October 13, 2022
8 Ways to Reduce Your Air Conditioners Electricity Costs
The St. Louis area is famous for having hot, extremely humid summer weather, and this puts a lot of strain on your air conditioning. Keeping your home cool throughout the long summer months means paying high energy costs as your AC needs to run almost constantly. This leaves most people searching for ways to lower their costs while still remaining comfortable. With that in mind, here are a few different ways that you can reduce your annual cooling costs without having to sacrifice your comfort.
1. Schedule a Yearly AC Tune-up
Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure your air conditioning system is functioning at its peak efficiency, and this is why you should always schedule an AC tune-up each spring. During the tune-up, an HVAC technician will fully inspect every component of the system for any possible issues. Even seemingly small problems can have a major impact on how well your air conditioner cools and how much energy it uses. If any issues are detected, the technician can repair them to improve efficiency and prevent further damage.
They will also make sure that the system is properly calibrated, the AC unit has the correct refrigerant charge, and the thermostat is working correctly. The technician will also lubricate all moving parts, check all of the wiring, and tighten any loose connections. Lastly, they will fully clean the AC condenser unit, air handler, and blower fan.
2. Change Your Air Filter Regularly
One of the easiest ways to ensure your AC isn’t wasting energy is to change your air filter regularly. You should always replace the filter at least once every three months. However, during the middle of the summer when your AC runs all the time, you may want to replace it every month or two instead.
A dirty air filter drastically restricts how much air can flow through it, so the blower fan needs to work much harder to properly circulate air throughout the ductwork. The system’s cooling capacity is then decreased, which means longer run times and higher energy costs.
3. Make Sure Your Ducts Are Clean and Fully Sealed
If your ductwork is overly dirty, it can also have a major impact on airflow and cause the same issues as a dirty air filter. The same is also true if your supply or return registers are clogged or obstructed by furniture. To prevent these problems, it is recommended that you have your ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years.
You also need to make sure that all of your ductwork is in good shape and not damaged or leaking. Any air leaks can cause much of the heated or cooled air to escape and contribute to longer run times and increased energy waste. The good news is that your ductwork will also be inspected during your annual AC tune-up. If any issues are present, the technician can reseal or replace any ductwork as needed.
4. Keep All of Your Vents Open at All Times
Many people close some of their home’s vents during the summer in an effort to direct the cool air where it is needed most. However, this is never recommended as it will actually make it harder for the system to circulate air throughout the house. When any vents are closed, negative pressure builds up in the ductwork. This causes resistance and makes the blower fan work harder to pump air through the ducts.
5. Use Ceiling Fans to Improve Air Circulation
Ceiling fans can also be a major help during the summer. If you set your fans to run counterclockwise, they will push air downwards and create a breeze to help keep you cool. This allows you to set your thermostat a couple of degrees warmer without negatively impacting your comfort level. As a result, your AC will run less often, and you’ll save on energy costs.
6. Ensure Your Home Is Well Insulated and Free of Air Leaks
How much insulation your home has in the attic, walls, and basement or crawlspace is one of the biggest factors in how much energy your AC will use. If your home is poorly insulated, it allows all of the heat and humidity from outside to get in. This quickly raises the temperature and forces your AC to work much harder. If you find that your AC runs almost constantly, the solution may be to add additional insulation wherever it is needed.
You should also make sure that your doors or windows are fully sealed and not leaking air. Even small air leaks can increase your energy usage by far more than you would think. According to the EPA, nearly 30% of the total energy used in the average home results is wasted through air leaks.
7. Install a Smart Thermostat
Having a smart thermostat installed is another simple way to reduce your cooling costs. Smart thermostats function similarly to any other programmable thermostat by letting you set when the system turns on and off. This enables you to greatly reduce energy costs compared to simply leaving your AC on at all times.
The main difference is that smart thermostats can also learn about your schedule and behavior and automatically program the AC schedule on their own. They also enable you to turn the system on and off remotely or adjust the temperature from an app on your phone. This can be a great help if you forget to turn the AC off before leaving home. You can also use the app to turn the system on so that it will start cooling when you’re on your way home.
8. Upgrade to a Zoned HVAC System
Many people have issues where some parts of their home always stay hotter or cooler. This problem is common in larger homes or buildings with multiple levels. It can also occur because of heat gain from large windows or skylights. In any of these situations, upgrading to a zone-control system can eliminate issues with uneven cooling, improve your overall comfort, and reduce your energy costs. Depending on the layout of your home, a zoned HVAC system can potentially cut your AC energy usage in half.
This type of system splits your home up into smaller areas or zones using automatic dampers installed inside your ductwork. Every zone has a thermostat that independently controls the temperature for only that area. This means you will no longer need to cool the entire home every time your AC runs. For instance, if you never use your bedroom during the day, you can set it so that your AC only starts cooling that zone in the evening just before you go to bed.
You can also set certain zones to a higher or lower temperature to overcome hot or cold spots. Once the thermostat registers that the zone is at the desired temperature, it signals a central control board to close the dampers. This blocks the air from flowing into that zone until more cooling is needed. Best of all, it does this without causing the same air pressure issues that would occur if you simply closed your vents in that area. This can be a huge help in preventing the upper levels of your home from being too hot and your basement from staying too cold.
If you’re worried about how much energy your AC is using, Scott-Lee Heating Company is here to help. Our technicians specialize in AC maintenance and can ensure that your system isn’t using more energy than it should. We can also help you upgrade your AC to a new, more energy-efficient unit. If you’re interested in a smart thermostat or zone-control system, we can help with that as well. We also work on all types of residential and commercial heating systems for customers throughout the St. Louis area. To learn more about the ways you can reduce your AC costs, give us a call today.