According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA),only 68% of homes had air conditioning back in 1993. Nowadays, close to 100 million homes have air conditioning systems. This equates to a staggering 87% of households in the United States.
Over the years, the energy efficiency standards for air conditioners have improved significantly. However, it does not mean you can forego AC unit maintenance. If you want your AC unit to work efficiently for a long time, you need to ensure it is checked by AC experts regularly.
Statistics also indicate that Americans spend far more cooling their homes than heating them. This is especially true during the blazing summer months. The good news is you don't have to endure miserable temperatures just to save on your monthly energy bills during summer.
If you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for your energy bills, keep the following energy-saving tips in mind:
Smart Energy Habits
Lowering your energy bills starts with smart energy habits. For instance, if you leave your doors and windows open on hot summer days, you can't expect your energy bills to drop. Below are some practical solutions for lowering your overall energy bills:
Turn your thermostat up a degree or two
Turning your thermostat up a degree or two is one of the most straightforward ways you can reduce heating costs. A temperature setting of 78 degrees is recommended as it is within most people's comfort range. What's even better? It would make your home cozy and comfortable without using too much energy.
Keep your curtains closed
Too much sunlight can cause your home to become warm. It can also increase your AC usage as a result. Invest in excellent and stout curtains that keep too much sunlight from entering your home. Also, when too much sunlight enters your home, your AC unit will work harder and consume more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.
Cooking can increase the temperature inside your house. Rather than doing your cooking inside the house all the time, consider cooking outside now and then. Summer is a great time for outdoor cooking. Consider investing in a grill and doing some of your cooking outside to reduce your AC unit's workload.
Don't cool an empty house
If you are going on a vacation or an extended trip, it is ideal that you don't leave your AC unit in the same setting when you are at home. Either you shut it down entirely, or you turn it up a few degrees. If you want your house to be cool when you return, you can change the setting remotely using an automated system.
Dry your clothes at nighttime
This might not be common knowledge, but running the clothes dryer during the day can make your home hotter. This is especially true if you have limited space at home. Ideally, you should run your dryer at night when temperatures are lower. This can also help ensure your air conditioner won't have to work extra to maintain the right temperature.
Heating and Cooling Maintenance
Maintaining your heating and cooling system is crucial if you want to reduce your energy bills during summer. When you have a properly maintained unit, you can lower your energy consumption and improve your operational efficiency. To ensure your unit remains in good working order, keep these maintenance basics in mind:
Have your ducts inspected
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an estimated 30 percent of the air that flows through the heating and cooling system is lost due to leaks. Have your ductwork inspected by an HVAC professional so you can rest assured you will not lose any money due to undetected leaks.
Aside from leaks, you also need to ensure your ducts are free from dirt and dust that can reduce its heating and cooling efficiency. It is also important to remember that dirty ducts can significantly affect your home's indoor air quality. Invest in the services of an HVAC technician who can clean and look after your system accordingly.
Change your air filters
Changing your air filters regularly is one of the most effective and easiest ways to ensure your unit continues to operate efficiently. Ideally, the air filter should be changed at least every two months.
When your air filters absorb too much dirt, it can obstruct airflow and allow more dirt inside the system. Ultimately, you can end up with a defective unit before you know it.
Changing the air filters regularly has also been known to minimize energy consumption by as much as 5 to 15%. When the AC is constantly running during summer, it would be ideal to change it every month for maximum savings.
Invest in an energy-efficient system
One of the best ways to reduce monthly bills is to invest in a newer and more efficient system. This is especially true if your AC unit is ten years or older. New systems are so efficient that they can heat a home that's at least 30% much bigger at the same cost.
If you want to invest in a new AC system, there are two key factors you need to keep in mind: SEER rating and correct sizing. It is recommended that your new system is SEER 13 or higher.
It is also crucial that you choose your installers meticulously. The Department of Energy stated that improper installation could cause energy loss of up to 27%.
Install or use a programmable thermostat
If you want to minimize energy use, using and installing a programmable thermostat is recommended. When you have a programmable thermostat, you can set your AC unit automatically so the temperature increases while you are away, and you won't have to adjust it each time.
Most thermostats nowadays allow for up to 6 preset schedules. For the highest efficiency, keep the temperature at 78° F when you are at home. When you are away, it should be set to 85° F. Another trick would be to set the AC fan speed lower on humid days, so moisture is removed efficiently.
Over to You
It is reassuring to know that you don't have to sacrifice your comfort during the hot summer months just to save money. The tips above can help assure you can enjoy a cool and comfortable summer without spending a fortune.