By Candice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Temperatures aren't the only numbers that climb in the summer. With air conditioners on full blast, so do energy bills.
Cooling costs run the average homeowner about $400 a year, according to Energy Star, the government program that promotes energy efficiency. But you can control your expenses with a few simple measures.
Whether you have central air conditioning or a window unit, here's how to keep costs down:
Find the right unit
Let's start with window units. Their cooling capacity is measured in Btus, and the amount required depends on the size of the room.
You don't want a unit that's too weak, of course. But getting one that's too powerful isn't a good idea either.
That's because the room will cool too quickly and the unit will be turned on and off more frequently. This not only wastes energy, but interferes with the air conditioner's ability to regulate humidity. So the room could be left feeling damp and uncomfortable.
The recommended Btu capacities for various room sizes can be found on the Energy Star Web site at www.energystar.gov. Note that adjustments should be made depending on certain factors. For example, sunny rooms need more cooling power, while well-shaded rooms need less.
Units that have the Energy Star label indicate that they're more energy efficient than standard models.
The same is true for central air conditioners. However, those looking for central air units are likely working with contractors who can recommend the right cooling capacities and models for a home.
An important point to remember when letting a contractor take the reigns is that central air units usually come in multiple parts. To ensure maximum energy efficiency, make sure the parts your contractor uses are from the same manufacturer or approved to work together.