Top Air Conditioning Tips to Save Energy
Shut that door! Are you trying to cool the entire neighborhood? You likely grew up hearing your parents repeatedly say this about your home air conditioner. Now it’s your turn. You are the homeowner and you are probably yelling the same thing to your own kids.
Our Texas summers are brutal. With temperatures in the triple digits and the humidity added to that, you can feel as if you are swimming in a soup bowl. Air conditioning is a necessity; you can’t survive the heat without it, but that can come with a steep energy bill. Don’t sweat it. There are ways to save energy and save your voice at the same time. Let’s jump in.
The Lights Are On, But…
If people are not in your home during the day, turn your AC up and close the blinds and drapes. If you have a programmable thermostat, set the temp to cool about 20 minutes before you get home. It might be hot for a few minutes when you get home, but the extra savings will be worth it. Don’t keep your unit working overtime if no one is at home.
Also be sure to close off vents in rooms you are not using. If you have a basement, this is traditionally the coolest room in the home naturally, so close all the vents. Remember that heat rises, so cool air will naturally creep down to your lower floors anyway.
You can also turn your AC up at night. Sure, you still want to sleep comfortably but during sleeping hours, you don’t need the same level of “conscious cool” that you need during the day. Many programmable thermostats have a sleep mode that runs your AC less during sleeping hours.
And Speaking of Lighting…
Turn as many lights off as you can to significantly reduce heat during the day in your home. You also might be letting a lot of light and heat in through windows, so it is worth the time to close your blinds every day during the intense sunlit hours. Do it for a while and you will notice a huge difference in your AC bill.
Service With A Smile
One of the best things you can do is service your unit. Every spring, before it gets too hot, do some basic maintenance to keep your AC unit running efficiently. First hose out your unit to remove dead leaves, pine cones and sticks to keep the filters clear. Call your AC professional to do a health check on the units to make sure they are in tip-top shape before the heat descends on Texas.
While you’re at it, check your ducts to make sure they are properly insulated to keep the air as cool as it can be.
Furniture Feng Shui
Rearranging furniture doesn’t usually come to mind when you think about air
conditioning efficiency, but it can make a real difference. Furniture that is blocking a vent can really obstruct airflow. You might be cooling the back of a chair and that’s it! If rearranging the sofa is not an option, you can still redirect airflow. Most home improvement stores sell plastic vent clips that attach to force air in the right direction.
A good rule of thumb is to run your AC at 78 degrees. At this temperature, the AC runs at optimal performance. Think of it like your car’s cruise control. You want your AC on cruise control and not working to struggle going uphill, so you can do that if you set your thermostat to a few degrees higher.
Seriously consider upgrading to a smart thermostat like Nest or others. They regulate heating and cooling when you’re not home. You can even adjust the settings using an app on your phone, and many of the smart thermostats are designed to work with Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
While there is an up-front investment, these units quickly pay for themselves and you will save money in the long run.
Even if you don’t have a smart thermostat, did you know that correct wall placement of a thermostat plays a big role in how well your AC works? Many homeowners do not know this, but if you place your thermostat on a wall right next to a window, the AC will kick on much more often because the thermostat will read the room to be hotter than it actually is.
Quit Cooling The Neighborhood!
When your parents said this, they basically meant for you to shut the back door. Today, you might be cooling the neighborhood with cool air that is seeping out of your home through door and windows that are improperly sealed. Even worse, your attic may be very poorly insulated. This is particularly true of older homes, and in fact can happen to any home unless it is basically brand new.
Get a home energy audit from Preferred Climate Solutions. We will send a certified home energy auditor to check your home for air leaks, then we will make recommendations on the best way to make your home more energy-efficient. You can do a small audit yourself by standing outside your home and running your hands along with windows and doors. If you feel cold air escaping, you need to seal up those leaky windows with caulk and add insulation around your doors.
Fans and Portable Units
So many people have ceiling fans but don’t use them. The help of a good fan to redistribute and circulate cool air means that you don’t have to generate as much cool air coming into the room. Fans use much less energy than the air conditioner, so make sure to use them if you have them. Don’t have ceiling fans? Use a portable fan to accomplish the same thing.
If you have a central AC unit but don’t need to cool your whole space, consider a portable unit to cool the area you need to cool. These units use half the energy that a large central AC unit does.