It seems every year energy costs go up; so it is important to keep your energy bills down by increasing your air conditioning unit’s efficiency and decreasing the need for it. It is easy to test how efficient your air conditioner is. Simply run your unit for at least fifteen minutes when the outdoor temperature is above 80 degrees. Then, using an accurate thermometer, measure the difference in air temperature between the air exiting the supply ducts closest to the unit and the air drawn into the return ducts. The temperature difference should be between fifteen to twenty degrees.
If you find that your air conditioning unit is not as efficient as you like, consider trying some of the following steps that will either make it more efficient or decrease your home’s need for it.
1. Have your air conditioning unit inspected by a service technician. A technician can check the coolant levels, clean the coils, and check the airflow over the cooling coils, three things that can reduce your unit’s efficiency by up to forty percent.
2. Change or clean your filters monthly. Dirty filters restrict the airflow, making your air conditioners work harder to circulate air.
3. Clear away any obstructions and debris from around your appliance. This includes pruning any plant growth. There should be several feet of space around the unit in order for it to effectively draw air into its system.
4. Make certain that your clothes dryer is vented more than ten feet from your unit. Lint from your dryer will cling to the condensing coils and lower its efficiency.
5. Clean the coils on your air conditioner’s coils. Dirty coils can reduce your air conditioners performance by up to ten percent. Make sure you consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before doing any work. However, many units can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a garden hose (spray downward). If you have tough stains, try using a toothbrush. Always turn off the power before cleaning the unit and be careful not to damage the delicate coils.
6. Straighten any bent coil fins that might be blocking airflow. A “fin comb” can be purchased from any air conditioner wholesaler.
7. Shade your outdoor air conditioner unit. A shaded unit will stay cooler and have an easier time cooling the air. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a properly shaded unit is up to ten percent more efficient then one that is not shaded.
8. Insulate your ducts. Ducts can be sealed with mastic tape or sealer and then wrapped with low-cost, foil-faced, R08 rated fiberglass insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of insulating the ducts will be repaid in less than three years with the energy savings.
9. Have your ductwork professionally cleaned every few years. Obstructions in the ducts are almost as bad as leaks when it comes to reducing efficiency. Dirty ductwork can also clog evaporator coils, which will further reduce an air conditioner’s efficiency.
10. Do not block registers. This includes keeping furniture and drapes away from them as well as vacuuming them regularly.
11. Raise your temperature settings, especially when you are planning to be away for several hours. Each degree you raise your thermostat in the summer can lower your energy bill by up to nine percent.
12. Keep the unit fan set on “auto.” It is not necessary to run the fan constantly.
13. Use ceiling fans to keep air moving and circulate the air throughout your home.
14. Install a whole house fan. A whole house fan cools your house by drawing outdoor air inside through open windows and exhausting the hotter air from your house outside through the attic. These can lower the indoor temperature by up to ten degrees in a few minutes.
15. Check that your attic is properly ventilated. An improperly vented attic can raise your cooling costs by up to ten percent.
16. Use blinds or drapes to shade any south or west facing windows during the hottest parts of the day. If you do not want to cover the window, consider solar shade screens, which have a special weave that blocks sunlight without necessarily blocking the view.
17. Turn off lights that are not needed.
18. Do not use heat-producing appliances such as your oven, dishwasher, or clothes dryer until late in the evening.
19. Use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture level in your home.
20. Check your home for any unwanted air leaks. Air leaks usually account for thirty percent of a home’s cooling costs. Specifically check the holes around plumbing, wiring, doors, and windows.
Most of these suggestions will help you keep your home cool without raising your energy bill. After all, it is hard to stay cool when your blood is boiling every time you sit down to pay your bills.