Instead of sweating every monthly bill, try implementing some energy-saving tips and tricks.
North America has seen some of its hottest summers on record in recent years. Rising temperatures coupled with higher energy prices have created a situation where families that would otherwise be enjoying the summer sun are working overtime to pay for air conditioning. Instead of sweating every monthly bill, try implementing some energy-saving tips and tricks.
1. Tune-Up Your Air Conditioner
Air conditioners are working harder than ever to help families combat the recent temperature rises, so now's the time to give yours some much-needed attention. Experts recommend scheduling an AC tune-up at least once a year, not just to reduce the chances of unexpected breakdowns but also to ensure that the unit is operating at maximum efficiency.
If the HVAC technician finds anything out of sorts during an inspection, scheduling this essential maintenance service early in the season gives homeowners time to request AC repair services or replace old units that just aren't cutting it anymore. In many cases, all it takes to maximize an air conditioner's energy efficiency is changing the filters, cleaning the evaporator coils, clearing the drain lines, tightening loose screws and belts, and lubricating moving parts.
While a professional HVAC technician can do a lot to improve the efficiency of a home's air conditioning system, from basic maintenance to installing new, Energy Star listed units, there are also some day-to-day things that you should keep in mind. During the hottest months of summer, homeowners should stay on top of basic maintenance tasks like:
- Keeping vents clear
- Vacuuming around the registers
- Changing air filters
- Removing brush and debris from around the outside unit
- Moving heat-producing appliances away from the thermostat
- Shading the outdoor condenser
These few simple steps can help to keep any air conditioner running at peak efficiency. They also come with the added bonus of extending the unit's expected lifespan.
2. Seal the Home
Keeping your home's building envelope well-sealed is a great way to reduce unnecessary heat transfer. Preventing air leaks can save homeowners up to 30% on both their cooling and heating costs, so it's worth the effort.
Sealing homes against air leaks is relatively easy and inexpensive. Start by checking all of the common problem areas such as the seals around windows, doors, and vents to the outside, and don't forget to check the attic and the basement. The attic should be well-insulated and have sufficient ventilation, and the basement walls should be free from cracks or holes.
Identifying the leaks is just the first step. After that, it's time for a trip to the hardware store. As a general rule, you should use caulk to seal around window and door frames, weather-stripping to prevent air leaks around the doors and windows themselves, and spray foam to replace missing insulation in the attic. Installing heat-blocking curtains for use on the hottest days of summer is also a good way to keep home cooling bills low.
Cracks in the foundation or siding and even very small holes in the roof can also cause unnecessary heat transfer, but these issues should be addressed by a professional. While it's perfectly fine for handy homeowners to seal around windows and doors, replacing damaged siding or roofing materials is a much larger job.
3. Use Fans Strategically
Running a fan requires far less electricity than keeping an AC going. Even with today's soaring energy prices, running a ceiling fan costs just $0.006-$0.01 per hour. While a few ceiling or box fans won't replace the need for an effective AC unit, these cheaper appliances can help you make the most of the cool air.
The airflow created by fans moves the air around, helping to ensure that the treated air provides maximum comfort. On average, people who run fans while their air conditioners are in operation can set their thermostats four degrees higher without reducing the comfort levels within the home. Given that every degree of cooling increases energy usage by six to eight percent, a four-degree difference can be quite sizable.
Be sure to turn the fans off when leaving the home, even if the AC unit needs to stay on to combat exceptionally high temperatures. While air conditioners lower the actual temperature of the air inside a home, fans just create a wind chill effect that makes people feel cooler and more comfortable. If there's no one home to appreciate it, there's no reason to leave the fans on.
4. Invest In Smart Home Tech
Smart home technology has come a long way in recent years. It's now possible for homeowners to control just about everything remotely from easy-to-use smartphone apps. Installing smart lights with LED bulbs and a WiFi-enabled thermostat can go a long way toward reducing energy usage.
With a traditional air conditioner, homeowners can only set the temperatures so low without leaving everyone sweltering in the heat while the AC system kicks back on. Smart thermostats make temperature transitions much easier. The most advanced smart thermostats can even learn users' preferences and establish schedules to automatically adjust the temperature when residents are asleep or away from home.
Coupling smart thermostats with other smart home technology can make an even larger difference. Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can cut up to 90% off of your lighting costs. Upgrading to smart lighting can improve energy efficiency and increase savings even more by ensuring that the lights don't get left on when no one's home or everyone is asleep.
Start Making Changes Today
Summer is right around the corner, so now's the time to be making energy-saving changes around the house. If you haven't scheduled that annual AC tune-up yet, you can reach out to Valley Heating & Cooling for help. We'll send out a friendly and professional HVAC technician to perform an inspection, complete preventative maintenance tasks, and schedule repairs or an AC replacement as needed. If you're interested in upgrading to a smart thermostat at the same time, just let us know. We've got you covered.