You may not think twice about cranking up the air conditioning when it’s hot outside—until you see your electric bill. Air conditioning accounts for about 12% of the average U.S. home’s annual energy expenditures and up to 70% of your utility costs during the summer. If you’re tired of overpaying for air conditioning, follow these 13 tips to improve AC efficiency and save money on your monthly expenditures.
- Prioritize routine maintenance: Dirt and debris build up in your air conditioner over time, lowering efficiency. Schedule annual maintenance to have a technician clean your unit’s coils, replace the filter, tighten electrical connections, lubricate moving parts and more. A yearly inspection also allows your technician to identify and fix any potential issues before they become major problems.
- Keep the outdoor unit free of junk: Loose debris and nearby vegetation growing around your air conditioner can reduce airflow and make the system work harder. Check the unit throughout the summer, trimming back vegetation and cleaning up debris as needed to keep your cooling system functioning properly.
- Install a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat enables you to set automatic temperatures based on your schedule. In the summer, program a higher temperature when you’re away from home and have it resume a comfortable temperature before you come back. This reduces energy consumption and saves money without sacrificing comfort.
- Stay away from overriding programmed settings: While you are able to override the temperature on your programmable thermostat, try turning on a fan or shedding a layer of clothes before you change the setting. When you need to adjust the temperature, do so by just a degree or two. Cranking down the temperature won’t cool your home any more rapidly and only serves to waste energy.
- Make use of the auto fan setting: While fan-only mode circulates air to prevent rooms from becoming stuffy, HVAC professionals recommend using this setting sparingly. “Auto fan” is the more efficient setting because the blower only runs when the rest of the AC does, avoiding unnecessary energy waste.
- Block solar heat gain: Closing blinds and curtains, putting in exterior awnings and applying window film helps block the sun’s heat to keep your home cooler. These strategies are most useful on south- and west-facing windows where the sun shines directly inside.
- Install the outdoor unit in the shade: Direct sunlight makes your system to work harder and reduces efficiency. So if possible, position the condensing unit so it’s shaded in the afternoon.
- Keep your air vents open: It’s a common misconception that closing the vents in unused rooms saves energy. Unfortunately, this throws off the supply and return air equilibrium, making your AC less efficient. As a rule, keep at least 80% of your registers open at all times and make sure no vents are obstructed by rugs, curtains or furniture.
- Use ceiling fans along with your air conditioner: Ceiling fans circulate air throughout the room, producing a wind chill effect that makes you feel about 4 degrees cooler. This may allow you to turn up the temperature a few degrees without feeling uncomfortable, reducing your dependence on the air conditioner and lowering your bills.
- Use a dehumidifier: High humidity causes a “cool but clammy” feeling, which is an uncomfortable sensation that may force you to repeatedly lower the temperature. Actually, you need less humidity, not necessarily cooler air. Running a whole-house dehumidifier removes excess moisture, making your home feel more comfortable for a fraction of the cost of air conditioning.
- Use natural ventilation wisely: When it’s hot and humid outside, keep your windows and doors closed to restrict cool air from leaking out. If you are living in somewhere with cool summer evenings, open the windows and doors overnight to cool off the house naturally, reducing the load on your air conditioner.
- Seal air leaks: Leaky windows and doors let hot summer air inside of the house even when closed, making it harder and more expensive to keep things cool. Seal leaks with caulk and weatherstripping to keep conditioned air inside where it belongs.
- Seal duct leaks: A standard home loses 20% or more of the conditioned air flowing through it to leaks, holes and badly connected ducts. Reach out to a professional to seal your ductwork and put an end to this energy waste.
If you still have comfort problems or high energy bills after trying out these tips, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for help. We can diagnose and repair air conditioning concerns, provide preventative maintenance, or replace your outdated, poorly performing system with a new, high-efficiency model. For your peace of mind, we stand behind everything we do with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! Contact a Service Experts office near you today to learn more or request air conditioning services in North America.