Making a few simple changes now can reduce your cooling costs this summer and allow you to enjoy everything those warm months have to offer. Most of these changes cost very little, and some of them require nothing more than your time.
Change Your Air Conditioner Filter
This is perhaps the easiest, yet most often overlooked, way to make your air conditioner run more efficiently and economically. Dirty or clogged air filters make the air conditioning system work harder than it has to, and that can cost you money.
Just grab a new air filter the next time you are at the hardware store. Changing that filter now is the best way to ensure your air conditioner will run as efficiently as possible when the summer heat arrives. Keeping the filter clean will also improve the air flow of the unit and keep dust and dirt from harming the internal components. That can help extend the life of the unit along with its energy efficiency.
Use Your Ceiling Fans for Cooling
Having an efficiently running air conditioner is great, but that does not mean you have to use it every day. Use your ceiling fans on days that are warm but not oppressively hot. Ceiling fans cost a lot less to run than even the smallest window air conditioners. Every day you turn off the AC and use your ceiling fans instead is one more day you will save money.
When it is hot enough for the air conditioner, turning the temperature up a few degrees can save you money as well. You may not be able to tell the difference between a 68 degree room and a 70 degree one, but your power bill can.
Check for Leaking Ducts
If you have a central air system, a single leaking duct could cost you a lot of money. Anything that lets cold air out of the system makes the unit work that much harder and use a lot more power to cool your home.
Take a few minutes to examine the ductwork in your central air system and check for leaks. If you do find a leak, you can seal it yourself or hire a contractor to do it. The best time to check for leaks in the system is in the spring – well before you turn the unit on for the first time.
Keep the System Clean
Whether you have a central air unit or rely on window air conditioners, it is important to keep your cooling equipment clean. Dust and dirt can build up quickly and make the system work harder than it has to. Keeping the units clean is one of the best ways to improve their efficiency and lower your cooling costs.
If you use window air conditioners, clean the exterior of the units at least twice a month. Vacuum out any dust and debris, along with any insects or leaf litter that may have become trapped in the coils.
If you have central air, try to keep outside plants from encroaching on the unit. These appliances need plenty of free air flow to operate at peak efficiency. It is also a good idea to clean the ducts and vacuum around the unit with a shop vac.
Get an Annual Inspection
While there is plenty you can do on your own, it is also a good idea to have the entire cooling system evaluated by a professional. Scheduling an annual inspection is the best way to spot problems and resolve them before they become major expenses.
An experienced HVAC technician will be able to evaluate the entire system and ensure that it will run at peak efficiency when the hot summer months arrive. Be sure to schedule your inspection during the spring. HVAC technicians are often very busy once the hot summer months arrive.