The summer heat is upon us, and before you know it, the AC will be running, which means the return of higher summer electric bills. Below are some tips that can help you prepare your AC unit for summer, along with tips to reduce your electric bill.
The best way to maintain your AC unit is to have it inspected and serviced by a professional before you turn it on for the season. They can check the coolant levels and other areas that can affect the efficiently of the unit. However there are steps you can take to help maintain the efficiency of your unit. The easiest thing to do is to change your filters regularly. Dirty filters can cut airflow, and in some cases block it entirely. This can cause many issues including having your inside coil ice over. A dirty filter makes your unit work harder and will contribute to higher energy usage. This is especially true of micro allergen reduction filters that are designed to capture finer particulates, which clog faster and easier than standard filters.
Cleaning the outside AC unit can also help. Wash and keep the outside condenser clean. Make sure there are no plants or shrubs blocking the AC unit. Blocking the flow of air will reduce the efficiency of the unit. There should be a few feet in all directions to allow the free flow of air. If your unit is in a shaded area, that can increase efficiency by 10%. Also check for bent fins, which can block airflow and not allow the unit to cool effectively. In most cases you can fix the bent fins using a fin comb that can be purchased at some retailers.
In addition to maintenance, you can take these steps to make your unit more efficient.
Insulating your ducts and taping and sealing all joints can save you so much that the US department of Energy states that the cost of insulation your ducts with foil faced R08 insulation will pay for itself in 3 years with the savings in energy.
Upgrade to a smart thermostat. Newer thermostats have enhanced controls that can learn from your temperature settings and more accurately change your temperature to suit your needs, saving energy usage. They also allow you to remotely control the temperature from your smart phone, which can save you up to 10%. Make sure fan is set to Auto as it will consume less energy than the constant on setting. It also will provide better De-humidification as it allows moisture to drip from the cooling coils to the condensation pan and not into the air. Dryer air means cooler air.
Use ceiling fans to help cool house. Ceiling fans help circulate the air which will give the impression of the room being cooler and allow you to raise your AC temp setting up 2-3 degrees and still feel the same level of comfort. This can save as much as 5% per degree higher you leave your AC.
Use blinds or heavy drapes to shade south and west facing windows, which are the hottest during the day. Turn off the lights whenever possible or convert to energy efficient LED lighting.
Cooking outdoors, running the dryer and dishwasher at night, or letting your dishes air dry and hanging up your clothes to dry can all cut down on the temperature inside the home.
Following these tips will help prolong the life of your AC unit as well as provide savings on your energy bills.
**Please note before performing any cleaning or maintenance to your AC unit, make sure to turn off the power at the breaker to protect your unit.