In the United States, currently two thirds of all households have air conditioning. During the sometimes extreme heat of the summer months, the luxury of cool, crisp air is well needed and appreciated. But did you know that air conditioners cost homeowners over $10 billion per year? On top of this, Energy Star reported that 20% of all utility bills can be attributed to air conditioning costs.
While many Americans think that these exorbitant costs are simply the price of staying cool, there are ways to ensure that your air conditioner is operating at its peak efficiency level and that your home is keeping cool in an energy conscious and budget-wise manner.
Here are three mistakes homeowners commonly make with air conditioners:
No. 1: Constantly Running Your AC
During the heat of the summer months, it may seem like a good idea to blast your air conditioning nonstop. The truth is, keeping your air conditioner on at all times is a huge waste of energy and money. If you plan on leaving your house for the day or a similarly long period of time, turn up the thermostat before leaving and turn it back down when you return. At night, it is also recommended that you turn off your air conditioning while you sleep. Bodies are able to handle higher temperatures when asleep so staying cool is easier; a sufficient standing or ceiling fan should keep do the trick to keep you staying cool.
Even though you shouldn’t keep your AC on at all times, be sure not to keep it off for too long! Inactive air conditioners can grow mold inside of them and become inefficient. Keeping your AC on for at least a few minutes a day will improve the efficiency of your cooling system and the air quality in your home.
No. 2: Not Practicing Weatherization
Weatherization is a largely important tool in ensuring that your home is energy efficient and that your air quality is optimal. Weatherization entails sealing the leaks and cracks where outdoor air and pollutants can come in, and indoor air can seep out. This includes making sure windows, doors, and air ducts are properly sealed. In fact, properly sealing leaking air ducts can improve the efficiency of your air conditioning services by 20% or more.
The most common areas for weatherization issues are typically in the basement and attic. Fixing air leaks in these areas can dramatically increase your AC’s energy efficiency.
No. 3: Neglecting to Maintain Your AC
Air conditioners operate the most efficiently when they undergo regular maintenance. Have your HVAC system inspected twice a year after major seasons of use. Along with frequent inspections, make sure that your AC unit’s filter is cleaned out regularly. A dirty air filter can negatively affect both the air quality and efficiency of the AC; it will at times have to work twice as hard to keep a room cool.
If your air conditioning system is old, you may want to consider investing in a high efficiency air conditioner. While it may seem like a lofty investment, it is an investment that will pay for itself over time; these systems can reduce energy use in your home from anywhere between 20% to 50%.