Being cool with energy efficiency

Central Air Conditioning Unit

Most people do not look forward to paying their energy bill, especially during the summer months. Applying some energy efficiency strategies to cool your home can make it much more bearable. With a few tips, a little work and some perseverance, you can take some of the bite out of that bill.

Air conditioning is top-of-mind when thinking about your summer energy bill. Cooling your home is essential to keeping your family comfortable during these hot months, but don’t neglect the needs of your air conditioning system. Overlooking its care can cost you. These tips will help ensure your cooling system performs more efficiently.

  • Humidity can affect how comfortable the air temperature is. Use exhaust fans in the bathroom or kitchen to rid the rooms of unwanted moisture. The humidity level can be further improved by using a dehumidifier.

  • Air conditioners may not be necessary at times when the heat is not at its peak. Use ceiling fans instead.

  • Your home’s central air system should be serviced by a qualified technician once each year to ensure it is running correctly. Repeatedly failing to do so can reduce its lifespan and increase its energy consumption.

  • Clean or replace air conditioning filters every one or two months. A clean air filter can be between 5 percent and 15 percent more efficient. This may need to be done sooner if you have any furry friends in the house, or if the outside air is frequently dusty.

  • Clean the area surrounding your outside central air unit (condenser) so it is free of debris, dirt and vegetation. Additionally, if your technician does not clean the outside coils during your annual inspection, this is something you can easily do yourself. To do this, first make sure the air conditioner is off. Then use a hose to spray the coils from the top down, removing any dirt or debris. If you have cottonwood trees in the area, it is likely that you will have a layer of cotton stuck to the coils as well. Removing these obstructions will allow for proper air circulation and will help the equipment last longer and run more efficiently.

  • Central air units should be installed on the east or north side of a house to limit exposure to the sun during its hottest times of the day. The compressor works harder when the surrounding air temperature is warmer. Air temperature can be further reduced by planting shrubs or trees around the unit to block more sun.

  • Keep indoor air vents free from obstructions to ensure the cool air can reach the rest of the room.

  • Use a microwave or grill to cook instead of using the stove or oven. Doing so prevents the air conditioner from working as hard to overcome the heat those appliances emit.

  • Do not set the thermostat lower than what you would like the air temperature to be. This does not cool the air any faster and causes the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Further savings can be seen by setting the thermostat 5 degrees higher than normal.

  • Programmable thermostats are ideal for regulating the temperature in your home. When programmed correctly, you can customize when and at what temperature your air conditioning runs.

  • Ensure windows or doors are well-sealed to prevent cool air from escaping your home.

Following these steps are just a few ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. To learn more about how you can save energy all year, click any of the three buttons on the upper-left portion of this page labeled no-cost, low-cost and investment to view a collection of tips about energy efficiency.

Some information provided by Energy Savers.