Using light blocking drapes, ceiling fans and turning your air up are ways we have discussed on how to keep your energy bill lower in the summer time. But what about the BIG unit itself? What can you
do to the actual HVAC to help keep those bills lower? Is it even possible? Of course it is!!
Air conditioners are not “set it and forget it” appliances. They must be maintained to maximize efficiency and to ensure that when you turn them on, they’ll work! Many home HVAC providers offer service plans. Sign up and then you won’t forget and regret. Even if you don’t employ a pro, be sure to clean your AC’s air filter monthly during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce air flow by 1 percent per week.
That same HVAC contractor also will be able to help seal the deal by evaluating your home for cooling efficiency. One homeowner I know decreased cooling expenses by having her home’s air ducts sealed. This is an area where it is not uncommon for builders to cut corners and in their haste will be your waste. Also consider insulating ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces, and attics.
You can make your air conditioners job easier (and life expectancy longer) by providing shade for your room units or the outside half of your central air conditioning unit. Shade will increase the unit’s efficiency by five to 10 percent. Additionally, keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees F (or higher if using ceiling fans), don’t air-condition unused rooms, and turn off air conditioning when you leave for more than an hour.
If you have an older central air conditioner, consider replacing the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. Make sure that it is properly matched to the indoor unit. And don’t buy more than you need. Several studies have found that most central air conditioning systems are oversized by 50 percent or more.
No matter what you buy, make sure it is high-efficiency. For room air conditioners, the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating should be above 10. For central air conditioners, look for a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating above 12.
Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker
Twitter – @AskForLara