Everyone loves summer for its long days and fun activities, but it’s usually no more than a week before people start complaining about the heat. Summers can be sweltering in some areas of the country. Temperatures can reach far above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest days, and homeowners have to take certain measures in order to protect themselves and their families from the harsh heat. The most common modern solution is, of course, air conditioning.
The problem with air conditioners is that they use a lot of energy. Some large homes experience power bills of up to $400 per month during the hottest months due to the tremendous amount of energy it takes to keep a huge house nearly 30 degrees cooler than the surrounding environment. There aren’t many better options for true cool air without AC, but there are ways to reduce the added cost by tweaking your system and your home itself.
Balancing Cost & Efficiency
The ultimate goal is to reduce the usage of the air conditioner as much as possible while keeping your home comfortable. The first thing you can do is compromise a new base temperature that is slightly higher than you might prefer while remaining comfortable. For instance, if you usually set the thermostat to 70 degrees, try setting it to 75 degrees. You’ll notice the small change in your home, but you’ll notice the big change in your electric bill a bit more.
If your system is complex enough that it includes smart-home features or programmable functionality, you can usually use an energy-saving mode that will only allow the system to run when it is completely necessary.
It’s also a good idea to avoid shifting the thermostat to colder temperatures without doing so at a gradual pace. Changing it quickly only forces the system to spend more energy.
Ventilating the home can help as well. Be sure the system isn’t running when you do so, or else you’ll be wasting energy. However, it can be beneficial to rid your home of stall air. It also allows natural breezes to cool your home.
If you’re in the market for a new home, be sure to ask your realtor if the houses they are showing you have adequate systems that won’t run up the power bill. Realtors are usually privy to that information from their clients.
Fans can be employed to supplement air conditioning since they cost less to run. Strategically placing a few floor fans can drastically improve the circulation within your home, which helps move cool air to areas it may not usually reach.
Optimizing Efficiency with Regular Maintenance
The best way to guarantee you don’t overspend on AC costs is to keep your system running in perfect form. This can be accomplished with some relatively simple maintenance, which is outlined below.
- Insulation – A lot of heat enters the home through the windows and the walls, especially if they aren’t properly insulated. Thick blinds can be employed to block sunlight, and any drafty areas or cracks in the window or door seals should be patched with caulk. You can also tint your windows if you’d prefer to avoid blackout shades.
- Filters – Many people forget to change their AC filter every month, but it should be done at least that often. It not only reduces strain on the unit, which cuts energy expenditure, but it also purifies your air more efficiently. Air filters are typically quite cheap, so there is no reason to avoid changing them.
- Coils – The coils are the active part of the AC unit. It is where the heat is exchanged with the environment, so it is vital that the coils stay free of debris like leaves or dirt. Keep them clean by brushing them or wiping them with a damp cloth.
- Contractor – HVAC systems need regular scheduled maintenance from a professional, whether or not you do your part to keep them maintained month-to-month. Annual system evaluations are recommended, and your realtor will be able to connect you with a contractor in the area if you are considering having a system evaluation done on a home you are interested in buying.