Tips On How To Save Money With Your A/C Energy Bill This Summer
Energy bills have a tendency to fluctuate in costs, especially during the seasonal temperature changes. During those warmer months the majority of people tend to crank up their air conditioners to cool down their homes or buildings as quickly as possible. This can cause a drastic increase to your energy bill and may cause some to immediately wonder how to cut costs. However, this doesn’t have to cost you your sanity. There are more simple steps you can take and trivial adjustments you can make in your day-to-day life that can assist in driving your energy costs down.
Save Energy Without Sweating It Out In The Summer Heat
- Stimulate better airflow in your home
Standing fans require much less power than your air conditioning system, and chances are you probably have at least one laying around the house. Though fans don’t cool or heat the air, they do move it around. You’ll want to situate the fans so they move the air around in the direction you would like it to go.
Cracks in which energy easily slips through are most commonly found around doors and windows. Sealing these areas with caulk and weather-stripping can reduce your energy costs by 15-30%.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room/let in less light
Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electricity bills. To save on your bill. whenever you walk out of a room be sure to turn the lights off or even lightening up on your wattage. If you’re spending time in a room that has enough natural light for you to function without turning the lights on, this can save you energy. However, the amount of light you let in from open windows can play a major role in your energy bill; it makes a vast difference in how much heat your AC is competing against.
- Plant shady landscape
Planting leafy trees around the building’s exterior will stop the sun from shining inside your home. If trees or shrubs shade your AC, you could increase your AC’s efficiency by up to 10%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy
- Types of trees that are best suited for shade:
- Deciduous Trees; blocks heat and rays from the sun during summer, but let in sunlight during winter months. Planting this type of tree to the south of your home will block 70-90% of the hot summer sun, while still permitting a breeze.
- Evergreen Trees and Shrubs; provides continuous shade all year round. Evergreen trees with crowns should be planted close to the ground and to the west of the home to take advantage of a tree that will provide shade from the afternoon sun and its low angles.
- Shrubbery, bushes, and climbing vines with a trellis; while these aren’t trees, strategically planting them in your backyard will provide shade to a patio or deck.
Do you live in a climate where temperatures cool off at night? If so, turn off your cooling system and open your windows before you go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.
- Do your laundry after 8PM
Believe it or not, some power companies actually offer discounted rates to use a portion of your power during off-peak hours. This plan will vary depending upon your power company and location. This method to save money will obviously only work if you’re okay with switching some of your chores to the later evening hours. If your only choice or option is to do the majority of your tasks during the day, then this probably wouldn’t be an ideal method for you.
- Load your dishwasher efficiently
Those people that are picky about how their dishes are situated in the dishwasher may not be so crazy after all. Turns out, where you place your dishes actually matters when it comes to wasting energy. The bottom rack is best for plates, which should face into the center of the dishwasher. Utensils should be placed in the designated carriage on the bottom rack, with handles at the bottom and sharp ends up. Bowls, cups, Tupperware and other plastics should be placed on the top row at a slanted, downward angle.
Summer Energy Saving Tips When Air Conditioning is a Must
Summer is a time most people look forward to. For those who dread the heat, sometimes the warmer temperatures aren’t ideal. If you’re one of these people your first thought may be to crank up the air conditioner. According to Energy Saver, air conditioners use about 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States, at an annual cost of more than $29 billion to homeowners.
We all need air conditioning to stay comfortable during the spiraling temperatures of the summer months. There are plenty of methods to reducing the costs of air conditioning when you can’t imagine living without it. Stay cool while saving energy with these tips!
- Use a ceiling/circulating fan, window or portable unit
Does your whole home need cooled? If you are planning to only spend time in one area the majority of the day or night, using a fan or portable unit to cool just that area is your best option to reduce costs. Ceiling fans allow you to surprisingly raise your air conditioner settings by as much as 8 degrees while still keeping your home just as cool as if you were solely using your AC unit. These types of units typically use up to 50% less energy than your larger central air unit to cool off the same area.
- Air Conditioning Prices to consider:
- Central AC unit: approximately $129.60/month
- Window AC unit: approximately $50.40/month
- Ceiling Fan: approximately $1.20/month
- Run your AC more economically
The smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures throughout the summer season, the less you’ll spend. If you set your AC as high as comfortably possible and use a programmable thermostat to increase temperature while you’re out or asleep, you could decrease your summer cooling bill by 10%.
- Maintain cooling systems
Proper care for your equipment is critical to reducing your cooling costs. Dirty AC filters block airflow and make units work harder to cool your home. Cleaning and/or replacing filters once per month will lower an AC’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. If you have a central cooling system, make sure that floor registers aren’t blocked with dust or furniture.
- Avoid heat buildup during the day
When the outdoor temperature exceeds the temperature inside your home, try to avoid activities that produce a lot of heat, such as cooking on the stovetop, using the dishwasher, or dryer. Suggestions to avoid these types of activities: microwave food, grill outside, wash dishes by hand, let clothes air-dry. These activities can also be saved until after dark when it’s cooled off a bit.
- Close curtains, blinds, shades
If you have highly reflective blinds, keeping them completely closes and lowered on a sunny window can reduce heat gain by around 45%. Light-colored treatments are most ideal; the lighter the hue, the more they’ll deflect the sun’s sweltering rays.
- Program your thermostat
If your air conditioner doesn’t have a timer, a programmable thermostat can be set to have the AC shut off when you’re away from your home. Instead of constantly fiddling with the controls, the thermostat can also be programmed to keep the temperature at one steady level during the day and another at night. Using a programmable thermostat can save you up to 10% on your year-round heating and cooling costs.
- Washing machines
Full and cold is better. With full loads you get a lot more for your money, and you run the machine less often. Avoid running the water heater, whether it’s for showers, dishwashers
- Keep the AC lower at night
The daytime is when your peak heat hours will occur. Since your body doesn’t require the same level of cool temperature at night, turning your AC down while sleeping or event putting it on a sleep mode timer, will help you keep energy costs down.
- Close off vents;
Because the basement is usually the coldest room in the home, closing all the vents in the lower portion of your house can control more of the air flow. The cool air will naturally find its way down there, but by closing the vents, the air will be forced to move up to the top first, cooling as it comes down.
- Look for ENERGY STAR
If you’re looking to purchase a new air conditioner, choose a product with the ENERGY STAR label. These room air conditioners use around 15% less energy than conventional models while central air conditioners use about 8% less, keeping more money in your pocket.
Common Air Conditioning Mistakes to Avoid
Your air conditioner comes in handy during those unbearably warmer summer months. While this device is an important aspect to our homes, many homeowners tend to make mistakes that reduce the effectiveness of the appliance, and sometimes even resulting in damage. We’ve compiled some of the most common air conditioning mistakes that are made, with suggestions as to how to avoid them.
- Hiding the unit
Because AC units tend to be unattractive, most people will attempt to hide them behind plants, furniture, etc. However, anything that blocks the unit will hinder ventilation, causing the unit to operate inefficiently. The condenser coils will begin to clog up which could cause your bills to increase excessively. Be sure to properly landscape to avoid any issues.
- Cranking the AC for immediate cooling
If you arrive home to a warm house, abruptly turning on the air conditioning units will cause the unit to work too hard, resulting to the consumption of more energy. Instead, try decreasing the temperature setting slowly or programming it to cool early if you have a thermostat for it.
- Not closing open spaces
Closing your windows and doors when your air conditioner is in use is essential. This will prevent outdoor air that may force your unit to work overtime from getting in.
- Not using your ceiling fan
If you have a ceiling fan, it is highly suggested that you use your ceiling fan to circulate the air. This will allow the unit to not have to work as hard. The combination of your window unit and a ceiling fan can help cool a room faster and keep it cool longer.
- Putting appliances near your thermostat
Heat-producing appliances, such as lamps, should not be placed near the thermostat. Doing so can make your thermostat think your home is warmer than it actually is, causing your air conditioner to run more often than it needs to.
- Improper thermostat placement
Putting your thermostat in the wrong place can raise your utility costs. Appropriate thermostat placement will allow for more energy efficient cooling while still providing comfort.
Buying the Right Window or Room Air Conditioner
With today’s variety of window and room air conditioner designs, they do a great job of cooling rooms or other confined spaces. When shopping for a new window or air conditioner, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind – choose a model that is appropriate for your room, one that will handle the job inexpensively, efficiently, and reliably.
About one-quarter of American households have in-room air conditioners. There are a number of factors that contribute to the popularity of this type of appliance:
- Affordability – smaller models can cost as low as $100. Large room air conditioners, with much greater cooling capabilities, can run up to $700.
- Efficiency – rather than the standard HIGH and LOW settings, newer units have variable digital controls. Energy-saver switches provide further assistance in reducing utility costs.
- Availability – the accessibility of these types of units is a positive aspect for customers. You can purchase these at most big-box home improvement stores, department stores, etc.
- Easy Installation – easy-to-use installation kits usually come with most window air conditioners. This allows for easy set-up and operation.
Types of Home AC Systems
- Window Units – Window air conditioners are the most popular models. These types can be installed in most single or double-hung windows and usually come with panels to help fit securely.
- Popular Air Conditioner Window Unit Brands
- Popular Air Conditioner Window Unit Brands
- Wall-Mounted Units – To use this type of air conditioner, opening a hole in an exterior wall is required. Though this unit requires more when it comes to installation, it doesn’t take up window space and it allows for a more sealed and secure fit.
- Popular Wall-Mounted Air Conditioner Brands
- Popular Wall-Mounted Air Conditioner Brands
- Portable Models – These units are freestanding, typically with casters so they can be wheeled around from space to space. To exhaust hot air, the portable units come with a large hose to attach to the window. Although this unit costs more than window and wall-mounted, their portability makes them more practical and much easier to install.
- Popular Portable Air Conditioner Brands
- Popular Portable Air Conditioner Brands
Room AC Energy Efficiency
One of the best ways to ensure efficiency is to buy the right size window, wall, or room air conditioner. For recommended sizing and units based on room type, refer to this article from Consumer Reports.
How many BTU’s do I need?
In case you’re not familiar with BTUs, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. The more BTUs an air conditioner pushes out, the stronger its cooling power. Most American consumers are unsure of how to translate BTUs into the square footage of a room. By downloading this Energy Star document, you can easily determine how many BTUs an hour it will take to cool your desired area. This helpful chart can be found on page 4.
Is one better over the other? Yes, in some ways central air conditioning systems are better than window units – mechanically, functionally and efficiency-wise. However, the term “better” can be defined in a number of ways. In some cases, a window unit will be the best option for your cooling needs.
- In the average sized home, a typical central air unit uses about 3500 watts
- Runs throughout the house – some modern systems may have the capability to divide a house and produce different temperature for each section
- Installation – you will need to hire a professional HVAC company to install for you, regular inspection and maintenance
- Can easily set the temperature you need at different times of the day, consistent air temperature
- Adds to the resale value of your home, an attractive feature to most people
- Can be used anywhere from 500 to 1440 watts of electricity to run
- Can cool one room at a time, leading to a significant reduction in energy use
- Installation – do-it-yourself
- Inconsistent temperature, some rooms may be cool and some rooms may be hot
- Does not add to the resale value of your home
Whether or not you decide to install central air conditioning or a window unit is entirely up to the individual homeowner. Each home and homeowner has different needs. If you need help making a decision or need assistance with your upcoming cooling project, contact Summit Heating and Air Conditioning.
AC Frequently Asked Questions
- What regular maintenance does my unit need?
Maintaining unrestricted air flows is critical. Avoid as much dust, dirt and debris as possible. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor unit, all filters must be kept clean and heat exchangers and coils free of constraints. We highly suggest that your unit be inspected and serviced twice a year.
- Why should my air filters be changed regularly?
To operate at its utmost level with great indoor air quality, your filter should be replaced regularly. The frequency of replacement will vary depending upon the type of filter you have. Your HVAC technician can recommend ideal filters and replacement scheduled for you.
- How frequently should my air conditioner be serviced?
Maintenance should be done at least once a year – preferably in the spring or early summer.
- What size HVAC system do I purchase?
There’s no easy method to determining the best size for each home. The size will be based upon the construction of your home. The only sure way to determine the appropriate size is to have your home’s individual heating and cooling needs evaluated by a professional.
- Why is it important to get the appropriate unit size?
For comfort and energy use, sizing is extremely important. Equipment that is over capacity will not run as regularly or for as long. On the flip side, under-sized equipment is also an issue as it can result in the loss of comfort during temperature extremes.
- Is a system with more capacity better?
A system with more capacity isn’t going to mean it’s the best option for you as a larger system with more capacity delivers less comfort and costs more to operate when inappropriately sized. Not only will the air condition not run efficiently, but it also won’t properly remove humidity from the air.
- How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle?
There is no one answer to this question. Your system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, so it will depend on the environment of the individual home and the state of the equipment.
- Should I keep my air conditioning unit from running a lot?
If your unit is repeatedly cycling on and off, your bill is going to be much higher than you might expect. Each time your system has to start back up, it uses a great amount of electricity without producing much cool air.
- What temperature should I set my thermostat?
The temperature at which you’ll want to set your thermostat at will depend on the time of year and your personal inclinations. In the summer, the average temperature setting is 75-80 degrees. Refrain from making drastic changes to your temperature settings otherwise you will cause your unit to work harder, therefore, using more energy.
Give your bank account a break to chill out. By following the suggested energy saving tips, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to cut your air conditioning energy costs this summer. For professional advice and assistance with your cooling needs, contact Summit Heating and Air Conditioning.