The summer heat is here — time to turn on the air conditioning. Keeping your cool in summertime is easiest when your home or office air-conditioning system is in tip-top shape. Doing so will cut your summer energy bills and help to reduce the threat of global warming by using energy more efficiently. That means both you and the planet stay cooler!
Air conditioning and heating account for nearly half of all energy used in U.S. homes. A lot of that energy is wasted by inefficient or improperly maintained systems. For example, dust and dirt cause your cooling equipment to work harder. That means higher energy bills. Sealing duct leaks in your home and doing other routine maintenance can stop energy waste and save you 10% or more on your summer cooling bill. Here are some more hot tips for a cooler summer:
BUYING AN AIR CONDITIONER
Don’t overbuy. Whether you plan to cool a single room or an entire house, buying the right size system will ensure that you keep your energy use and costs to a minimum. What’s the right size? It depends on many factors, including the size of the space, how much direct sunlight it gets, and the amount of insulation in ceiling and walls.
Look for the energy label. All new air conditioners carry a label showing their efficiency and how much they typically cost to run. This will help you find the most efficient model. In particular, look for models that bear the ENERGY STAR™ label, which means they are the most efficient available.
USING YOUR SYSTEM
Buying the right system is only the beginning. Here are some tips to help you use your system wisely:
An air conditioner will cool the air in your home fairly quickly. To save money, turn it on only when your home is occupied. Heat pumps operate most efficiently when left at a constant temperature.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat. These allow you to set the time when the air conditioner will turn on, such as 30 minutes before you arrive home from work on a hot day.
During the day, keep the drapes or blinds closed on windows that face east, south, and west. This will help reduce solar heat gain into your home.
MAINTAINING YOUR SYSTEM
Whatever type of AC system you buy, however often you use it, be sure to keep it clean and working efficiently. Doing so will help keep the system running well — and help keep you cool for years. Here’s how:
Change or clean the furnace filter once a month.
Clean the outside compressor by spraying it with a hose.
Keep plantings at least one foot away for adequate airflow around the entire unit.
Vacuum registers and air vents regularly.
Have your ductwork professionally cleaned every few years.
Keep furniture and drapes away from registers.
During the winter, keep the compressor covered and remove window air conditioners.