Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Time for Air Conditioning?

When it comes to some things - many things, actually - Amber and I are pretty cheap. Just look at our thermostat settings: 65 in the winter, 77 in the summer. (It used to be 78, but last summer Amber was pregnant, so we "splurged" and moved it all the way down to 77. This summer, I think we're going to maintain our newfound lavish lifestyle and keep it at 77.)

This wide range of acceptable temperatures certainly helps us save on our energy bills, particularly in the spring and fall when we can often go days at a time without using either the furnace or the air conditioner. And for that, this was pretty much the Best Spring Ever. Average temperatures in March were way above average (60.6°F, according to a quick hand calculation based on NWS data from the RDU airport), so much so that the average temperature in April (60.0°F) was actually lower than in March. How often is the April average temperature cooler than the March average temperature? That has to be pretty rare, right?

The April energy bill is usually one of the lowest of the year to begin with. And this year, you could sort of say that we had two consecutive Aprils. Bonus savings! Not only that, but the end of April was cooler than average, so we were able to postpone our turning on of the air conditioner until later than we (probably) ever have before. Today is May 1st, and it still hasn't had to come on yet. Yep, we live in North Carolina, and we left the air conditioner off until May. Pretty sweet. (I think we usually make the switch in mid-April.) As for today, it's currently 75 inside and 85 outside as of 4 PM, so I don't think we'll even need it today, either. (Certainly by the end of the week, we'll need it.)

That said, our house is in a good spot for minimal air conditioner use, i.e. the shade. Most of the newer neighborhoods around here are devoid of trees, it seems. Which is silly from an energy perspective, because ideally you want to surround your house with deciduous trees so that it's shaded during the summer and sunlit in the winter, right? But the trend you see in newer neighborhoods is for only a few trees here and there because it "looks nicer", I guess. Or maybe because fewer trees = fewer bugs? Either way, I won't be surprised if we start trending back towards shaded neighborhoods sometime in the future, like next time we find ourselves in our next big energy crisis or something.

Here's another thing we don't have to worry about: heating/cooling a two-story house. Our house is single story, so we don't have to worry so much about the whole "warm air rises" thing. I remember living in a two-story apartment in college in which at times, the temperature discrepancy between the upstairs and the downstairs could be as high as 10 degrees, maybe more! Hopefully the central air systems in today's two-story houses are engineered better than in FSU's McCollum Hall.

Well, anyway...the point of that paragraph was that many people around here, those with fewer trees around their house, a smaller range of temperature acceptance, and multiple-story houses, probably turned on their air conditioners way back in March. Neener neener! Of course, your winter heating bills are probably lower than ours.

UPDATE: We needed the air conditioner today after all - it came on at 8 PM. Yay?

1 comment:

James Allen said...

My A/C was on at 5:30 this morning.