Air Conditioner Energy Savings
Posted by Norman Fong
Housing accounts for 20% of total US energy use with heating and cooling consuming a whopping 44% of residential energy use. Air conditioning accounts for nearly 60% of Americans’ electricity bill during the summer. The time is now to help reduce your cooling costs.
Optimizing your home
Do everything you can to prevent extra heat from being generated in your house.
- Close the blinds or curtains
- Use heat generating appliances like the stove, washer, and dryer at night
- Switch to CFL light bulbs
- Plant deciduous trees with high spreading crown or vine on trellis towards the South of the house to achieve summer shading
- Roof eave or awnings help provide shade
- Paint your roof a light color to reflect the sun
- Insulate your attic and eliminate any leaks in duct work
- Shade your air conditioner compressor so that it will be more efficient
- Install insulated windows. Consider heavy mesh solar screens.
- Consider a ceiling fan that allows you to lower AC temperatures
- Install a whole house fan, if temperatures fall at night
Optimize your air conditioning
Air conditioners use a ton of energy and cost a bundle to operate. You can save a ton of money by optimizing its usage. Easily save $200 a year. The average household will spend over $1100 staying cool during the summer. This cost just keeps going straight up. Lower your cooling costs by up to 10% by raising air conditioners settings 6 degrees higher when you set your thermostat between 70 and 85.
If you do not have a programmable thermostat, install one right away. Also keep your air conditioner in tune. Clean the air conditioner’s filters monthly. Make sure nothing is blocking the unit, inside or outside. Close window coverings to prevent the sun from warming rooms.
We realized that we were not optimally using setting on our thermostat when we saw some tips that result in lower energy use. We would set the air conditioner thermostat to the desired temperature of 78 degrees when it was hot outside. Many people will prefer 72 degrees, but we are trying to save energy. You need to play with the thermostat, adjust it slowly upwards, and figure out what you can bear.
If you have zones, set zones which are not occupied to higher temperatures. Set it to raise temperatures at night and as temperatures start falling.
Buying a new air conditioner
- Consider a new energy-efficient unit if your your conditioner is at least 10 years old. A new one may save you 20% to 40% off your bills
- If you need to buy a new unit, consider one with a high Energy Efficiency ratio (EER) of 10.7 or higher and which meet Energy Star requirements. Look for 13 or more for central air conditioners
- Apply for any Federal tax credit or utility company rebates if they are available
Maintain your air conditioner
- Inspect, clean or change the system’s air filters once a month to maximize efficiency and keep costs down.
- Have your air-conditioner tuneup once a year.
Life hacker has some tips on air conditioning, including putting a bowl of cold water with lots of ice in front of a fan.
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