5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates

Welcome to Energy in Your Twenties! This series will help college students, recent college grads, and young professionals prepare for their first experiences with an electricity bill. Whether it’s figuring out how to choose an electricity provider, how to curb your roommate’s excessive electricity use, or how to make homemade dishes without cranking up your energy usage, this series will tackle the questions and obstacles people face during the first couple of years of paying their own electricity bill.

Living with roommates can be incredible. From eating meals to watching Netflix, you have people around you at all times to help you enjoy your 20’s – and they’re great for splitting the bills. Some are flat and predictable, like rent, cable, and Internet, while other bills – like electricity – fluctuate each month, and these can get your budget into trouble.

Not only are the charges based upon actual energy usage (which can change by the season), but they can increase simply based upon the number of people living in your home. So, if unchecked, living with roommates can drastically increase your electricity bill.

For example, I lived with five roommates in college, which meant six women in one house using the electricity inscrutably, whether blasting the air conditioner or leaving windows open. This turned our first electricity bill into a nightmare, so my roommates and I had to take charge of our energy bill by reducing our actual energy use.

Learn from my experiences by analyzing these five air conditioning mistakes you make with your roommates. Following these simple tips can help you save money and energy on your next electricity bill – especially when you lock in a a low fixed-rate energy plan with First Choice Power .

Mistake #1: Leaving the Air Conditioner on High When No One is Home

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power
An empty home and the A/C is set to 68 degrees F?! Time to schedule a talk with the roommates.

One of the biggest mistakes my roommates and I made with our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system was assuming that someone would always be home. This meant we wasted money running our air conditioner at full power to cool an empty home. This mistake will always drive up your electricity bill.

My Advice?

Option 1: Take the time to make a schedule with your roommates. If one roommate always leaves last, make them responsible for turning up the air conditioner while the house is empty. The optimum setting for the air conditioner when no one is home is 80⁰ Fahrenheit, while the best temperature for your heater in winter is 62⁰ Fahrenheit.

Option 2: If you and your roommates are willing to invest in a programmable thermostat, this makes regulating your home’s HVAC system becomes much more simple. And with the helpful app, you can make changes to the setting in case someone left the air conditioner running at 72 degrees when they left for work that morning.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Schedule Checkups

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power
Take the time now to keep your air conditioner running smoothly, and you can save time and money later!

The only thing worse than a high electricity bill is a broken air conditioner in the heat of the Texas summer – not to mention the hassle of dealing with repairs. Avoid this problem by scheduling a check up for your air conditioner and heater before the heavy usage times of year. This service will also save you money by limiting wasted energy. Regular maintenance of your air conditioner and heater helps to keep them operating at their most effective.

My Advice?

 If you have trouble remembering when to schedule  your HVAC checkups, simply match them to the changing of the clocks. When we “spring forward” and move our clocks up, schedule your air conditioning checkup. In the fall when we “fall back” and adjust the clocks again, schedule your heater checkup.

Mistake #3: Assuming Everyone Likes the House as Cold (or Hot) as You

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power
While no one should suffer in an uncomfortable home, you should determine a thermostat setting that’s good for everyone and your energy bill.

Your home should be comfortable, but everyone’s idea of comfort is different. One of my roommates liked our house to be extremely cold. Another of my roommates broke into hives if she got too cold. The result was that each roommate was changing the temperature  on our thermostat to what we thought was best.

Continuously changing the temperature on your thermostat continuously wastes energy and money. Each time you change the setting, the HVAC system has to stop and start. This constant changing hinders the units from running efficiently.

My Advice?

It’s time for another roommate conversation. Decide on a temperature that works for everyone, and stick to it. Keep expenses in mind when having this conversation, as choosing temperature extremes will always cost more.

If you’re having trouble agreeing on what temperature works best, experiment. Change the temperature by 2⁰ F each day and see what everyone can agree on. If agreements don’t seem likely to be reached, opt for using ceiling fans or standing fans for your personal rooms. Fans are fairly inexpensive, and running it 24/7 for a year can be comparably inexpensive, depending upon the size of the fan.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Change Your Filters

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power
We recommend changing your filters at least once every three months – or more often. Check with the manufacturer of your HVAC unit for more information.

Guilty Admission Time: My roommates and I had lived together for 1-1/2 years before we realized we had forgotten to change our air filters. Don’t be like us! Dirty filters inhibit air flow, make your HVAC system work harder and more inefficiently to keep your home at the temperature you’ve set, which increases your energy bill.

My Advice?

Most filters need to be changed monthly. So take time now to set a reminder on your smart phone or calendar to replace the filters in your home to keep your air healthy and electricity bill low. Choose a simple day you’re likely to remember – like the 1st of the month.

Mistake #5: Keep Your Curtains and Blinds Open 24/7

5 Air Conditioning Mistakes You Make with Your Roommates | First Choice Power
Leaving shutters, blinds, and curtains open all day can raise the temperature of your home. If no one is home enjoying the natural light, make sure they are shut!

My roommates and I lived in an old home, so it had become less and less energy efficient over the years. So, while we thought we were helping our electricity bill by keeping the blinds and windows open – providing natural light instead of turning on the lights – we were hurting it.

While this practice can be helpful, both excessive sunlight and cold winds can force your HVAC system to work harder to keep your home the temperature you desire.

Simply shutting your blinds or curtains on the side of your house that receives the most sun is the best way to start. You can also invest in a door draft blocker that prevents unnecessary air flow between rooms.

My Advice?

Take a moment with your roommates do to a quick energy audit of your home to help you discover where your home is wasting energy and help you make your house more energy efficient. For example – determine which parts of your home receive the most sun and if your curtains keep the heat out. If you  find a window or door letting in too much air, replace the weatherstripping or re-caulk the seal.

Don’t let high energy bills come between you and your roommates. Learning these 5 air conditioning mistakes and then taking steps to correct them can lower your energy usage, which means you could see lower energy bills in your future!

Save even more energy and money with a Texas electricity plan from First Choice Power! We have a variety of plans to fit your lifestyle and your budget.

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Ginny Walters is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Latin. When not in the office, she enjoys stretching her legs in a good workout, trying new recipes in the kitchen, or continuing her quest for the perfect coffee shop with the best latte.