It’s now summer season and your air conditioning is an important amenity to your comfort. According to the Department of Energy, 75% of of all homes in the United States have air conditioners. This means about 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States is used to cool your home at an annual cost of about $29 billion to homeowners.
So how can you reduce energy use while still keeping their house comfortable? The best way is to avoid these common home cooling mistakes homeowners make all summer long.
Obstructing your air conditioning unit
Even if your central air conditioning unit is ruining your landscaping, hiding it behind shrubbery or other plants is not a great idea. Using foliage to hide it can also hinder your air conditioner’s ability to cool your home. Dirt, dust and other small pieces of debris can clog up your HVAC system and reduce air quality. Your AC unit will work harder and need service more often.
Installing your thermostat in the wrong place
If you wonder why one room is always colder than others, there could be many reasons. One main cause of this is having your thermostat installed too close to a sun-soaked window or at the top of the stairs where heat rises. This causes the thermostat to read the room temperature warmer than it is. When this happens, you will be running your air conditioner long after you have reached the desired temperature. Your thermostat should be installed in the room that best represents the desired temperature for your whole house.
If you live in an older home, you may want to improve the insulation. The best way to determine if you need to improve insulation is to get a home energy audit which will let you know what your energy use is and how to improve it. If your home is leaking air, having more insulation installed will help with your energy costs for both heating and air conditioning.
Keeping windows exposed to the sun
We all love seeing sun come in through the windows, especially here in New England. But one of the most common home cooling mistakes is allowing sun to come into your room when you are running your air conditioner. The sun is raising the temperature, making your AC unit run more often. To lower your energy costs, close your blinds or draperies on sun-facing windows.
Adjusting for humidity
Humidity makes the air feel warmer. When humidity is high, we feel it is much hotter at 75 degrees than if the humidity is low. That’s because humidity inhibits the evaporation of sweat.
The same holds true when your home has higher humidity. The air will feel warmer at 75 than if the air is dryer, causing many to lower the temperature to feel cooler. Adding a dehumidifier to your HVAC system will help your keep your home more comfortable even at higher temperatures.
Not understanding temperature fluctuations
One of the home cooling mistakes that is tricky for many homeowners is knowing how to adjust the temperature throughout the day. Adjusting the thermostat properly depending on inside and outside temperatures can help save energy. One myth is that it is more efficient to run the AC at a constant temperature all day rather than shutting it off when you don’t need it.
If the temperature outside is high, you should make small adjustments to your home’s temperature to maintain the desired level. However, on the other hand, letting your home warm up too much during the day, forces your AC to work harder when you do turn it back on.
The key is to set the temperature so that you make small adjustments when needed. If the temperatures outside are cooler and dryer, you can turn off your AC. But the higher the temperature, you are best to leave it on and make those smaller adjustments when needed.
And never turn the AC down low thinking it will make the room cool faster. It doesn’t work that way.
Not using ceiling fans
Ceiling fans can help reduce the amount of time you run your air conditioning unit by circulating the air throughout your home. Ceiling fans cool the people in the room so they should be used only when you are there. Shut them off when you leave. And, make sure your ceiling fans are turning in the right direction.
Neglecting regular maintenance
An air conditioner needs a regular inspection to ensure all is working well, thus making the operation more efficient. A regular tune-up by a professional will allow them to give your unit a thorough cleaning while making part replacements and minor adjustments as needed.
While they are doing maintenance, they also will change your filters. Filters pull dust and debris out of the air that is being recycled through your system. If the filter becomes clogged with dust, it obstructs air flow. This means your air conditioning unit can’t get new air to cool. If you are exposed to a lot of dust around your home, you may wish to change your filters more often. Have the professional show you how.
Regular maintenance will this increase energy efficiency and extend the life of your air conditioner, which is far less expensive than a complete air conditioner replacement. If you would like to schedule maintenance on your HVAC system, contact us to schedule an appointment.