxtv), media/community relations lead for Dominion Energy in Northern Virginia, posted a video with a series of tips on her Instagram page that will be useful heading into the warmer months.

To start, she recommended getting used to a little bit of heat.

"How do you save money on your electric bill during these hot days? Adjust your thermostat," Fox said. "It's the number one way to conserve energy in the summer, and get this: You can save 3 percent on your cooling costs for each degree you turn up the thermostat. Try the EPA's recommended 78 degrees, especially when you're away from home."

She also offered tips to avoid generating excess heat in the home so the AC won't have as much work to do to reach the goal temperature.

"Close your blinds!" Fox said. "Sunlight streaming through windows can account for up to 40% of unwanted heat gain, and that can cause your air conditioner to work twice as hard."

Your cleaning routine also makes a difference, Fox revealed. "Wait until the evening to run your dishwasher or washing machine so you don't put extra heat and humidity in your home during the hottest part of the day," she said.

As for cooling off with a ceiling fan, Fox said it could be effective, but pointed out one potential pitfall. "They don't cool the air," she explained. "They make people feel cool with the wind chill effect."

In other words, there's no benefit to a ceiling fan when there's no one in the room — so turn them off when you leave to save energy.

How it's helping

The less work your AC has to do, the more money you save on your power bill. You're also reducing wear and tear on your cooling system, potentially making it last longer.

At the same time, much of the energy that Americans use comes from polluting sources like coal. The lower your electricity usage, the less unhealthy, heat-trapping pollution your household will put into the air.

You can increase your energy efficiency even more by weatherizing your home.

What everyone's saying

Viewers loved these tips and also added some of their own. "I am the greatest at shutting blinds!" said one commenter. "I also use reflective window darkening stick-ons on [the] sunny side of the house."

Another user added a simple but heartfelt, "Thanks Peggy!"

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