13 Air Conditioning Efficiency Tips for Homeowners

You might not think twice about revving up the air conditioning when it’s hot outside—until you see your electric bill. Air conditioning accounts for about 12% of the average U.S. home’s yearly energy expenses and up to 70% of your utility costs during the summer. If you’re sick of paying too much for air conditioning, follow these 13 tips to improve AC efficiency and save money on your monthly bills.

    1. Prioritize routine upkeep: Dirt and debris accumulate in your air conditioner over time, reducing efficiency. Schedule annual maintenance to have a specialist clean your unit’s coils, replace the filter, tighten electrical connections, lubricate moving parts and more. A yearly inspection also allows your technician to find and fix any potential issues before they become significant problems.
    1. Keep the outdoor unit free of obstructions: Loose trash and nearby plants growing around your air conditioner can restrict airflow and make the system work harder. Check the unit throughout the summer, pruning back vegetation and cleaning up debris as needed to keep your cooling system working correctly.
    1. Set up a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat permits you to set automatic temperatures based on your lifestyle. In the warm months, program a higher temperature when you’re away from your residence and have it resume a comfortable temperature before you get back. This reduces energy consumption and saves money without sacrificing comfort.
    1. Avoid overriding programmed settings: While you can always manually change the temperature on your programmable thermostat, try turning on a fan or shedding a layer of clothes before you change the setting. When you have to modify the temperature, do so by just a degree or two. Cranking down the temperature will never cool your home any faster and only serves to waste electricity.
    1. Use the auto fan setting: While fan-only mode moves air to keep rooms from becoming stuffy, HVAC professionals advocate using this setting sparingly. “Auto fan” is the more efficient setting because the blower only runs when the rest of the AC does, avoiding needless electricity waste.
    1. Stop solar heat gain: Closing blinds and curtains, putting in outdoor awnings and applying window film helps block the sun’s heat to keep your house cooler. These strategies are most useful on south- and west-facing windows where the sun shines right inside the house.
    1. Install the outdoor components in the shade: Direct sunlight can force your system to work harder and reduces efficiency. So if you can, position the condensing unit so it’s in the shade in the afternoon.
    1. Keep your air vents open: It’s a common misconception that closing the vents in rarely used rooms saves energy. Unfortunately, this throws off the supply and return air equilibrium, making your AC much less efficient. By and large, keep at least 80% of your registers open continuously and make sure no vents are obstructed by rugs, curtains or furniture.
    1. Use ceiling fans in conjunction with your air conditioner: Ceiling fans move air throughout the room, generating a wind chill effect that makes you feel about 4 degrees cooler. This could allow you to raise the temperature a few degrees without feeling unpleasant, dropping your dependence on the air conditioner and decreasing your bills.
    1. Use a dehumidifier: High humidity induces a “cool but clammy” feeling, which is an uncomfortable sensation that may compel you to routinely lower the temperature. In fact, you need less humidity, not cooler air. Running a whole-house dehumidifier removes excessive moisture, making your home feel more comfortable for a fraction of the cost of air conditioning.
    1. Use natural ventilation wisely: When it’s hot and humid outside, keep your windows and doors closed to restrict cool air from leaking out. If you are living in somewhere with cool summer evenings, open the windows and doors overnight to cool off the house naturally, reducing the strain on your air conditioner.
    1. Seal air leaks: Leaky windows and doors let hot summer air indoors even when closed, making it more difficult and more expensive to keep things cool. Seal leaks with caulk and weatherstripping to keep conditioned air in the house where it is supposed to be.
    1. Seal duct leaks: An average home loses 20% or more of the conditioned air flowing through it to leaks, holes and shoddily connected ducts. Hire a professional to seal your ductwork and put an end to this energy waste.

If you still have comfort troubles or extreme energy costs after implementing these tips, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for help. We are able to diagnose and repair air conditioning problems, provide preventative maintenance, or replace your outdated, poorly performing system with a new, high-efficiency model. For your confidence, we support everything we do with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! Call a Service Experts office near you today to learn more or request air conditioning services in North America.

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