Recent studies have shown that approximately 90% of homeowners located here in the US have some type of air conditioning system in their homes. Home cooling can account for a large portion of the energy used during the summer months. So, it should come as no surprise that many people are interested in how to maintain their home comfort without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at six ways that you can make your AC system more efficient and save money on your energy bills.
Identifying Poor Energy Efficiency Issues
Before we get to our energy saving tips, it’s worth investigating how you can tell if your air conditioning isn’t operating as efficiently as it should be. The first thing to look for is an increase in your overall utility costs when the weather is warmer. If you keep a track of your energy consumption, you will notice when the bills start to rise. Compare months on a like for like basis to get an accurate picture of how much energy your AC system is consuming.
Another thing to look out for is short cycling when the AC system is switching on and off quickly. This can be caused by a number of problems, such as an incorrectly sized AC system, a faulty thermostat, safety switches, and a loss of power. When the equipment turns on and off repeatedly, it will consume more energy, but it will also introduce stress into the system. This can lead to component failures and system failures that can be expensive to fix.
If you notice either of these problems, it’s important to contact your local HVAC specialist and get them to investigate. Both of these problems are a sure sign that there is something wrong, and the situation will only get worse over time. Let’s take a look at some ways to make your AC system more energy efficient.
1. Cleaning the Outdoor Unit
The air conditioning system has an indoor and outdoor unit. The outdoor unit is where the condenser is located, and this needs to be clean to remove heat from your home efficiently. Over the course of the colder seasons, the surface of the outdoor unit and the condenser coils can become coated with dirt, dust, and debris. This material will prevent your outdoor unit from working at an optimal level. It’s also a good idea to clear away any obstructions around the outdoor unit, including plant growth, yard furniture, ladders, and other items. Cut back any tree branches or shrubs in the area to allow the air to flow in and around the outdoor unit.
2. Clearing Your Vents
The treated air is delivered through the home until it arrives at the vents. Some people close their vents in rooms that are not in regular use or block them with drapes and furniture. This is a bad idea, it doesn’t save money on energy bills, and in many cases, it does the exact opposite. This is because the AC system will need to work harder to deliver the air, and this can lead to an expensive repair. If the vents are dirty or dusty, they can also affect the delivery of treated air and lower the indoor air quality (IAQ).
3. Close Doors and Windows
Any loss of treated air will make the AC system less efficient and drive up your energy bill. One of the easiest ways to prevent this is to close your doors and windows when the AC system is turned on. It is a good idea to get some fresh air into your home to improve the IAQ. But, the best time to do this is at night or early in the morning when the heat is less of an issue. Then you can turn the AC system on later and circulate fresher air with the doors and windows closed.
4. Check for Air Leaks
As we mentioned above, the loss of treated air makes the entire AC system less efficient. When you’ve paid for the energy to remove the heat and the cooler air can escape, you’re simply wasting money for no reason. The prime locations for an air leak are the spaces around the windows and doors and in your attic space. Air leaks are easy to fix with weather strips or duct tape if you have a ductwork leak. But, these can be temporary repairs, and if you have significant air leaks, it’s a good idea to contact your local HVAC professional for expert help.
5. Checking and Changing Air Filters
The air filters in your HVAC system can improve the IAQ, but that is not their primary purpose. These units are designed to trap particulates, such as dust, dirt, and debris that would otherwise enter the system where it could damage sensitive components. The heating and cooling equipment relies on a steady airflow to distribute the treated air throughout your home. When the air filter is clogged, the level of airflow is diminished, and the system will attempt to compensate by working harder. When any system is overworked, it’s more prone to component failures, and in extreme circumstances, a system failure may occur. This can lead to a succession of expensive repairs and even an entire replacement. Another consequence of overworked equipment is that it consumes more energy for no purpose. This is a very easy problem to avoid if you simply replace or clean the air filter regularly. The exact method will vary depending on the AC system that you have, and full details can be found in your owner’s manual.
6. Regular Maintenance
When you purchase and install an AC system in your home, it represents a significant investment in your indoor comfort. It makes good sense to protect your investment with regularly scheduled maintenance before the start of the cooling season. Heating and cooling equipment is complex; it has electronic, mechanical, and electrical components. These systems work hard, and they need to be checked to ensure that they are running efficiently. An AC system that’s regularly serviced is less likely to fail when you need it most, smaller issues can be fixed earlier to save money, and it will be more energy efficient.
If you want to schedule some essential maintenance for your AC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.