How to Help Your Air Conditioner Run More Efficiently
As the hotter months draw near, 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 efficiently. Follow these 12 simple tips and tactics to keep your HVAC system in optimal condition, minimize energy consumption and save money.
1. Leave the Thermostat Alone
Frequently altering the thermostat makes your air conditioner work harder, increasing energy consumption and causing excessive wear and tear. To boost efficiency, set the temperature at a comfortable level—preferably around 78 degrees F (25 degrees C)—when you’re inside the residence. Next, refrain from touching it. If you get too warm, take off} a layer of clothing, spray water on your skin or turn on a fan to cool off without lowering the temperature.
2. Set the Temperature Back When You’re Away
For the most savings, set the temperature 7-10 degrees higher than your usual setting for at least eight hours per day. To help you “set it and forget it,” think about installing a programmable thermostat. This simple upgrade allows you to program temperatures based on your daily routines, automatically adjusting the temperature to create a comfortable home when you’re there and conserving energy when you’re not home.
3. Keep the Curtains Closed
Solar heat gain from direct sunlight forces your cooling system to work more than it has to. To minimize heat gain, close the curtains over your south- and west-facing windows when the temperature is the hottest. Window coverings with light-colored backings work the best at reflecting the sun’s rays.
4. Keep the Vents Open
Obstructed or closed air vents throw off your HVAC system’s supply/return air balance, decreasing efficiency and raising operating expenses. To avoid this, keep at least 80 percent of your supply registers open and make certain no return vents are blocked by curtains, furniture or rugs.
5. Create Airflow with Fans
Using fans in combination with your air conditioning system circulates cool air more, making your home feel more comfortable while slightly increasing energy consumption. Ceiling fans, specifically, create a wind chill effect that makes the room feel about 4 degrees cooler, enabling you to set the temperature higher without losing comfort.
6. Get Rid of Hot and Humid Air
Cooking and showering generate heat and humidity. Run your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans during these activities to decrease your home’s cooling burden. Also, ensure that your clothes dryer vents to the outdoors to stop hot, humid air from releasing into your house.
7. Use a Dehumidifier
High humidity levels cause your home to feel cool but clammy, tempting you to lower the temperature. A dehumidifier takes away excessive moisture, making your home feel cooler and more comfortable while consuming substantially less electricity than operating the air conditioner.
8. Install Your Outdoor AC Unit in the Shade
The outdoor unit’s location affects its effectiveness significantly. Installing it on your home’s north or east side shades the equipment 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 getting a screen to shade it. Just be sure that any plant or structure you add doesn’t hamper airflow.
9. Save Your Chores for the Evening
Cooking, laundry and dishwashing create indoor heat gain, making your AC 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 blocks airflow and increases energy consumption, so be sure to exchange it regularly to promote superior performance. Most basic filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, but consult 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 areas like the attic, crawl space or garage. Sealing and insulating your ductwork increases system efficiency and reduces energy expenses.
12. Schedule Preventative AC Maintenance
Regular tune-ups are crucial to keep your AC running efficiently. Use an accredited professional to inspect, clean and service your system every spring. This proactive measure extends your AC’s life span, reduces energy consumption, and allows the technician to find and fix potential issues before they become expensive problems.
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