6 Ways to Save on Air Conditioning Energy Costs
The expense to run your air conditioner during the summer months can be costly, but there are ways to keep those energy costs lower with these helpful tips.
1. Programmable Thermostat - These thermostats allow the user to program the temperature of the space at which your air conditioner should turn on, as well as, what time of the day your air conditioning system will be active. Programmable thermostats keep your air conditioning system running only at specified times and prevent the air conditioning system running longer than necessary. The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat in the summer as high as comfortably possible; preferably around 78ºF during the warmest parts of the day. The closer the indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the lower the energy costs for your air conditioner. Also, energy companies here in Southern California, like Southern California Edison and Los Angeles DWP, offer rebates for smart programmable thermostats. Smart thermostats allow the user to control the temperature inside their home from anywhere by conveniently using their smartphone. Programmable thermostats can save up to 10% of monthly energy costs. Mis-wiring a thermostat is a common issue for DIY-ers. We recommend hiring a professional to install a new thermostat.
2. Air Conditioning Maintenance - Many homeowners neglect this simple energy-saving tip. Air conditioning maintenance ensures that your A/C system is running smoothly and efficiently. Dirty air filters and dirty condenser or evaporator coils can restrict airflow and cause the air conditioner to work harder and longer. These dirty parts can be cleaned or replaced with professional air conditioning maintenance. Filters should be replaced every two months depending upon use and whether there furry animals or dusty conditions in the home. Either a DIY homeowner or a professional can replace an AC filter. Professional AC maintenance includes lubrication of all of moving parts in the system, as well as cleaning of the system. The more friction in the moving parts due to lubrication degradation, the higher the amount of electricity is needed to move these parts. Professional air conditioning maintenance also ensures that the user's thermostat is functional and accurate. Your air conditioning system could run longer than necessary if the thermostat isn't functioning optimally. Low refrigerant levels can also contribute to higher energy bills. Professional AC maintenance will inspect and correct these levels if needed. These are just a few of the tasks completed in regular air conditioning maintenance that professionals like those at Zion Custom Air perform. Energy savings range from no less than 15% up to 40%, depending upon your air conditioning system and how regularly it is maintained.
3. Ventilation Systems - Ventilation systems complement your A/C system and can generate up to a whopping 90% in energy savings! Ventilation systems include attic fans, whole-house fans, and residential economizers. All of these systems work by venting warm air out of your home, while some bring cooler outdoor air into your home. Did you know that your attic stores massive amounts of heat? The wood itself can be heated up to over 160º while outdoor temperatures are just 95º. As that heat permeates through your ceiling and walls, the AC system has to work much harder to keep indoor temperatures low. Attic fans remove the massive amounts of heat stored in the attic by venting it outside of the home. Whole-house fans and residential economizers both work similarly by removing the hot air from the attic, but differ from an attic fan because these systems cool your home as well. In the evening, as the outdoor temperature drops lower than the indoor temperature, these systems draw in the cooler outdoor air while they vent the warmer indoor air out through the attic. The following day, the AC system will not need to run for very long to maintain your desired temperature. Ideally, in the spring and fall months in Southern California, the whole-house fan or residential economizer could spare the use of your home AC system altogether. Experienced ventilation professionals, like those at Zion Custom Air, can help inform and educate as to which type of ventilation system would be most beneficial for your home.
4. Air Duct Inspection, Sealing, and Insulation - If energy costs are increasingly getting higher, air duct inspection by a professional is recommended. No one wants to pay to cool their attic space with expensive conditioned air. Leaky air ducts can raise energy costs by up to 30%. So ensuring that the ductwork in your home is sealed can lead to significant saving if a problem is found. HVAC professionals can inspect your ductwork for faulty sealing and insulation and repair these issues if found. Air duct inspection is definitely worth the cost if you fall victim to leaky ducts.
5. Air Conditioner Replacement - Every year, air conditioning systems grow more and more energy-efficient. So, the older your air conditioner is, the more likely that replacing that equipment could lead to higher energy savings. The energy efficiency of air conditioners is measured by SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The higher the number, the more efficient the system performs. Every increase in SEER number results in approximately 7% savings on your energy bill. So, a 14 SEER system has 7% lower energy bills than that of a 13 SEER system. Added up year after year for the life of the system could mean $1000s of savings for your home energy costs. Today, a homeowner can purchase an air conditioning system as high as a 26 SEER rating. Keep in mind, however, that the higher the SEER rating, the more expensive the system will be for purchase. With proper installation and maintenance, these high-efficiency systems can last much longer than their predicted life expectancy and make the investment even more worthwhile. If you would like more information about what your energy savings would be or about the cost of air conditioning system replacement, call a professional. Zion Custom Air has financing options to help alleviate the expense of a new system.
6. Windows: Sealing, Tinting, Covering, or Replacement - According to the US Department of Energy, solar heat gain through your windows account for 25-30% of energy costs of your home air conditioning system. Indoor window coverings, like blinds, curtains, or shutters, can block up to 40% of the heat gain which can result in about 20% savings on your energy bill. Outdoor window coverings are even more effective in blocking solar heat gain than its indoor counterparts. Window films, also known as tinting, reject solar heat gain. Also, sealing drafty windows will result in energy savings. Contacting a professional window contractor is recommended to inspect the windows of your home to determine if leaks are present, and to discuss options for sealing, covering, window film installation, or window replacement. (Zion Custom Air is not a window contractor).