If a new cooling system doesn’t work for your budget or climate, there are some easy, inexpensive ways to reduce energy consumption and lower your utility bills while still using an air conditioner. Indeed, when used responsibly, an air conditioner can be part of an economical and eco-friendly approach to cooling a home. Consider these strategies in operating your air conditioning unit as the temperatures begin to rise.
Filters: Change your filters regularly. An easy way to remember when you changed them last is to write the date on the filter before you put it in. Caution: If your HVAC contractor hasn’t told you that your system is designed to work with the newer fabric-looking pleated filters available at most hardware stores, do not use them. Since the weave is tighter, the system has to work harder to pull the air through and many systems, including most older systems, can’t handle the added strain.
Turn off units: If you have multiple units, turn off the units in rooms that aren’t used regularly. Or, simply install a programmable thermostat, which adjusts indoor temperatures automatically.
Adapt A/C settings accordingly: Don’t leave the air conditioner set at the same level every day. As the outdoor temperature fluctuates, your need to cool the inside air should fluctuate as well.
Caulking: Make sure to maintain the caulk around the exterior of your home. This keeps cool air in and summer heat out.
Weatherstripping: Ensure that weatherstripping has been properly installed and remains in good condition.
Fans: Use fans whenever possible. Ceiling fans, portable fans…whatever you have, use it! But remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off if you’re going to be out of the room for awhile.
Interior design elements: Summer window treatments are usually installed to look great, but they also have cost-savings potential as well. Particularly in areas that get sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day, make use of your shutters, blinds, curtains and drapes to limit the amount of solar heat that enters the home.