Air Conditioning Energy Conservation Tips

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If you have air conditioning -- either central air or window air conditioners -- up to 20% of your electric bill may be going towards cooling your home or business. Reducing the amount of heat in your home or business and managing your air conditioning use will lower those costs.

No Cost

  • Close drapes, blinds and shades to keep sun's rays out of the home during the warmer periods of the day.
  • Don't use appliances that cause heat when it is hot outside. Use the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer in the evening when the demand is lower.
  • Reduce the amount of cooking you do inside on hot days. Cook outside on the grill when possible.
  • Control humidity. Dry air is easier to cool than humid air. Use the bathroom exhaust fan to remove excess humidity when showering.
  • On cooler days, use a fan to remove heat from your home. Ceiling fans used in conjunction with your air conditioner will allow you to raise your thermostat setting by as much as 4 degrees without reducing your comfort. If your ceiling fan is reversible, set the rotation of the fan to pull the warm air up to the ceiling.
  • Set the thermostat on your air conditioner as high as comfortably possible. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower the overall cooling bill will be. Between 1 and 2% of cooling costs can be saved for every degree Fahrenheit the thermostat is raised.
  • Save as much as 10% a year on your cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. Use the automatic setback or programmable thermostat on your air conditioner.
  • Do not place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Clean filters help keep the air conditioning unit in good working condition. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner.

Low To Medium Cost

  • Consider installing a whole house fan. Use it when the air is cool outside, such as in the early morning. Whole house fans typically use about one-third of the electricity of a central air conditioner.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan with light kit, which is about 40% more efficient than a standard ceiling fan/light combination. Because ceiling fans cause air movement that can make a room feel cooler by four degrees or more, you may be able to save on the cost of running an air conditioner.
  • Consider planting trees and shrubs in strategic locations to help reduce the temperature and airflow in your house. Deciduous trees planted on the west and south sides of your home help to keep the house shaded during hotter weather.
  • It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger room air-conditioning unit won't necessarily make you feel more comfortable. A room air conditioner that's too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. Room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature.
  • If your room air conditioner unit is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR room air conditioner, which uses at least 10% less energy than a standard new model. Select the unit with the highest Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for greater savings. Ask a trained salesperson for help choosing the size that's right for your needs.
  • When buying a room or central air conditioner, enlist the services of a qualified technician to ensure your unit is properly sized and installed for your home/building. A unit that is too large will not only cost you more up front, but will actually work less efficiently, costing you more to operate over its lifetime.
  • Consider a room air conditioner unit that features controls, such as a digital readout for the thermostat setting and a built-in timer to help you adjust the unit to use less energy. Look for a room air conditioner with a filter that slides out easily for monthly cleaning.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat away from natural cool and hot spots. An ENERGY STAR thermostat can save as much as $115 per year.
  • Remember to use a surge protector on your air conditioner and all other appliances and electronic equipment.
  • Hot air seeps in all around the house. Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors to keep hot air out and cooling costs down.