How to Save Money and Energy with Your Air Conditioner

Insulating and sealing your doors and windows is a great way to prevent heat build-up during the day. Your air conditioner is likely your home's biggest energy consumer, and if you use it regularly, you're probably used to receiving huge utility bills. But you don't have to accept these high electricity bills, as there are ways to reduce them even when you have your air conditioning unit running every day. Here are some of the top tips for saving energy on air conditioning that could lead to a reduction in the utility bill before the end of the month.

The heat provided by sunlight can make your air conditioner work harder to cool your home, and an air conditioner unit that works hard means it consumes more energy than it should. So, keep the blinds and curtains closed to prevent the sun from coming in. Many utility companies routinely raise their rates in summer, and this year Americans will likely spend about 2 percent more, on average, on their monthly electric bill, predicts the EIA. The good news? There are ways to reduce the cost of cooling your home without ruining your budget or running out of savings.

In general, about 30 percent of a home's heating or cooling energy is lost through windows. Sunscreens, or window mesh-type mosquito nets, can intercept energy before it enters the house. Mosquito nets are particularly effective on windows facing east and west. Keep your programmable thermostat as high as you're comfortable with (the DOE recommends 78 degrees Fahrenheit), and when you're out and about, set the temperature even higher.

The DOE estimates that you can reduce your energy bill by 10 percent by setting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher for eight hours a day. By running a ceiling fan, you can increase the thermostat setting by about 4 degrees without compromising your comfort level. In summer, turn on ceiling fans counterclockwise and turn them off when you leave a room. It's an initial investment, and not a glamorous one, but keeping up with routine maintenance on your air conditioner can help reduce your energy consumption.

Clean filters alone can reduce the unit's energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent, according to the U. S. UU. A recent survey on “Summer Cooling” conducted by DuraPlas revealed that only 30 percent of homeowners schedule preventive maintenance on their air conditioning units, but doing so can be worth it.

Ensuring that your unit and air ducts are clean is a proactive way to ensure optimal energy efficiency in the home during the hot summer months. Krigger says that individual air conditioning units and ductless air conditioning units, including ductless mini-divisions, are much cheaper to use than central air conditioning units.

Krigger says that a single or ductless system can be 50 to 60 percent cheaper than central air conditioning.

Closing doors and vents can help redirect cold air to areas where you spend time, so you don't have to pay to cool empty parts of your home. Do a visual check inside and outside the house to see if there are gaps, cracks, and openings where air can enter and exit.

To achieve maximum performance, energy efficiency, and stated life expectancy of equipment, air conditioning supplied by a traditional heat pump or ductless heat pump must be inspected and repaired by a certified HVAC technician every two years. Better air circulation should also allow you to set your thermostat four degrees higher without reducing your comfort. You may think that your air conditioner only has to work hard on hot days, but you may also be forced to work harder when it generates heat. You can reduce your energy costs by exchanging an old air conditioner for a new unit with a high energy efficiency rating (EER), found in Energy Star-qualified units.

Despite tightening homes and increasing energy code requirements for new construction, many homes have valuable air conditioning and heating leaks in many ways. Air conditioning accounts for about 12 percent of monthly electric bills and up to 27 percent in hot and humid states such as Florida or Louisiana. Saving energy means saving money, and during the hottest months of the year when air conditioning use accelerates, knowing some ways to conserve energy can help make a big difference when it comes to paying cooling bills. When airflow is interrupted, your air conditioner unit will work hard to keep your home cool, and that will cause it to consume more energy.

Often small problems can be identified and addressed soon before they turn into a major repair or compressor failure. So don't be afraid to increase the temperature of your air conditioner as it will lower your overall bill due to less use of the air conditioner. Ceiling fans help circulate cold air throughout the house which means the air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard to pump cool air into the room.

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