Smart thermostats are one way to lower summer AC bills

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Triple-digit heat means air conditioners are working extra hard, running up utility bills in the process.

When it comes to cutting costs, Consumer Reports found smart thermostats can be a money saver for people with central air.

"It gets swelteringly hot to the point where I spend as little time in the apartment as possible," said Eliza Hanson. 

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Hanson’s typical summer bills are two to three times what they are in winter, sometimes reaching over $200 a month for her tiny apartment.

There are some easy ways to chill your bill.

"If you have central air conditioning, one of the smartest investments you can make is installing a smart thermostat," said Consumer Reports’ Home Editor Dan Wroclawski. "Some can keep track of your preferences without complicated programming, and you can even control them from your phone."

Smart thermostats can be controlled to run the AC less when no one is home and be set to make the room comfortable for when you return. The adjustments can help lower your bills as much as 10 percent, according to CR. Some models also have sensors to prevent different parts of your house from getting too warm or too cold.

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CPS Energy offers as  smart thermostat program. The utility will install a smart thermostat valued at about $300 for free. In exchange, customers allow the utility to adjust their thermostat during conservation events. Customers do have the ability to opt out.

Other ways to cut cooling costs include closing shades and curtains during the day, plugging cracks around doors and windows and using the ceiling fan. It should run counter-clockwise in summer. While it can’t cool a room, it can make the room feel up to four degrees cooler.

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