Staying cool and comfortable during the summer months without racking up some high electricity bills can be a challenge. As the temperatures rise, we often crank up our central air in an attempt to find relief from the sweltering heat and humidity.
According to a recent article on Nationwide.com, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) indicated that heating and cooling account for 50 to 70 percent of the energy used in the average American home, and those figures typically rise and coincide with the heat index. Before long, our air conditioning units quickly become the largest energy consumer in our homes.
1. Keep The Air Flowin’
While top-of-the-line air conditioning units and other devices designed to keep us comfortable seem to be all of the rage, sometimes simply installing and running a ceiling fan might be all that you need to keep cool, calm, and collected.
By changing the airflow direction and boosting the circulation of the air as well as opening up your windows at night, you should notice a change in the temperature of your home very quickly. Although they might be cheaper than air conditioning models or wall units, ceiling fans are certainly limited in what they can provide and might not meet your needs.
Pro tip: According to an article on homedepot.com, “A ceiling fan should rotate counterclockwise in the summer so that the blades push cooler air down in a column. This is the best ceiling fan direction for air conditioning since it makes the air feel cooler than it is.” In addition, the article goes on to note that “Ceiling fan direction in winter should be clockwise and the fan should run at the lowest speed. This pulls cool air up toward the ceiling, which in turn displaces the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling.”
2. Don’t Neglect Your Doors and Windows
When most people think of ways to keep cool, fans and air conditioning units immediately come to mind; however, it’s important to not neglect your doors and windows. If you fail to seal your windows, that cool air that you crave will find its way outside of your home. Additionally, installing a storm door is a proven method to keep cold air in and keep the hot air outside
Pro tip: In a recent article on homeadvisor.com, the Department of Energy stated that “Energy loss attributed to windows accounts for nearly 25 percent of the annual heating and cooling costs for the average American home.” While you might have to pay $600 for an average window and as much as $850 for a top-of-the-line window, you will certainly notice a savings in energy each month once your new windows are installed. Likewise, it will cost you about $350 on average to purchase and install a new storm door, but the energy savings will also become very apparent with each passing month.
3. Insulate Your Home
Much like your windows and doors, the insulation of your home should not be overlooked. Poor insulation is often at the root of high energy bills because you continually have to generate cooler or warmer air as it escapes through faulty insulation.
No matter how great your air conditioning unit might be, if you have an insulation issue, your model will have to work harder than normal to keep producing cold air. Furthermore, adding insulation won’t just protect you from the heat, it will also protect your wallet as well.
Pro tip: According to an article on energy.gov, “Unless your home was specially constructed for energy efficiency, you can probably reduce your energy bills by adding more insulation. Many older homes have less insulation than homes built today, but even adding insulation to a newer home can pay for itself within a few years.” While the initial upfront cost might be expensive, the energy savings that you’ll begin to see will confirm that it was a sound investment.
4. Get Your Ducts in a Row
Although checking and improving the insulation in the walls and attic of your home should be at the top of your list, remember to insulate the ductwork as well. According to an article on energydepot.com, “Insulating ducts in unconditioned areas of the home can help reduce space heating and cooling energy costs and improve indoor comfort.” Each obstacle that your air ducts encounter makes it significantly more difficult to effectively circulate air from your unit into each room.
5. Be Smart When it Comes to Your Thermostat
While there are many modifications that you can make to your home to improve airflow and boost the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, many homeowners are realizing the value in smart or programmable thermostats.
Not only are they easy to install and incredibly efficient, but smart thermostats can also be used through an app. So, if you forget to adjust your thermostat before heading out the door, you can simply access the app through your phone and set a desired temperature.
Pro tip: In a recent article on businessinsider.com, Google Nest Thermostat E was rated as the best overall thermostat, while the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control was selected as the best model to work with an Alexa device. Additionally, the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat was selected as the best smart thermostat for consumers on a budget.
6. Remember That Annual Maintenance
Whereas some people opt to spend money on improving the insulation of their home or trying various other solutions to keep cool without maxing out their credit cards, the Department of Energy strongly recommends consulting a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) expert on an annual basis. These trained technicians will not only check your air conditioning unit’s efficiency, they will also provide additional tips and resources to help keep your electric bills lower each year.
Along with exchanging your filter, as well as cleaning the drain channels and coils, HVAC professionals have the tools and knowledge to measure the amount of energy that your air conditioning unit is using. In addition to being able to answer all of your air conditioning questions, HVAC professionals also have the knowledge to determine which type of AC unit will work best for your specific home and meet your precise needs.
Much like a yearly physical for our bodies, it’s important to remember to contact and hire a professional to both clean and check your air conditioning unit once every trip around the sun (at least!). In doing so, you’ll not only keep on top of any maintenance needs, but you’ll also have a much greater opportunity to eliminate any future problems, including ones that might cause issues with your energy consumption. By making the smart decision to hire an HVAC technician for a yearly checkup, your savings in the long run will far outweigh any initial expenditures.
In his article on airistair.com, author and owner of Arista Air Conditioning Corporation Michael Rosone writes, “If you could see what AC technicians see when they come to service a neglected air conditioner, you’d understand why regular maintenance is so important.” From repairing your unit’s electrical connections to simply replacing old, worn parts, HVAC professionals help your system run more efficiently. In the article, Rosone also notes that studies indicate that air conditioning maintenance helps your unit maintain up to 95 percent of its original efficiency.
7. Perhaps It’s Time For An Upgrade
If you’ve finally come to the conclusion that your current air conditioning unit isn’t keeping you cool and causing your blood to boil after you have received your electric bill, it’s time to think about what to do next. While just replacing your current unit with the same model might initially seem appealing, it could ultimately be a decision that you will regret in the future.
Although HVAC professionals can diagnose any existing issues and keep your current AC unit operating to the best of its ability, it’s important to consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model, especially if the unit is more than 15 years old. Not only are newer, more energy-efficient units safer and more reliable, they also can significantly reduce your energy consumption, which will become evident in your future electric bills.
Who To Turn To For Your AC Needs
Along the same lines as treating that bad knee with Tylenol, if you neglect your AC unit, you’re only deferring needed maintenance, which often leads to more headaches down the road. From smart thermostats to improving the insulation in your home, people can find various ways to save money on their bill; however, the real key lies in knowing which HVAC company to turn to and trust.
Since 2017, Hoffner Heating and Air Conditioning has been serving the greater Pittsburgh area with honest, professional, and reliable services for both commercial and residential customers. With more than 35 years of experience as a team, this family-owned and -operated business has experience in everything from HVAC repairs to complete new system builds for both residential and light-commercial facilities.
In addition, the team at Hoffner Heating and Air Conditioning will tailor the solution directly to your heating and cooling needs, which includes designing a custom ductwork schematic based on the specifics of your building or residence.