Everyone pays for air conditioning in some form, whether they use it at their home or not. The cost of operating an AC system accounts for a large portion of household energy bills each summer. Fortunately, there are some simple changes that can be made to reduce the cost of owning and running your AC unit.
It is easy to forget how much energy AC units use. In the summer, when everyone turns on their air conditioners at their houses and offices, the increased demand for power makes it even more important to do everything you can to reduce consumption. Simple changes can have a big effect.
Upgrade your air conditioner to a more energy efficient model.
Older units tend to use a lot more power than newer models. In general, look for an energy star rating on your new AC system. Replacing older units with ones that are rated using the energy star scale will help you save money and protect the environment.
The larger your air conditioner unit, the less it needs to work each hour. If you have a central air conditioning unit, you can use the flow of energy to your advantage by using several smaller units rather than one giant system.
The outdoor unit of your AC system needs to be exposed to cooler air. The hotter the air surrounding your air conditioner, the harder it has to work to cool your home or office. Make sure that no shrubs or other objects block airflow around this component of your system, and that you regularly clean debris away from its vents.
Install insulation in the attic or walls.
Keep your home or office cooler in the summer by adding insulation to your attic, walls, and floors. The more heat you trap inside the building, the less your AC system will need to cool down your space.
Modern units are equipped with features that work around the clock to keep energy use low even when everyone is out of their homes or offices.
For the best AC system performance in summer, turn your unit on around two hours before you arrive at work or school and four hours before you want to return home. This will give it time to cool parts of the house that have been exposed to hot air for a long period of time.
Turn the AC system off if no one will be inside your home for an extended period of time. If you are using a programmable thermostat, set it to turn down or turn off when everyone is away from home. You’ll save energy this way and lower your air conditioning bills as well.
Seal any leaks around windows, doors, and vents
Air leaks can cause your AC system to work overtime, which will drive up your energy bills. Leaks around windows and doors allow cold air into the house during the winter and hot air during the summer. Even if you do not see any obvious cracks or openings, there may be small spaces where drafts are flowing through. Air flows through these small gaps and escapes your home, which causes it to work harder to keep up with the heating and cooling demand.
Before calling a professional for assistance, you can check your windows and doors to see if they are properly sealed. Fold a dollar bill in half lengthwise and slide it along the edge of gaps between your door and its frame. If the money slides through, there is an opening that needs to be patched. You can also check windows by placing a piece of paper against them. If air can pass through, the paper will move.
Close exterior vents in the home or office during the warm summer months to keep hot air from entering your building. Ensuring that doors are closed when you are away will also reduce air flow into your home and help your AC unit keep your space cool.
Keep curtains closed during the day.
Curtains keep hot sun out of your home in summer, but they also keep cool air inside. If you have blinds or shades, it’s a good idea to close them during the day as well to keep your AC system from overworking.
At night, open your blinds and curtains to let cool air in. As the sun rises, close everything up again to trap the cool inside. This will allow you to lower your AC temperature level at night when everyone is asleep and no one needs to be kept comfortable.
Change your AC filter regularly.
To keep your air conditioner running at peak efficiency, be sure to replace the filter in your unit regularly. A dirty filter makes your system work harder to pump out cool air, which will cause you to use more energy and raise utility bills. If it’s been a month or more since you changed the filter, make the switch right away.
When the weather outside is warmer than normal, your air conditioning system will need more time to cool down your home or office before you arrive. This means it might come on a few hours earlier than expected. If its going to be hot out when you normally return from work or school, turn off everything in your house a little earlier so that the temperature inside drops before you arrive.
When it’s hot, keep all windows and doors closed during the afternoon to trap cool air in your home. Open them up around sunset when the sun goes down to let warm air out, then close things back up after dark when it is cooler outside.
Use fans instead of AC units when possible
Fans can help circulate air in your home, making cooling it down much easier. This is the best solution for rooms such as dens and kitchens that don’t have AC units attached. If you’re not using a room where it’s particularly hot, open windows and let fresh breezes come inside to cool everything off naturally. You won’t need to run a fan all day, and there is no need for energy-hogging AC units in spaces that get just a little warm.
When you’re at home, keep the thermostat set to your comfort level. If you plan to be out of the house for an extended period of time, turn the AC up so that you return to a cool and pleasant space. This will save some energy and ensure that your system doesn’t run constantly while you are away.
When you’re not at home, consider keeping your thermostat turned down. When no one is in the house, it takes less energy to keep it cool than when there are people inside who need to be kept comfortable. Just remember to turn up the AC before you return for the day or when conditions outside warrant it.
Turn off lights and unplug electronics when they’re not being used .
Leaving lights and electronics on when they’re not in use leads to higher energy bills. If you are going to be away from home or leaving the office for a few hours, turn off all lights and unplug appliances. This will help keep your space cool while making your AC unit work less when you return to it.
If you’re planning to use the oven, open the door and turn it on right away. If you let hot air hang around in your kitchen when you aren’t cooking, your AC system will have to work harder to keep things comfortable when everyone’s home again. Open the oven door and turn it on — chances are it will cool down pretty quickly, and the kitchen will smell delicious.
Keep a window open in bathrooms and other rooms with windows to allow air to circulate. If you have an AC unit that works well in your bathroom, keep the door closed while it is running. However, when you leave or go to bed for the night, be sure to open a window in the room. This will encourage the unit to work less and save you some energy in the long run.
If your AC system is struggling to cool your home, consider investing in a window unit. These cost-effective devices allow you to take off cool air from outside and circulate it indoors for maximum comfort during hot weather. Window units are generally inexpensive to install and run, making them a great choice for cooling a single room quickly.