Tips For Increasing Your Air Conditioner's Efficiency
Summer is just around the corner, and if you are looking to limit the increased electric expenses that come when you turn on the air conditioner, then it's time to learn a bit more about energy efficient air conditioning. Every year, you spend an average of 6 percent of your household's energy use to cool your home. That may not sound like a lot, but since two-thirds of all homes in the United States have air conditioners, that adds up to $11 billion a year. If you can think of better ways to use your money, here are some tips.
The key to an energy efficient air conditioning system is two-fold: First, the unit itself needs to be an efficient option, and second, you need to take measures around your home to help the air conditioner work as proficiently as possible. By taking care of these, you should notice a significant lowering of your energy bills during the summer cooling season.
Use Fans Wisely
Fans can make a room feel cooler so you can increase the temperature on your thermostat without sacrificing comfort, but using fans incorrectly can be detrimental. Ceiling fans, for example, can make a room feel cooler. You can be sitting in a 79-degree room with a ceiling fan on and feel as if the room is only 72 degrees. However, this effect is only because of the movement of the air on your skin. The temperature does not actually change, so turn the fan off when you leave the room.
Whole-house fans can create the same result, but throughout the entire house. These fans draw air from the house into the attic. Open a few windows and create a nice breeze in your home on those days when it's really not hot enough inside to warrant the air conditioner, yet you are feeling hot and uncomfortable.
Ventilation in your home can improve comfort and your air conditioner's efficiency. Attic ventilation, for instance, reduces attic temperature and thus improves the effectiveness of the air conditioner, because the air conditioner does not have to work harder to overcome the heat gained in the attic. Similarly, vents with fans in the kitchen and bathroom pull moisture out of the home, and that moisture can make the home feel hot and stuffy. Using these, or adding them if you don't have them, can help you set your thermostat at a higher level while still enjoying a comfortable home. Be certain when using kitchen or bathroom vented fans that the fan does, in fact, vent to the attic or outdoors. Simply pulling the air back into the home will not remove the humidity that makes your home feel warmer.
No matter how efficient your air conditioning system may be, if you are losing conditioned air through the attic and walls, your air conditioner will cost more to run than it should. Adding insulation to these areas, when needed, will improve the efficiency of your home's air conditioner. Insulate around your ducts as well if they are exposed to hot areas of your home.
Keep Your Air Conditioner Well Maintained
You can also improve air conditioner quality through routine service and maintenance. Having an HVAC professional look at the unit at least once a year is a wise choice. The HVAC team will be able to inspect the system for problems, like a clogged air filter or leaky ducts that could be making your system less effective. Tending to these seemingly small issues can make a big difference in the quality of your system. Also, these annual inspections will find small repair issues that can be addressed before they turn into something costly.
Consider Upgrading to a High-Efficiency Air Conditioner
According to the Department of Energy, homeowners can save between 20 and 50 percent on their home energy use by switching from an older air conditioner to a high-efficiency option. Since over 31 million people have air conditioners that are 10 years or older, and an astounding 8 million are using air conditioners that are 20 or more years old, this may be a problem for you.
Air conditioner efficiency is measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which is the efficiency at which the air conditioner produces cooling. Before 1992, SEER ratings of 10 were the highest. Today, a SEER rating of up to 23 is possible. This is a significant difference. Any system with a SEER rating of 14 or higher can carry the Energy Star rating and is considered energy efficient air conditioning. Even changing from a 13 to a high efficiency SEER 14 system can reduce your energy use by as much as 7 percent.
An outstanding air conditioning option for the modern homeowner is the Evolution System from Bryant. This quiet, economical air conditioner will help you save money as you seek to keep your home cool and comfortable. The air conditioner will pay for itself quickly with lower energy bills and a long life expectancy.
If your air conditioner is older and in need of an upgrade, consider getting an estimate from a qualified HVAC professional, like the team at Mendel Plumbing & Heating. Contact us today for a free estimate on replacing your old unit with an energy efficient air conditioning system.