How to Help Your Air Conditioner Run More Efficiently
As the hotter months approach, you may wonder how to keep your home cool and comfortable without your energy costs soaring. The secret lies in using your air conditioning unit more effectively. Follow these 12 simple recommendations and strategies to keep your HVAC system in optimal condition, reduce energy consumption and save money.
1. Leave the Thermostat Alone
Frequently altering the thermostat makes your AC work harder, raising energy consumption and causing excessive wear and tear. To optimize efficiency, set the temperature at a comfortable level—preferably around 78 degrees F (25 degrees C)—when you’re home. Next, refrain from moving it. If you get overheated, take off} a layer of clothing, spray water on your skin or turn on a fan to cool off without changing the temperature.
2. Set the Temperature Back When You’re Away
For optimum savings, set the temperature 7-10 degrees higher than your typical setting for at least eight hours per day. To help you “set it and forget it,” consider installing a programmable thermostat. This easy upgrade allows you to schedule temperatures based on your everyday routines, automatically modifying the temperature to create a comfortable home when you’re there and conserving energy when you’re away.
3. Keep the Curtains Closed
Solar heat gain from direct sunlight makes your AC run longer than it has to. To reduce heat gain, close the curtains over your south- and west-facing windows when the temperature is the hottest. Window coverings with light-colored backings are the most effective at reflecting sunlight.
4. Keep the Vents Open
Blocked or closed air vents throw off your air conditioning system’s supply/return air balance, decreasing efficiency and upping operating costs. To stop this, always keep at least 80 percent of your supply registers open and be sure no return vents are hindered by curtains, furniture or rugs.
5. Create Airflow with Fans
Utilizing fans along with your air conditioner circulates cool air more efficiently, making your home feel more comfortable while barely increasing energy consumption. Ceiling fans, in particular, create a wind chill effect that makes the room feel about 4 degrees cooler, enabling you to set the temperature higher without sacrificing comfort.
6. Get Rid of Hot and Humid Air
Cooking and showering create heat and moisture. Run your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans during these activities to decrease your home’s cooling load. In addition, make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outdoors to stop hot, humid air from releasing into your residence.
7. Use a Dehumidifier
High humidity levels results in your home feeling cool but clammy, tempting you to turn down the temperature. A dehumidifier takes out excess moisture, making your home feel cooler and more comfortable while requiring significantly less electricity than running the air conditioner.
8. Install Your Outdoor AC Unit in the Shade
The outdoor unit’s location influences its effectiveness significantly. Installing it on your home’s north or east side shelters it from the afternoon heat for more effective heat transfer. If the unit gets direct sunlight at the hottest time of the day, consider planting a tree or using a screen to shade it. Just make sure that any plant or structure you add doesn’t hamper airflow.
9. Save Your Chores for the Evening
Cooking, laundry and dishwashing lead to indoor heat gain, making your air conditioner work harder. Completing these tasks later in the day when temperatures aren’t as high reduces the cooling load during the hottest hours of the day and saves energy.
10. Replace the Air Filter
A filthy filter limits airflow and increases energy consumption, so switch it out routinely to promote optimal performance. Many basic filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the ideal replacement schedule for your product.
11. Seal and Insulate the Ductwork
Leaky, uninsulated ducts squander significant amounts of energy, especially if they run through unconditioned spaces including the attic, crawl space or garage. Sealing and insulating your ductwork maintains system efficiency and reduces energy expenses.
12. Schedule Preventative AC Maintenance
Routine tune-ups are essential to keep your air conditioning system running properly. Hire an accredited specialist to inspect, clean and service your system every spring. This precautionary measure extends your air conditioner’s life span, reduces energy consumption, and allows the technician to find and deal with potential issues before they become high-priced problems.
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