Air Conditioning Tips
The tips below can help you conserve energy and save money on your energy bills.
Your Air Conditioner
- A new, high efficiency, 13 SEER air conditioner uses about half the energy of a 15-year-old air conditioner. If your air conditioner is 10 years old or less, maintain it well and keep it. If it is between 10 to 15 years old, minor repairs and service are still acceptable. If the air conditioner is 10 to 15 years old or older and needs substantial repairs, your best alternative is to replace it with a new, high efficiency system.
- Turn air conditioners to the highest comfortable setting. We recommend 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you're home and 80 degrees while you are away. Adjusting your thermostat up a few degrees will have a significant impact on your cooling bill. A change from 73 degrees to 76 degrees -- 24 hours a day -- could save you approximately 30 percent on your summer cooling costs.
- Clean or replace your air conditioning filter monthly, or as needed.
- Keep coils on the exterior air conditioning unit free of dirt, grass clippings and leaves.
- The “on” fan setting on your central air conditioner can circulate air continuously through your home. This will usually even out the hot spots in your home, and if this practice allows you to set your thermostat at a higher summer temperature, it can also save you money.
- Humidity is a significant load on an air conditioner. While it’s tempting to give your air conditioner a rest on cool nights, watch the weather forecast before you decide to open the windows at night. If tomorrow is going to be hot again, keep the air conditioning on and the home closed through the night to keep the humidity out of the house.
- Have your air conditioning system checked annually by a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor to make sure its working at peak efficiency.
Around the House
- Use ceiling or oscillating fans to circulate the air.
- During peak cooling hours, solar heat gain can account for one-third of the load on your air conditioner. Close the drapes on the sunny side of your home while you are there, or close all window coverings if you are leaving for the day.
- Turn off unnecessary lights and use energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs that use less energy and give off less heat.
- Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping, and minimize door traffic to keep the cool air inside.
In the Attic
- Cool air ducts in a 120 degree Fahrenheit attic in the summertime need to be fully buried under 6 inches of insulation. Otherwise, heat absorbed by exposed attic ducts can add 20 to 40 percent to your bills.
- Attic floor insulation should be at least R-38 or about 12 inches thick. Do not compress insulation on the attic floor by adding a layer of wood, storing boxes on it or walking across it frequently.
- Your attic should be properly vented to keep it as cool as possible. Check your soffit vents in the roof overhang to make sure they are not clogged with dirt.
- Use heat-producing appliances such as your dryer, dishwasher, and range during the cooler nighttime hours.
- Consider using a microwave instead of the oven. Microwave ovens use up to 70 percent less energy than a conventional oven.
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of cooled air.
- To prevent moisture and heat buildup in your laundry room, clean the dryer lint filter before each use, have the dryer properly vented to the outside and regularly check to make sure the vent pipe is clear.
- A dehumidifier running in a damp location that is also open to the outdoors will run continuously, raise your bill and never dry out the damp area. When using a dehumidifier in a damp basement or crawlspace, keep all windows and vents closed in that area.