What are some ways I can make my AC more energy efficient?
AC systems require a lot of electricity to run, which can quickly lead to an increase in monthly bills. If you are looking for ways to save money on your utility bills, here is a quick list of energy-efficient AC tips.
Change your filter every 3 months
Change the filter of your AC unit once every three months, or at least once a month during peak seasons. Dirty filters make an AC work harder and increases energy consumption by up to 30%. Cleaning the filter is also essential to prevent possible issues such as dirty filters leading to an increase in allergens, or the buildup of mold. Dirty AC filters can also cause damage to the coil and rotary compressor inside your air conditioner.
A clean filter can also help improve air quality in your home, especially if you have allergies or asthma.
When to change your filter depends on the type of filter you have. But as a general rule: it should be changed every three months (or once a month when in peak seasons). This means that with the start of each season, you should check that your filter is not heavily soiled.
Check the seal around your unit to make sure it’s not leaking air and wasting energy
You can get up to 40% savings on your monthly energy bill by sealing any holes or gaps around the outside unit. Many people don’t realize that their AC unit’s efficiency can be greatly reduced by air leaks. Check all seals, including the door gasket, if you have a window AC and all supply/return grills if you have a wall AC.
In order to check if the seal is loose or broken, run your hand around the seal checking for any gaps, and move it from side to side. If there are gaps in the seal you can fix them by cleaning up some caulking (or similar material) and fill in all holes/gaps with little circles of caulking.
If you live in an older home, most likely the seal is broken. In such cases, it’s best to call a contractor to seal up all leaks and gaps on your AC unit.
Take advantage of natural light by installing windows that face south or west.
If your home is built without windows in these directions, then you can still take advantage of them by installing a skylight to let natural light flow through your home.
But if your home does have windows in these directions, take advantage of them as much as you can. Not only will they save on heating and cooling costs during the winter and summer months, but natural light also adds a sense of spaciousness to our living spaces—especially when contrasted with artificial lighting.
The more light we have in our homes, the more we feel connected to our surroundings and less like we are simply inhabiting a space.
A skylight is one of the most effective ways to let natural light into your home, but there are many other ways you can do it as well. Experience sunlight by opening windows, using mirrors, or strategically placing plants inside your home. In fact, some of the best ways to add natural light are also the simplest.
Try planting more plants inside your home or using mirrors to reflect and direct sunlight into dark corners. You can even use mirrors or other reflective materials to strategically bring sunlight into your basement so you aren’t constantly relying on artificial light.
Also, make sure that each room in your home has a light switch on its own breaker, so you can turn off lights when they aren’t needed. If your kitchen is the only room in your house with overhead lighting, make sure that all of the bulbs are CFL or LED and the equivalent of 100 watts. You’ll save electricity and still have plenty of light to cook by!
Turn off the AC when you’re away from home for more than 12 hours at a time
When you know you’ll be leaving your home for a long period of time, turn off the AC and open windows so that your house can air out. The longer it sits without use, the less energy it uses over time. You can even program your thermostat to switch back on automatically if it becomes too warm outside or once you are near your home again.
Another way to save energy is by insulating the floor under your air conditioning unit with thick foam boards, especially if it’s in an unfinished area of your basement or crawlspace. This can help prevent heat loss and keep you from having to constantly cool down a larger space than necessary.
When you’re away from home, turn off the AC and open windows to allow your home to air out. Program your thermostat to automatically switch back on if it becomes too warm outside or once you are near your home again.
If you live in a colder climate, insulate your crawl space or basement floors under your air conditioner. The thicker and better insulated insulation, the more energy-efficient it is.
Use a ceiling fan to help circulate the cool air from your AC around your home. They can be great for helping keep your rooms feeling comfortable without needing to run your AC as often. However, if you live in a hotter region of the country, a ceiling fan can actually cause you to use more energy—so make sure you only run them when necessary or consider investing in an oscillating fan instead that is better for warmer climates.
A ceiling fan can help circulate the cool air from your AC around your home, which helps keep the room feeling comfortable without needing to run your AC as often. However, a ceiling fan can actually cause you to use more energy in hotter regions of the country. When it’s really hot outside, consider using an oscillating fan instead that is better for warmer climates.
Install insulation around any pipes that might be exposed to outside temperatures so they don’t freeze up and cause problems with the system.
If you have a room with air that doesn’t get used, consider shutting the vents in that room to make the AC unit work less hard. One way to use your AC more efficiently is to keep it clean. If there is dirt or grime on the coils of your system, they can’t do their job properly which means either working harder or possibly being inefficient.
The more insulation you can add to your windows, the more you’ll be able to keep out the hot air and keep in cooler air. Your AC unit will run less if it’s not getting as much heat from outside and won’t have to work so hard.
Always use a programmable thermostat when using the AC. This will allow you to program the unit so that it’ll start up a little before you get home or arrive at work which can help to cool you off when you need it most. If your AC is starting frequently during the day, try increasing the size of your water lines. You can do this by going into the system and adding a larger pipe. This will allow the water to keep circulating and cooling your home efficiently without having to run as many cycles.
One little-known fact is that your AC can be more efficient by changing its direction of rotation during the summer months. If you’re using the system in a northern direction, have it work clockwise. If you’re using it in the southern direction, have it work counter-clockwise.
A word of warning: any time you make changes to the system, be sure that you are working with a professional who understands your needs and can help you remain safe. You may even want to consider having someone you know and trust help if you’re uncomfortable with the work.
If you want to make your AC more energy efficient, there are a few simple steps that can be taken. You’ll need to keep it clean and insulated, insulate pipes in cold climates, install insulation around any exposed pipes for protection from the elements, use ceiling fans wisely when possible, or invest in an oscillating fan instead for warmer climates (ceiling fans should only be used during specific times of the year if they’re causing you to use too much energy), and change rotation direction depending on where you live. If these tips seem overwhelming to take care of yourself—or even just one at a time—consider hiring someone who knows how best to do this work safely.