Infographic: Cool House, Fat Wallet. How to Run the A/C Full Blast Without Paying For It

By Matthew Wheeland - August 17, 2011
Infographic: How to Run the Air Conditioning Without Paying for It


Infographic: How to Run the Air Conditioning Without Paying for It

Cool House, Fat Wallet: How to Run the A/C Full Blast Without Paying for It

More Americans are using air conditioning than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their electricity bills are spiking. Significantly more people are using air conditioning today, especially in the Midwest and the South. 1980: 27%. 2001: 55%.


Households with Central Air Conditioning


  • 1978: 9%
  • 1987: 16%
  • 1997: 22%
  • 1978: 25%
  • 1987: 32%
  • 1997: 51%
  • 1978: 37%
  • 1987: 52%
  • 1997: 70%
  • 1978: 14%
  • 1987: 24%
  • 1997: 28%
Significantly more people are consuming lots of electricity. Household electricity consumption (2001):
  • Kitchen appliances: 27%
  • Air conditioning: 16%
  • Space heating: 10%
  • Water heating: 9%
  • Lighting: 9%
  • Home electronics: 7%
  • Laundry appliances: 7%
  • HVAC appliances: 5%
  • Other equipment: 2%
  • Other end uses: 8%

Houses with Solar Stay Cool

recently ran a poll to see how much homeowners are using air conditioning these days and whether solar powered homes differ from their grid-fired counterparts. Here’s what we found.

  • Homeowners: 87%
  • Renters: 13%
  • Have central air: 38%
  • Have an A/C unit: 36%
  • Don’t own an air conditioner: 12%
  • Primarily use grid power for home electricity: 64%
  • Primarily use solar power for home electricity: 36%
  • Percent of homeowners who said air conditioning raises their electricity bill by more than $50 a month:
    Homeowners with grid power: 20%
    Homeowners with solar power: 9%
  • Percent who use A/C every day or nearly every day during hotter months: 44%
  • Percent who use A/C here and there (a few days a month): 18%
  • Percent who use A/C rarely (a few days a month): 22%
  • Percent who never use A/C: 18%
  • Average guilt when running air conditioning for respondents with grid power (10 being guiltiest): 5.8
  • Average guilt when running air conditioning for respondents with solar power (10 being guiltiest): 5.6

Hot But Not Bothered

Ten percent of poll takers said they don’t use air conditioning at all. Here are the top four reasons they listed, in descending order:

  • It doesn’t get that hot where I live.
  • It’s not good for the environment.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • It feels unnatural/I prefer heat
Cool comments from poll takers with solar:
  • “Our solar array provides about 60% of the power consumed by the air conditioner. We feel less guilty.”
  • “A/C cost and its environmental impact was a major driver for getting solar.”
  • “We actually may install central air conditioning. While it’s rarely hot enough in our coastal location, there are maybe 10-15 days a year it would be nice. Now that we have solar panels, the electricity use won’t be an issue.”
  • “I do animal rescue, so I can’t let the house get above 85 degrees or the house rabbits, hamsters, and cats (or whatever I’m fostering at the moment) could get heat stroke. I used to feel more guilt about running the A/C, but my solar panels fixed that!”
  • “We have solar panels and our bill this month was $22.67 after an entire month of full blast air. This is in New Jersey, with obscenely high electricity rates!”

What’s ?

organizes group deals on solar energy. Since 2008, has run hundreds of group deals in over 40 U.S. states and helped thousands of homeowners go solar. We’ve been featured in dozens of publications and programs including The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, USA Today, Marketplace, Wired, and GOOD Magazine. In 2010, sponsored the first-ever solar deal on and received a Heart of Green Award for “Best New Innovation.” Want to find out if there’s a group deal on solar in your area? Sign up for (it’s free). Not ready to go solar, but want to help take solar mainstream? Tell your friends about .


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