Saving energy means saving money — and during the hottest months of the year when air conditioning use goes into overdrive, knowing a few ways to conserve energy can help make a big difference when it comes time to pay your cooling bills.
Don’t have your air conditioner do all the work on its own
- Give it a little help by boosting the flow of cooled air with a ceiling fan or even a floor fan in front of a main vent. While the fan doesn’t actually make the air any cooler, it can make it feel cooler by several degrees because of the wind chill effect. Remember to turn that fan off when you’re not in the room however, because then it’s just wasted electricity.
- Another way to help your air conditioner is by keeping the vents free from blockage. Move furniture that may be in the way of optimum air flow and you’ll be surprised at the difference you feel. If you have a chair that simply must go in a spot over a register, use one of the plastic air deflectors you can purchase at any hardware store.
- Closing curtains and blinds during the hottest part of the day also gives your air conditioner a little help. If you hang blinds or shades as close to the window as possible, it enables them to block outside heat from getting inside. Smart management of your window treatments can reduce heat gain up to 77 percent.
- Make sure you’re not losing your cooled air. Seal cracks and add caulk or weather-stripping around leaky doors or windows to keep cool air in and warm air out.
- Keep your air conditioner from having to work harder by avoiding heat-generating activities such as cooking on the stovetop and oven, using the dishwasher, drying clothes, or taking hot showers and baths. Save those activities until the temperatures drop at night. And remember to use your bathroom exhaust fan to remove the excess heat and humidity when you bathe.
Economic use of your cooling system
- When temperatures soar outside, it’s nice to have a cooler interior, but try to set your thermostat as high as is comfortable. The US Department of Energy recommends keeping it set at 78°F (26°C) when you are home, and a few degrees higher when you are away. That may seem high but remember that the smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the less energy consumed. Keeping the temperature at 78ºF instead of 72ºF, for example, could save you as much as 18 percent.
- Don’t give in to the temptation to turn the AC way down to cool the house “more quickly” when you’ve been away, and it feels hot and stuffy. Not only will it fail to cool rooms faster, you’re more likely to leave it turned too low and waste energy.
- Keep your cooling system healthy by having it maintained regularly. Dirty air filters block air flow and make it harder for your air conditioner to do its job. Make sure the outside evaporator and condenser coils are free of dirt, dust, and debris for the same reason.
To keep your cooling system properly maintained and working at peak performance, have a local HVAC company inspect and maintain it regularly. The investment pays off by saving you on energy consumption and increasing the life of your equipment.