Energy efficiency does not necessarily require that you install expensive equipment. But saving money should not mean that you need to sacrifice comfort during the hot summer months. Understanding the various components of your HVAC system can help you to keep it running efficiently and help to save money on your energy bills.
Energy costs continue to rise across the country. Since we cannot control the price of energy, we need to improve the efficiency of the unit to combat high electric bills caused by air conditioning use.
Here are some tips to help increase the efficiency of your air conditioning unit and make your home cooler for less cost.
Tips for Better Energy Efficiency
Air conditioning is not just a luxury during the scorching summer months in Southern California. While we cannot tell you specifically what is wrong with your air conditioner without inspecting it for ourselves, we can tell you some things that we see often that could be leading to higher energy bills. Here, we have listed some tips for how you should operate your air conditioner and some of the most effective advice we have assembled after many years of experience helping customers utilize best practices.
- Operate Your Thermostat Successfully:
We know that the hotter it gets, the more tempting it is to drastically lower the thermostat. While we understand why people do that, we also know that this is not a very good idea.
Temperatures can only realistically be cooled no more than 20 degrees below the outside temperature. If temperatures are 100 degrees outdoors, do not try to get the indoor temperatures cooler than 80. Otherwise, your AC will work too hard for very little results.
Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 – 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save money and energy. With a programmable thermostat, you can automatically adjust the temperature for different times of the day or during times you are going to be away from home for several hours.
- Utilize Fans
Unlike air conditioners, ceiling fans do not actually lower the temperature in a room. Instead, they offer a “wind chill effect” that helps you feel cool from the breeze brushing against your skin. For a ceiling fan to be effective, you must be able to directly feel the evaporative and convective airflow created by the fan. That said, a ceiling fan can be a great way to ease the burden on your air conditioner. Just one running ceiling fan can lower temperatures by a few degrees at a fraction of the energy cost an AC requires.
In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counterclockwise direction. While standing directly under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze. The airflow produced creates a wind-chill effect, making you “feel” cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your ceiling fan — additional energy and dollar savings could be realized with this simple step!
- Keep Curtains and Blinds Closed
When direct sun hits the windows in your home, keeping your curtains or blinds closed can keep some of the heat from warming the inside of your home. Making your house less warm in the summer will make your Air conditioner work more efficient and will drain less electricity. The first step for that is to find blackout curtains or shades to block the heat that passes through windows.
Remember when you are covering your windows do not forget to seal all air leaks for better shielding effect against heat coming from outside through warm air inside, for this, you can look over all the vents and pipes that go inside and chimneys and fill the gap between them so that there will be no leakage of cold air or incomings of warm air or heat.
- Avoid Using Heat Producing Appliances During Hot Days
On extremely hot days, try to avoid using your hair dryer and your oven. Using equipment like your oven and dryer will add additional warm air to your home, causing your air conditioner to have to work harder. When you use these appliances, they are going to result in warm air being circulated through the home. As a result, the AC will have to work harder to compensate for this surge of warmth.
- Keep Lamps and Appliances Away From Your Thermostat
Having heat producing appliances near your thermostat will tell it that the air in your home needs to be cooled more, causing the system to run longer and work harder than it may need to.
- Invest in a Dehumidifier
Your air conditioner might dehumidify your air, but it is not meant to do that more than a little bit. Investing in a dehumidifier can help ease the burden on your AC and lessen energy consumption.
- Change the Air Filter
The air filter can get inundated with dust, debris, pet dander, pollen, and all sorts of contaminants when your air conditioner runs at the peak of summer. It is important to change your air filter in accordance with how much you are using your AC. If you’re running it more because temperatures are high, then it’s perfectly fine to change your air filter more frequently to ensure maximum airflow!
- Vacuum Indoor Vents
To make both of your heaters and AC work properly, vacuum away the debris and dust that gets stuck around vent opening and air filters inside AC. This dust blocks airflow and becomes an obstacle for the quality and efficiency of it.
- Insulate Any Exposed Ductwork
Make sure ductwork that runs through an unconditioned space is properly sealed so it does not leak any of your conditioned air. You can fix visual leaks with a specialized duct-sealing tape, but be sure a professional also checks the ductwork during your next scheduled maintenance visit. It is also recommended that your ductwork be insulated using the proper thickness duct insulating material.
- Clean Around Outdoor Condenser Unit
Your outdoor unit will work most efficiently if it is clean and clear of debris. However, cleaning the condenser can be tricky, so be sure you know what to do and how to do it before you get started. Leave the more in-depth cleanings to the pros. They can ensure the proper methods are used to prevent any type of serious damage.
- Clear Your Drain Line
There is a drain by the indoor cooling coil, typically mounted above the furnace in the basement. If you flush one cup of chlorine bleach down your air conditioning drain and rinse it with a gallon of water, you can keep your drain clear through the summer. Keeping your drain line clear can save your basement from taking on water if the drain becomes blocked.
- Get Your Air Conditioner Serviced Early
The number one air conditioning tip is to get your AC serviced each year. Do not wait until mid-summer when the temperature skyrockets and HVAC professionals are at their busiest. Putting off that service visit too long can result in you missing a small problem that can turn into a big one. Instead, have your AC unit serviced by an Aire-Tech repair professional. An annual service should keep your AC unit in peak condition, running efficiently and free of any costly preventable repairs so you can put your summer fun money toward something more enjoyable.
Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs an HVAC Professional
If you have performed basic air conditioner troubleshooting and you still have issues, it could be time to call in a local HVAC professional. Here are a few signs that your system has problems:
- Increased energy costs without increased usage
- Frequent system cycling
- An iced up compressor (only attempt to remove ice from your ACif you know how)
- New (and probably unpleasant) sounds
If your air conditioner is still not running properly and you are not experiencing better air conditioning efficiency after completing the above tips, it might be time to call a professional service technician at Aire-Tech. Our highly trained and skilled technicians will check your unit or units for proper air flow and coolant levels as well as clean internal coils and perform other repairs if required.
If your system needs repair or inspection before spring or summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.