Summer will soon be upon us, and it’s about that time to switch on the A/C and revel in the cool air of your home. Your A/C provides a much-needed respite from the rising temperature outside, but they also cause your energy bill to rise. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that about half of the energy we use in our homes is from heating and cooling. Here are five foolproof things you can do this summer to keep your energy bill in check.
Invest in a New A/C Unit
The most impactful change you can make towards cutting your energy bill down is updating your older A/C unit. Modern air conditioners are built to give you the most bang for your buck. Today’s HVAC technology is largely focused on efficiency, and using less energy directly translates to more savings. If your current unit is 10 years old or older, Energy Star recommends having it checked by a professional or replacing it with a newer model.
Being energy-efficient means that it cools your space as quickly as possible for the least amount of energy output. The most energy-efficient units available come with an Energy Star certification. This means the with proper maintenance and care, your system will run in a way that will save you money over older technologies. Updating your unit isn’t just beneficial for your energy bill; a bonus with newer models is their ability to reduce your carbon footprint.
Program Your Thermostat
According to the DOE, you can save as much as 10% a year on your energy bill simply by adjusting the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day. Turn the temperature up while you’re away or sleeping to avoid paying for cooling air you aren’t there to enjoy. You can use this same strategy in the winter by turning the heat down. From the DOE website, and a good rule of thumb, “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.”
Many of us make the mistake of turning the temp too far in one direction or the other, in an attempt to heat or cool our space more quickly. Not only will this not work as hoped, but it also puts additional stress on your system, sometimes causing it to freeze up. The DOE recommends a nighttime temperature setting of 78 degrees during the warmer months (in a milder climate) to be comfortable while avoiding an unreasonably high bill.
The most reliable way to manage the temperature in your home is to use a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set the temperature depending on the time of day. A programmable thermostat can handle temperature adjustments automatically. After a while, you may not even notice that it’s happening.
Clean Your Vents and Dust Often
Dust always builds up faster than we want it to. Especially in the warmer months, when pollen is rich in the air. Too much dust and debris can clog your vents or form blockages in your air filters. Blocked and clogged filters will inevitably compromise the efficiency of your unit. Your HVAC system will have to work harder to force air into circulation around your home. Around this time of year, it’s important to make sure to dust surfaces in your home regularly. Choosing dust-trapping products, such as a microfiber cloth, to dust with will keep the bulk of larger debris particles from making their way to your air filters. Vacuum your vents, floor or ceiling, whenever you vacuum the floor.
Air filters need to be changed regularly, about every 30-60 days, to ensure your system continues to work properly. A good hack we’ve found is to use a bold marker to write the date on your air filter when installing it. Check this filter twice as often during the summer as you would the rest of the year. Many people may not know this, but your air filters can be lightly cleaned with your vacuum’s hose attachment. This will help prevent your filter from getting gummed up with pollen or shedding pet dander.
The last suggestion to do with dust is to have your ducts cleaned seasonally. Most times the buildup from air pollutants occurs out of sight and beyond the laymen’s ability to tackle it. So besides regular cleaning around your home, consider calling a professional in to clean the ductwork.
Use Fans for Circulation
If you’ve ever been sitting comfortably in your house when your A/C unit kicks on for seemingly no reason, it’s often the result of stagnant air making your system think it’s warmer than it is. In the summer especially, heat rises and the air can become trapped near the ceiling. Cold air will also sink to the floor, and the room won’t feel consistently comfortable. Instead, you’ll notice the difference and stuffiness as you move through your home. To address this, keep your ceiling or table fans on throughout the daytime hours to circulate the air. Simply keeping the air in your home moving will create a more comfortable and even temperature.
When used in conjunction with your A/C, fans will help cool the air more quickly and correctly, and the A/C will not be fooled by an inaccurate sensor. Any time your unit turns on unnecessarily is money out of your pocket. An oscillating, or rotating fan is a great option for those who don’t have ceiling fans. They come in many sizes, models, and speeds, so finding the right fit for your space and budget will be a breeze.
Schedule Preventative Maintenance
Don’t wait until a problem arises to call a technician. Fixing a problem is usually more expensive than taking the steps to ensure problems don’t arise in the first place. Much like our regular wellness checks with our doctors, or oil changes for our vehicles, seasonal maintenance is necessary for the safety and lifespan of your HVAC equipment. In addition, most air conditioner manufacturers require annual maintenance for continued warranty coverage. Consider hiring a trusted professional to service your air conditioner seasonally, at the end of spring or the beginning of summer.
Regular seasonal maintenance and cleaning can increase reliability, longevity, effectiveness, and efficiency. It’s easy to see how having the best running unit possible will cost the least money. Investing in a professional, trustworthy job well done will save you in the future.
Following these five suggestions can not only save you money upfront on your energy bill, but they will also save you money for years to come.
Allied Air Conditioning and Heating is here to help you save big this summer. Visit our website or give us a call to start saving today!