Air conditioning accounts for a significant part of summer energy costs, and increasing its efficiency can save you quite a bit of money. Here are some tips to help.
Keep air vents clear of debris and furniture to ensure proper flow. Shade east-, south-, and west-facing windows with awnings or extended roof eaves to reduce radiant heat.
Change the Air Filter
The air filter is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve your AC efficiency. Dirty filters slow down air flow and force the system to work harder to keep you cool. That extra strain increases the risk of wear and tear, early breakdown, and higher energy bills.
It is important to replace your air filter regularly. You can find a guideline online for how often to change your air filter, but the exact frequency will depend on many factors such as where you live (desert climates tend to need more frequent changes than humid areas), how much you use your AC, and what kind of creatures live in your home. Checking your filter every three weeks is a good rule of thumb for most homes.
You will also want to check your vents for dirty ductwork and pet hair, and vacuum them as needed. You may also consider hiring a professional duct cleaner for your whole house.
When you’re ready to replace the filter, make sure the unit is turned off. You can shut it off at the thermostat or breaker box, or using the shut-off switch on the outdoor unit (often looking like a light switch).
Once the power is off, remove the old filter. It’s best to do this with the cover off if there is one. Be sure to save the packaging so you know what type of filter to buy next time. Ensure you get the right size filter, too. The size is typically printed on the edge of the filter.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out how to change the air filter, or what type of filter to purchase, contact your HVAC service tech. They can show you where the filter is located and how to remove and insert the new one. They can also help you determine what size filter you have, and show you how to order the correct replacements at a local home improvement or hardware store.
There are a number of different types of air filters available, including fiberglass, pleated, and electrostatic. Fiberglass filters are inexpensive and are disposable, but they don’t last long and can create a lot of dust in your home. Pleated filters last up to six months and are more efficient than fiberglass. Electrostatic filters use electrostatic cling to trap particles and can be reusable for years. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are the most expensive, but they can filter more than 98% of allergens from your home.
Keep the Doors and Windows Closed
Many homeowners are looking for ways to save energy, and one tip that often gets shared is to close interior doors in rooms that aren’t being used. This might seem like a great idea, but it can actually cause a number of problems that will make your air conditioning less efficient.
When a door or window is open, it’s much harder to maintain the desired temperature in the room. This forces the AC to work harder, and it consumes more energy to do so. Aside from that, closing doors can also create a draft in the room, which isn’t good for your health.
Keeping curtains drawn and blinds closed will help keep the temperature cool. The hot summer sun can quickly heat up a room, making the air conditioner have to work harder. Having the curtains and blinds drawn will prevent this, while also helping your air conditioner perform more efficiently.
It’s important to find a comfortable temperature that you can live with, and to stick with it. Fiddling with the thermostat can cause it to work harder than necessary, so it’s best to find a happy medium and to stick with that setting.
Closing supply air vents in unused rooms can also reduce the amount of energy needed to cool down the space. However, it’s also important to remember that closing a vent can affect the balance of airflow in the system, and can cause other problems with your air conditioning.
Another way to reduce your air conditioning usage is to step up home insulation. Adding extra insulation and sealing any cracks or leaks can help your home be more like a thermos, keeping cool air inside and warm air out.
It’s also a good idea to vacuum and dust your ducts regularly. Having a dirty duct will make your air conditioner work harder to cool the same space, and can even damage it over time. Finally, don’t block any vents with furniture or rugs. It’s important to keep all of the conditioned air flowing freely through the house.
Run Large Appliances at Night
If you run large appliances such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer during peak times, it can cause your air conditioner to work harder. To avoid wasting energy and money, plan your laundry and dishwasher schedule to be done at night when electricity rates are lower.
In addition, make sure your indoor air supply vents are not blocked by blinds, rugs or furniture and that the ductwork leading to them is clear. This will help ensure that conditioned air is reaching all parts of your home.
You should also plan on running large appliances, such as the oven and dishwasher, during non-peak hours. These hours are usually evenings or early mornings. You should also plan on cooking in the kitchen during non-peak hours as well.
The coolest time to run your AC is at night. Cooler night temperatures and shaded windows can allow you to turn your thermostat back a few degrees and still feel comfortable. A ceiling fan will help too.
Turn the AC Off at Night
The last thing you want to do is have your air conditioning running all night and waste money that you don’t need to. However, there are other energy-saving techniques that you can use to save money without having to compromise on sleep. For instance, upgrading to a programmable thermostat that can adjust temperature during the night can help you save on electricity bills. Alternatively, using ceiling fans and exhaust fans to circulate air can also help to reduce energy consumption.
When it comes to turning the AC off at night, it really depends on how hot it is outside and what your humidity level is. If the outdoor temperature is much lower than your home’s temperature, then it will make more sense to leave the AC on. However, if the outdoors is very hot and humid, then your AC will have to work hard to cool the house when it’s turned on again in the morning.
If you’re leaving the house for an hour or so, then it’s better to turn off the AC, as the house will naturally cool down a bit before you get back. However, if you’ll be gone for longer than an hour, it’s more efficient to keep the AC on and just set the thermostat higher.
This can save you more money on your energy bill, as it will not have to work as hard to cool the house back down when you return. Similarly, you can also set your AC to come on a little before you arrive home to give the house a chance to cool down before you enter.
There are many ways to save on your energy bill, and the key is being proactive about making changes in your home. With these tips, you can cut your energy costs and still be able to have the comfort that your family needs.