Cheap Tips for Slashing Cooling Costs
The cost of electricity continues to rise, and most homeowners can't afford to waste energy. Operating an air conditioner can account for up to 60 percent of summer utility costs, so it is important to implement a comprehensive energy savings strategy.
Calculating Air Conditioning Costs
Establishing the cost of running your air conditioner can serve as motivation for developing a plan and staying disciplined. Take the last three electric bills for consecutive fall or winter months and average them together. Do the same for last year's summer months when your AC system was working regularly. Subtract the average of the off months from the active months. The resulting total will be the approximate monthly cost of running your air conditioner.
Cheap Tips for Slashing Cooling Costs
While energy is expensive, homeowners can adopt a number of simple techniques that will significantly lower summer electricity consumption without sacrificing indoor comfort.
- Thermostat Settings: The easiest way to save energy in the summer is to raise the thermostat setting on your AC unit. The Department of Energy estimates that homeowners can save 3-4 percent by raising the temperature setting one degree. For the ultimate in temperature contouring, consider installing a programmable thermostat. A setback model can save up to 30 percent on AC operating costs when used correctly.
- Preventative Maintenance: Preventative maintenance is an inexpensive investment that will improve efficiency, enhance comfort and extend the lifecycle of your equipment. HVAC technicians visit your home on a semiannual basis to perform a wide array of tests, cleanings, inspections and calibrations that will optimize your AC unit and uncover minor problems before they can degrade system performance.
- Air Filter Changes: When filters are clogged, airflow is restricted. This forces your air conditioner to cycle longer in order to meet the indoor load, which results in higher electric bills. Dirty filters can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Most HVAC technicians recommend changing disposable filters every month and advanced media filters on a quarterly basis. To enhance system performance and longevity, consider replacing your cheap fiberglass filter with a pleated filter that has a rating of MERV 4-7.
- Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to stay comfortable and save energy. Most fans use about 60 watts of electricity while air conditioners consume around 3500 watts. Fans help mix the air, which creates an even temperature throughout the building. Since ceiling fans remove heat from you body, the AC thermostat can be raised without changing comfort perception.
- Add Additional Insulation: Many homes built before the mid 2000s have inadequate levels of insulation. Attic insulation upgrades reinforce the thermal barrier in your home, which helps keep cool air from escaping. Insulation remains the most cost effective efficiency upgrade and provides the shortest payback period when compared to other energy-related improvements.
- Window Treatments: Glass is the primary source of thermal gain in a home, especially if windows have a west, east or south orientation. Single pane glass is particularly inefficient, and applying a screen or film can provide substantial savings on air conditioning costs. Solar screens are applied to the outside of the window and are available in efficiencies up to 90 percent. Window film is a less costly alternative, but it is applied to the inside of the glass, which slightly degrades efficiency.
Saving Money with Simple Techniques
Always try and close your blinds whenever possible, and cooking outdoors will keep oven heat from building up inside your home. To learn more energy savings tips and tricks, we encourage you to contact one of the HVAC contractors associated with our website.