With scorching summer temperatures, it’s no surprise that Texans spend about 25 percent of their energy consumption on air conditioning each year. In homes, we use more energy to run the AC than any other singular task including water heating, home heating and running the refrigerator. With so much energy going into cooling your home, we wanted to share seven ways to get the most out of your air conditioner.
1. Check that thermostat setting
When coming home after a long commute under the hot summer sun, the first thing you may want to do is put the AC on full blast, but setting your thermostat to a colder setting than normal will not help cool your home faster. The colder temperature setting will actually make your AC work harder unnecessarily, costing you more money as a result.
Even though you may be tempted to keep your thermostat at a low 72 degrees in the summer, the Department of Energy suggests that you keep the thermostat at a higher temperature. The closer your indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the lower your electricity bill will be.
To get the maximum savings on your energy bill, the Public Utility Commission of Texas suggests setting the thermostat at 78 degrees when you are home and 80+ degrees when you’re away during the hot months.
Also, keep appliances including lamps, computers and TVs away from the thermostat if possible. The heat from the appliances can raise the temperature near the thermostat and cause your AC to work harder than needed.
2. Get a fan
Does 78 degrees sound too warm? There’s a low-cost solution for that.
Turn on your ceiling fan or floor fan in any occupied room to cool you down. Fans help distribute the cool air your AC produces evenly and creates a wind-chill effect against your skin, making it feel anywhere from four degrees to six degrees cooler than the actual room temperature.
While fans do use electricity, they use considerably less than your AC unit. Utilizing fans can help you resist the urge to turn down your thermostat’s temperature, which will save you money. Just remember to turn off the fan before leaving the room since it doesn’t actually cool the air.
3. Seal those windows
Now that it’s hot out, you need to keep every bit of that cool air in the house. You can do this by sealing air leaks found in windows and doors and adding insulation to your attic and basement[CD1] , if your house has one. This quick, inexpensive project has an energy savings of up to 10 percent.
4. Install blinds or drapes
During the summer the last thing you want is direct sunlight streaming into your office or living room and heating up the place. Block the sun’s rays and reduce the amount of heat that enters your home by installing blinds or thick drapes. Keeping these decorative yet practical items closed will reduce the amount of radiant heat entering your home, giving your air conditioner a much-needed break.
5. Seal those ducts
Did you know about 20 percent of air moving through a duct system is lost because of leaks, holes or poorly connected ducts? Duct joints often become loose as a system ages, creating gaps in the system.
Sealing and insulating ducts help prevent loss of cool air and improve the air’s movement through the duct system. Homeowners can save up to 10 percent annually on their energy bill when they properly seal and insulate their ducts.
6. Get regular maintenance
If your energy bills are still creeping up, consider calling a professional. Energy Star recommends that you hire a certified technician to tune up your AC once a year to keep your equipment running efficiently.
7. Change your filters
Dirt and neglect are top causes of an air conditioner’s failure. One simple task you can do on your own to keep your AC clean is regularly changing your air filters. During summer, change it out at least once every one or two months.
Dirty filters prevent air from flowing and make your AC work harder to cool a room. Cleaner filters improve efficiency and reduce cooling costs and energy consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent.
As always, consider replacing your air conditioner with a more energy-efficient option. Current Energy Star-certified air conditioners are more than 15% more efficient than conventional models.
How do you know it’s time to replace your system? Other than an all-out breakdown, Energy Star has a checklist of questions you can answer to help you out.
Besides saving money on energy, an efficient and properly maintained air conditioner will serve you longer, since it doesn’t have to work overtime unnecessarily to keep you comfortable.
What do you do to maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency?