It’s never too early to start thinking about the warm season and the impact it will have on your energy bills – which can be considerable, depending on how inefficient it is to cool your home when it’s hot outside.
It pays to think ahead and plan for recommended maintenance, repairs, and improvements of your AC unit well before your thermostat switches over from “heat” to “cool.”
A lot of the things you can do to keep your home cooler in the summer will also benefit you now while the weather is colder, allowing you to stay more comfortable year-round and conserve energy as well.
To improve indoor comfort while temperatures climb outdoors, reduce your electric bills, and decrease stress on your AC unit, follow these tips.
These areas are easy to overlook but are significant energy loss culprits. Walk around the exterior of your property and inspect the condition of weather-stripping around your exterior door jams, door bottom, and windows, as well as the caulking around windows and doors. Also, address any damaged siding, fascia and soffits, mortar cracks, and other areas of identified air leakage.
This will determine where you’re losing energy. Older homes experience around 70 percent air leakage in ductwork, on average. An HVAC professional can perform a building envelope test that will determine if your ducts need sealing or replacement,” says Frank Wickstead, adjunct professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Building Construction in Atlanta.
This can help prevent these places from becoming superheated and transferring heat down to the living areas. The recommended level for most attics is to insulate to R-38 or approximately 10 to 14 inches, based on insulation type, per the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The best way to do this is with a properly working attic fan. This helps keep air circulating throughout your attic, which prevents it from becoming superheated and transferring the energy downstairs.
Invest in a programmable smart thermostat that lets you automatically adjust the temperature around your household schedule. A smart thermostat can save as much as 10 percent annually on heating and cooling bills.
Prepare to use these when the sun is at its peak to block heat from entering your home. These curtains can also help cooled indoor air from escaping from poorly fitted windows.
Have the equipment cleaned, electrical checked, system charged, and mechanicals evaluated to make sure your air conditioning system is running at its best capabilities.
A clogged filter reduces airflow into the system and decreases the output of cooled air. Restricted airflow also strains your system, increasing the chance of failure. Many experts recommend changing filters every month to 45 days.
According to the National Resource Defense Council, a ceiling fan can make a room feel 10°F cooler yet only uses 10 percent of the energy expelled by an air conditioner. Today, most ceiling fans use the same electricity as a 100-watt light bulb. There are also smart ceiling fans that can be set on a schedule.
Replace incandescent, halogen, and/or fluorescent light fixtures/bulbs with energy-efficient LED upgrades. Those older types of bulbs can be a considerable heat source during hotter months.
Make sure furniture is not blocking any air registers. And provide ample clearance around your exterior air conditioning unit. Keep shrubs, bushes, plants, and other items at least two feet away from your AC unit. Try to keep your outdoor unit in the shade, as it will use up to 10 percent less electricity than if it were exposed to sunlight.