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Modern air conditioners are tremendously energy-efficient. In comparison to older models, they can help you save money while keeping your home comfortably cool.
But no matter how efficient the appliance, air conditioning costs will still comprise a significant portion of your summertime energy costs. Fortunately, there are several actions you can take that will reduce your cooling load and lower your utility bills noticeably …
Studies show that regular use of a ceiling fan can make rooms feel 5-7 degrees cooler, even when the air conditioner is turned off. Meanwhile, air conditioners used in conjunction with ceiling fans can be set seven or eight degrees higher, thanks to the improvements in air circulation.
Ceiling fans are pleasant and effective because they keep air circulating steadily without causing bothersome breezes. Be sure to set them to rotate counterclockwise in the summer, so they push air down instead of drawing it up.
To test your own limits, you should try running your air conditioner at incrementally higher settings in hot weather. You might discover that you feel comfortable at higher temperatures than you imagined.
However, the best way to increase air conditioning efficiency is to install a programmable thermostat. These ingenious devices, which often come with WiFi compatibility, allow for precise minute-to-minute control of indoor air temperatures. You can program your air conditioner to run at higher settings when you’re sleeping of away from home, which can reduce your monthly energy bills by 10-15 percent.
Like clockwork, you should arrange for biannual maintenance inspections of your heating and cooling system. The ideal time for maintenance visits is in the spring and fall, right before the cooling and heating seasons start.
During your spring maintenance visit, an HVAC technician will check your cooling system and equipment for any signs of malfunction or excessive accumulation of grime, dust or dirt. The technician’s job is to clean what needs to be cleaned and replace what needs to be replaced, to make sure your air conditioner keeps functioning at peak efficiency.
Air filters prevent dust and debris from contaminating your ductwork and blocking air flow. Anything that blocks air flow will force air conditioners to work harder and therefore waste energy.
But if you leave them in too long, air filters can become clogged and block the air flow themselves. By replacing your air filters every 1-3 months (check the manufacturer’s recommendations), you can keep the cool air flowing freely. This will leave you with a lower utility bill each month all summer long.
Depending on how leaky your doors and windows are, leaving them unsealed could boost your energy bills by 10 percent or more each month.
The good news is that sealing cracks and crevices around doors and windows is one of the easiest DIY home improvement tasks you can perform. A combination of weatherstripping and caulking will usually do the trick. Just make sure you’re thorough and check each and every door and window in your home for any signs of damage or misalignment. Even small openings can leak like sieves.
Hot air rises, which is why upstairs rooms will almost inevitably be warmer.
One of the best ways to stay cool in the summer, even without air conditioning, is to convert your basement into a living, like a bedroom or a recreational room. Basement rec rooms were all the rage in the 1970s, and if you’re serious about saving money on air conditioning costs you could help bring them back.
As it ages, ductwork will develop leaks. HVAC systems will inevitably have to work harder to pump air through leaky ducts, which can elevate your energy bills by up to 20 percent if multiple leaks are present.
If ductwork is exposed, you may be able to spot some of the leaks yourself. You can repair them with duct tape or water-based duct sealant, which can be applied with a paintbrush. But for ductwork that runs through inaccessible spaces you’ll likely need professional help.
To nip this problem in the bud, you should arrange for an annual inspection by an HVAC technician, who can detect and repair leaks in ductwork you can’t reach. It might be best to have this inspection done in the middle of the cooling season, separately from your annual spring maintenance visit.
Solar heat gain through windows, especially those that face the south, can significantly increase indoor air temperatures and put quite a bit of extra strain on your air conditioner. But if you keep your window coverings closed or shut, it can cut solar gain (and your energy bills) by up to half and make rooms adjacent to windows far more comfortable to occupy.
Shades should be hung as close to the window pane as possible. This helps block heat penetration. Also, when buying new curtains or shades you should always choose light colors. They will reflect rather than absorb the Sun’s rays.
At ABE Heating and Cooling we know all the ins and outs of air conditioning. If you contact us we can recommend further actions that can reduce your summertime energy costs. Our highly-trained technicians can offer the very best in professional maintenance and inspection services as well, and we encourage you to call today to make schedule your spring maintenance and inspection visit. We are located in Brighton, Colorado and serve the entire Denver Metro Area.