7 Tips to Improve Your Air Conditioner Efficiency
These are hard times and people are looking for ways to reduce home repairs and cut back on expenses. Since you’re stuck at home, learn how to improve your air conditioner efficiency to save money, reduce breakdowns, and extend the lifespan of your HVAC system.
You’ll also improve the quality of your indoor air, which is more important now than ever.
1. Use a high-quality air filter and replace it often.
The air filter in your air conditioning system is there to keep dirt, dust and other debris from getting into the moving parts of your AC. Over time, that air filter can get clogged and start to cause big problems. Making sure that you regularly change your air conditioning system’s air filter is a great way to avoid major AC repairs.
Ensure that you have a high-quality filter (MERV 10-14) that fits your HVAC system. That’s step one. Step two is replacing it regularly. Life can get busy, but by setting monthly calendar reminders to inspect the cleanliness of your filter, you’ll enjoy cleaner air and lower energy bills.
The more you dust and vacuum the inside of your home, the less dirt and dust will enter your HVAC system. Learn spring cleaning tips for improving indoor air quality and reducing the amount of airborne contaminants that enter your duct system. You may also want to seal up air leaks around your home to prevent dirty outdoor air from entering.
2. Keep your vents and registers clean and clear.
First, locate every supply and return vent in your home. Look behind furniture, drapes, and under rugs. Make sure that there is nothing blocking any of the vents or registers. You may need to rearrange your furniture.
Once all the grilles have been located, remove them with a screwdriver. Wash them with soap and water in the sink. Vacuum and wipe the area around the grilles before reinstalling the grilles. If you notice excessive dust and debris in your air ducts, contact a professional.
Although there may be a lever that allows you to close off the vent, always keep them open. Closing off your vents creates unwanted pressure inside the ducts, leading to duct leaks and other HVAC problems.
It’s a myth that you can block air vents and registers to help create HVAC zones in your home. If you truly want HVAC zones in the home, you will want to invest in a ductless mini-split system. Ask your Heating Specialties for air sealing and insulating options.
3. Offset AC costs with fans
Using a fan in the room you’re in allows you to adjust your thermostat by roughly 2-5 degrees with no change in comfort, cutting cooling costs by up to 10%. The circulating air keeps all of the cooler air from pooling on the floor in the summer, equalizing the temperature of the room. Likewise, in the winter you can set the thermostat to a lower temperature and circulate the warm air around the room, decreasing heating costs. Ultimately, your goal is to create indoor comfort. If that means blasting the AC and running fans at max, then do so, but you should be able to get away with a slightly warmer room so long as a fan is still running.
4. Seal air leaks around the home
Sealing up air leaks in your house will reduce your air conditioning costs as well as heating costs. Caulk or seal penetrations where utilities come into your home (such as plumbing pipes, electric lines, dryer vents, etc.). Fill gaps around chimneys. Install weather stripping around drafty windows and doors.
5. Lower the thermostat
According to the U.S. Energy Department, you can save 5%-15% a year on your cooling bill by turning up the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees higher for 8 hours — that’s a 1% savings for each degree you turn the thermostat up (for an 8-hour period).
Follow this guide from the U.S. DOE for maximum energy savings:
Source: ENERGY STAR
Use your thermostat to save a lot of energy and money by remembering to turn it up while you are away or asleep (greater than 78 degrees). We recommend installing a programmable thermostat so that you don’t have to remember to adjust the temperature every time, and also to avoid any discomfort by returning to the desired temperature before you wake up or return home.
How to Operate Your Thermostat Successfully
Here are some thermostat savings tips straight from the U.S. Dept. of Energy:
● Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
● Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings.
Also see the ENERGY STAR® June 5, 2008, podcast for video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.
● Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
6. Add shade to your home and outdoor AC unit
Design your home and landscaping to get shade in the summer and sun in the winter. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 35%.”
Plant trees or build a trellis to provide shade for your outdoor air conditioning unit. Too much sun on the unit causes your air conditioner to work harder. Maintenance costs to replace worn out parts can be expensive so you should take care of your unit to ensure smooth, efficient, long-lasting operation of the unit. Make sure there is a minimum 2-foot clearance around the entire unit. You don’t want to block airflow.
How to clean your outdoor AC condenser
If you live in an area with a lot of trees or in an area with high wind and a lot of dust, you could benefit from having your unit cleaned on a regular basis. Leaves from the trees can get into your unit and can slow the operation of the unit down. Excessive dust and dirt in the air can buildup inside the unit over time and can also slow the operation down. When you schedule your annual air conditioning maintenance, make sure the technician cleans the outdoor unit. In between professional tune-ups, you can clean the outdoor unit with you hand and a hose.
All you need to do is turn off the unit at its source and remove by hand any large pieces of debris. Next, you can use a vacuum to suck up any smaller debris. Compressed air can also help release dir and dust from the condenser fins.
Finally, you can use your garden hose to rinse off smaller particles. Be careful not to bend any fins. If your fins are bent, you can use a fin comb to straighten them out. If they are completely crushed in some areas, contact a professional. Learn more in-depth condenser cleaning instructions from The Family Handyman.
7. Cover your windows
Check your windows for drapes, shades, blackout curtains, or window films that can block a lot of heat that comes in through your windows. Learn more about interior and exterior window treatments to improve comfort and energy efficiency.
Don’t Neglect Annual Maintenance
HVAC manufacturers and technicians agree that air conditioners should be professionally tuned up once a year, ideally in the spring. This prepares the AC for the heavy work ahead during the summer, helps prevent emergency breakdowns, and maintains the system’s energy efficiency.
Having a trained HVAC company perform regular maintenance twice a year is the best way to ensure a clean, healthy, and efficient HVAC system. A maintenance technician will keep the air conditioner in its best shape and catch potential repair troubles and fix them before they can escalate into a breakdown.
To help your HVAC system stand a better chance of making it through this busy season, schedule professional air conditioning maintenance today.
Always schedule HVAC service from a certified technician
If you’re spending the money on HVAC maintenance, repair, or replacement, ensure it’s done right the first time by taking care to choose the HVAC contractor for the job.
Do your research before hiring an HVAC service provider. Make sure they are licensed, insured, and highly experienced. Also, check the Better Business Bureau, online reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations. Learn more information on selecting a reputable HVAC contractor.
Our Maintenance Checklist Includes:
- Clean A/C evaporator
- Remove condensation to prevent fungus growth
- Check for air leaks
- Clean condenser and flush coil
- Check level orientation of A/C unit
- Examine coolant lines for damage
- Replace filter
- Test thermostat
- Clean air conditioning drain ports
- Examine fan, motor, and compressor for optimum efficiency
We know this is a stressful time for everyone. If you have any questions about your plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems, don’t hesitate to contact Brubaker Inc.
For more information on how we are protecting our employees and customers, read our statement on COVID-19.