The air conditioner helps keep your home cool and comfortable during hot and humid days. The hot temperatures however mean the AC system has to run all day, every day, which again translates to higher energy bills. You don’t have to pay top dollar for your cooling needs. Identifying factors that could be causing your air conditioner to strain, or gobble up energy, and looking for solutions for the same, can help lower your energy consumption significantly. Factors such as an old and worn out air conditioner, heat gain, a malfunctioning thermostat, or overworking the AC could also be the reason for huge energy bills. Outlined below are a few simple ways and tricks to help improve your AC system’s energy efficiency.
- Invest In A Programmable Or Smart Thermostat
The regular thermostat enables you to set the optimal temperature, after which the AC system will keep cycling all day and night. This means the AC will keep working even when temperatures are cooler (especially at night), translating to unnecessary energy consumption and bill. A programmable or smart thermostat or saver mode however can be programmed to turn the AC off when temperatures are lower or even switch off the AC system if no one is home. With a programmable thermostat, you will be able to define times when the AC system should come on, and when to go off. A smart thermostat will also sense temperature and readjust the AC accordingly to eliminate unnecessary energy wastage. Switching to a programmable/smart thermostat could see you save lots of money in the long run.
- Protect Your Home From Heat Gain (Or The Sun)
Planting shady trees and shrubs around your home, and especially outside southward facing windows can help prevent heat gain, hence no need to turn the AC all the way up. While the shrubs and trees might help prevent heat gain, you still need to invest in full-length blackout curtains/drapes to keep the heat out. Awnings over the windows would also be a wise idea, especially during summer when the sun is at its hottest. Although some of these measures may seem unrelated to your AC; it is by keeping your home cool and protected from unnecessary heat that the AC system won’t cycle frequently, thus reduced energy consumption.
- Ensure The AC Systems Are Serviced Regularly
An energy-efficient air conditioner and a smart/programmable thermostat aren’t enough especially if you don’t take proper care of the equipment as a whole. Like any other equipment with movable parts, the AC is prone to wear and tear, commonly caused by blocked air vents, filters, and a malfunctioning condenser among other factors. You thus need to ensure each component/part is in its best condition for the AC system to function optimally. Blocked air filters, a malfunctioning condenser, or even broken fan blades could cause the system to strain as it tries to keep your home cool. Ensuring the air vents and fan are clean, and having a certified technician service the AC system at least twice per year can help keep it in its optimal working condition, hence reduced energy consumption. The evaporator and outdoor unit too need to be kept in a clean environment, clear from any debris. Make a habit of clipping any foliage around the unit to prevent blockage with the same.
- Run Ceiling Fans As Well
Do you have ceiling fans already installed in your house? When used alongside your AC system, ceiling fans can help keep indoor temperatures lower, reducing the load on your AC system. If you already have fans in each room, you can then raise temperature settings on the thermostat at least 5 degrees higher, then turn the fans on. Ceiling fans, even at the lowest settings, help circulate the cool air more efficiently allowing the room to stay cool even when the thermostat is set at a higher temperature. Although you might not know this, the fan alone can help lower room temperature by up to 10 degrees, which is a significant drop considering their energy usage. Make a habit of running the fans first before turning the AC system on. Doing so could see your cooling bills drop significantly.
- Ensure Your Home Is Well Insulated
Proper and adequate insulation is necessary especially if you are to create a micro-climate in your home. An adequately insulated home will remain cool in summer even when temperatures are at record highs, and warmer during the winter. This is because your home doesn’t suffer/experience air/heat gain/loss from drapes or gaps between windows, the door, or even the attic. That said, your AC system won’t have to struggle to keep temperatures down thus reduced energy consumption. The first step to making your home more energy efficient is by calling an expert for an energy audit or inspection.
Some of the areas you need to pay attention to when insulating your home are the attic, the windows, and doors. Having the attic insulated properly, for example, will help prevent heat gain from the roof. The roof contributes to around 30% of heat gain in almost every home. Having the attic insulated adequately, and investing in attic fans could however help prevent the heat gain.
Windows and doors are another area you need/have to check to ensure they are properly insulated. If still on the traditional single-paned windows, then chances are much of the heat is passing through the panes and directly into your home. It is for this reason you need to start investing in more energy-efficient, double glazed or triple glazed windows and doors. Double-glazed windows, for example, help keep warm air out leaving your home at the desired temperature. The doors too need to be weatherproofed to ensure no drapes of air get inside the house.
Taking all the factors outlined above into consideration, and acting on them, can help lower your heating and cooling bills significantly. An energy-efficient air conditioner might not be enough to lower your energy bills. You still need to protect your home from heat gain, ensure the AC system is serviced regularly and properly maintained, and take advantage of modern technology (e.g. smart thermostats) to see lower energy bills. An energy audit will help identify areas energy is wasted in your home, and probably a way around it.