We’ve had a hot summer – air conditioners running around the clock! With the current state of the economy most of us are trying to cut costs in any way we can. You can cut your energy costs by increasing the efficiency of your system and decreasing your need for air conditioning.
Increase the Efficiency of Your System
- Have a professional technician inspect, clean, and tune your system every year. The condenser on your unit needs to be cleaned yearly by a professional. During a service call the refrigerant may need recharging. This correction can improve your system’s efficiency by as much as 20%. A technician will also measure airflow over the indoor coil. Correcting airflow rates can improve your efficiency by another 5-10%. Your duct system needs to be in good shape also. If it is in poor shape, proper sealing and insulation can reduce cooling energy by 10-15%.
- Change the air filter in your air conditioning unit monthly. The filter in your unit should never be allowed to get dirty enough to impede airflow. This will cause damage to the unit. You should at least check your filter monthly and follow the recommendations of the manufacturer for your particular model.
- Increase your comfort by using fans. With a ceiling fan you can be comfortable with your thermostat set higher (78° F). Each degree you are able to raise the thermostat can save you as much as 3-5% on your air conditioning costs.
- Reduce excessive use. Set the temperature on your thermostat up when you are not home. With a programmable thermostat you can do this easily and have it resume to a comfortable temperature before you return home. Always keep doors and windows closed when your air conditioner is operating. Minimize indoor humidity by running hot-water appliances in the evening and shower with the exhaust fan on.
Reduce Your Use of A/C
- Improve insulation and air sealing. This will prevent heat from entering your house and cool air from leaving. You should especially check the insulation levels and air leaks between your living space and the attic.
- Dispose of inefficient appliances. Appliances that are inefficient give off a lot of heat. Consider getting rid of old refrigerators, replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents, and unplug electronic equipment when not in use.
- Increase air movement and ventilation. Use ceiling or house fans. A fan uses less energy than air conditioning and can increase the comfort level in your home by helping circulate air through your home.
- Use light exterior finishes. Using light-colored or other “cool” roofing and siding products can reduce your peak cooling demand by as much as 10-15%.
- Update or shade windows. If you are considering new windows, have a low-e glazing put on the windows that get the most summer sun. This will help block unwanted heat gain. Also use shades to protect against the hot summer sun. Consider horizontal trellises for your east and west-facing windows to keep the high-angle summer sun out. Protect south-facing windows with deciduous tress or climbing foliage. This will enable you to take advantage of the low-angle sun in the winter.