In recent years, we have all become more aware of the costs of energy. During the cooling season, the AC system usage accounts for a large portion of the energy bills. So, it makes good sense to understand how energy is wasted and what you can do to prevent it. In this article, we will take a closer look at air conditioning efficiency and how you can save more energy without compromising on your indoor home comfort.
How Important is Energy Efficiency?
Approximately 87% of U.S. homes have an AC system of some sort installed. According to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA,) average AC running costs are 12% of the total home energy expenditure.
This system delivers treated air to the specific room in the case of a window unit or throughout the home in a central system. If the HVAC equipment is well maintained, the energy use for cooling can be lowered by 15-40% which is a significant saving. So, investing in regularly scheduled maintenance is a good choice because you can lower your energy bills and protect the system.
5 Tips to Improve AC System Energy Efficiency
Now that you have a better understanding of the impact of AC system use on energy efficiency it’s natural to seek ways to lower the energy bills. Let’s take a look at five proven tips in more detail:
1. Check the Air Filters Regularly
The primary function of HVAC air filters is to protect the sensitive components deeper in the system against damage. Any minor improvements to the indoor air quality (IAQ) should be considered to be a secondary benefit.
During a typical day of cooling, the indoor air will be cycled through the air filter multiple times. The air collects a wide variety of airborne contaminants including dust, dirt, pet dander, dust mites, and more. It’s important to check the air filter every month for holes, tears, and a buildup of debris. Replacing the filter regularly will protect the system and increase the AC energy efficiency by 5-15%.
2. Clean the Cooling Coils
If the cooling coils are dirty, the efficiency will be degraded and this is an easy job to tackle if you’re prepared. To begin, turn the thermostat off or raise the temperature to prevent the AC system from turning on when you’re cleaning the unit. It’s also a great idea to turn off the central air outdoor unit breaker too. Use a gentle household cleaner to remove the dirt and debris on the coils. Then rinse the coils with clean water and make sure that the unit is completely dry before the power is restored.
3. Contact Your Local AC Maintenance Specialist
Scheduling regular essential maintenance is the best way to protect your investment. After installation, an AC system will lose a little performance and efficiency every year. But, it is possible to offset most of these losses with a regular checkup and maintenance. During a maintenance visit, the technician will check the refrigerant pressure, lubricate moving parts, clean the evaporator and condenser coils, and more. An annual service should take place before the cooling season begins to ensure that the AC system is less likely to fail when you need it most.
4. Change the Settings at Night
As the heat and humidity drop at night, it’s a great idea to change the settings to fan and open the exhaust to draw fresh and cool outdoor air into the home. This will improve the IAQ and from a cooling perspective, it’s a simple way to lower the energy bills.
5. Consider a Central AC System Installation
According to most experts central air conditioning systems have superior efficiency in comparison to window units. But, window air conditioners use less energy and there are good reasons for this. First, many people set their thermostats on central air conditioners to make rooms cooler than window unit users.
A central AC system will cool the entire home and this wastes more energy than window units that are not typically used in an unoccupied room. Another key consideration is that it’s less expensive to install a few window units than the central air installation costs. Those using window units tend to turn them off when they leave the home and central air users tend to leave the system running throughout the day. But, if your home would need multiple units and you live in a larger home, there is a good case to be made for a central AC system installation.
How to Lower Air Conditioning Energy Costs
There are two supplementary ways to reduce the running costs of your AC system:
1. Reduce Sunlight Exposure
Sunlight can generate a lot of heat quickly in any room and this is especially true in rooms with south-facing windows. Using drapes, blinds, and curtains to prevent the sunshine from streaming into an unoccupied room is a great way to support your AC system.
The temperature differential that the system will need to overcome to make the room comfortable is minimized. Another key area to look at is the outdoor unit which may be exposed to a lot of sunlight which will degrade the cooling efficiency. The unit can be shaded with a fence, planted shrubs, trees, and more. But, it’s important to leave some space around the outdoor unit for air circulation purposes. Before you place an indoor AC unit in a window, check which ones receive the least direct sunlight exposure.
2. Using Fans
Using ceiling or standing fans is a great way to circulate treated air to make the room feel even cooler. This wind chill effect of 2º or 3º may seem insignificant, but it’s cheaper to run a fan than adjust the AC system to the same degree. So, if you raise the thermostat by a small margin and turn the fans on low you can get the same cooling performance and use less energy.
If you want to schedule some essential maintenance for your AC system, contact your local cooling specialist today.