Your air conditioning system could account for approximately 12% of your total annual home energy expenditures and up to 70% during the hotter summer months. The HVAC is the biggest energy user in your entire house.
If you are like most homeowners, you are probably searching for a way to improve air conditioner efficiency and reduce your costs. Unfortunately, this may be easier said than done.
Don’t despair. There are some tips that can help you. Keep reading to learn how you can help your AC unit run more efficiently and cost you less through the course of a year.
Before diving into the specifics of how to improve AC system efficiency, it’s a good idea to learn some of the signs that your system isn’t efficient.
Signs Your System May Not Be Operating Efficiently
You may wonder how to tell when efficiency has dropped. Some signs your system is experiencing this problem include:
One of the most obvious signs of AC inefficiencies is if your utility costs are going up. When an AC isn’t operating efficiently, it requires more energy.
If you notice a significant jump in your usage and costs, then it’s a good idea to have the system inspected and cleaned. The professional will be able to determine the underlying cause of the increased costs.
Your thermostat is the “brain” behind your AC system. If you notice it starting to cycle on and off too often, it may be an indication the thermostat needs to be replaced. Everyday use and dust can wear on the internal mechanism of the thermostat.
Another reason your system may be cycling frequently is the compressor. It’s best to have a professional determine the precise issue.
Ice on the Compressor
If ice starts to build on your AC unit, it’s a definite sign that you need professional repairs. Ice can begin to build-up due to a leak in the coolant line.
Another cause of this problem is if damage to your coils has occurred. A dirty filter may also cause this problem. If there is ice, you can feel confident that your unit isn’t operating as efficiently as it should.
Each appliance in your home is going to have its own set of unique sounds. Chances are you have gotten used to some of the sounds that occur due to the regular operation of your unit.
If you notice something unusual, then it’s a good idea to shut everything down, to prevent the issue from getting worse and book a service call.
Now that you know the signs of inefficiency, it’s time to get into what you can do about it.
Effective Ways to Increase Air Conditioner Efficiency
Improving your unit’s efficiency can help you save money and extend its life. Keep reading to see what you can do.
1. Unblock and Vacuum Your Vents
One of the best ways to boost the efficiency of your air conditioner is to keep the vents free from debris. Take some time to walk around your house and take stock of the vents.
These are either going to be on the ceiling or the floor. Consider the following during your evaluation:
- What size air filter is needed if any for the vents?
- Do the vents look dirty with pet hair, dust, and other debris?
- Can you remember the last time you vacuumed the vents?
- You may also opt for a full professional duct cleaning.
Take some time to remove any debris from your indoor air supply vents. This is absolutely essential if you want to maintain steady airflow through your system. Even if you dust and vacuum on a regular basis, your vents may still be blocked by blinds, rugs, toys, or furniture.
Make sure each of the vents is clear. This is crucial, even if you have to rearrange the furniture in a room.
2. Close All the Doors and Windows
The conditioned air in your home may escape to the outside easily if you leave your home’s doors or windows open. This can lead to serious inefficiencies.
If you want to air out the space, then make sure that you turn your air conditioning unit off, first. Remember, it’s not your job to cool the entire neighborhood.
3. Clean Around the Condenser Unit Outside
Your outdoor unit is going to be at its most effective if it is clean and completely free and clear from any debris. However, cleaning the condenser can be tricky, so be sure you know what to do and how to do it before you get started.
Leave the more in-depth cleanings to the pros. They can ensure the proper methods are used to prevent any type of serious damage.
4. Keep All Heat-Producing Appliances Away from Your Thermostat
The location of your thermostat plays a huge role in the overall efficiency of your air conditioning unit. If your thermostat is installed in a particularly hot part of your home, like next to a sunny window, lamp, or appliance, it may not gauge your home’s temperature properly.
A certified HVAC technician knows this, which is why they will avoid putting a thermostat in an area exposed to a large amount of heat. However, if you have an older system and it is in a bad spot, it’s probably worth it to fix the issue.
This is because if a thermostat is in this type of location, it will “think” it has to cool the space more than what is actually needed. Over time, this is going to cost you more in regard to cooling costs for your home and result in more wear and tear on your AC system.
5. Fix Any Leaks in Your Attic, Around Your Windows, or Under Your Doors
Air leaks are another huge cause of lost efficiency in your home. It these leaks are present, then the cool air that has been distributed in your home is going to move outside.
This often results in the AC system operating longer than necessary. This is another issue that eventually leads to high utility costs.
6. Increase the Temperature on Your Thermostat
Just push up the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees. In most cases, making an adjustment in the temperature of five to eight degrees (up in the summer and down in the winter) can help you save both energy and money.
If you invest in a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature automatically from your smart device. What’s even better, you can make these adjustments regardless of where you are.
7. Cover Your Windows
Pull your curtains or close the blinds to block out the heat of the day. This is extremely beneficial when you are trying to enhance your system’s efficiency.
By covering your windows, you can reduce the total amount of heat coming into the home. This helps to prevent your system from having to work too hard.
It’s a good idea to close your blinds and curtains when you leave for work first thing in the morning. This can help ensure your home stays cool during the day.
When you get home, you can open them, and enjoy the late-afternoon sun. By doing this, you don’t have to sacrifice your indoor comfort.
8. Shade Your Outside Condenser
There’s no question that the summer sun can get brutal. This heat can have a huge impact on your outside condenser unit, making it have to work harder just to cool your home.
To help reduce the strain and wear and tear on your outdoor unit, put a bit of shade over it. The key here is to just provide shade – not obstruct the airflow in any way.
9. Clear the Drain Line
You will find a drain next to the system’s indoor cooling coil. In most cases, this is going to be located over your furnace in the basement (if you have a basement).
By pouring one cup of chlorine bleach down the AC drain and rinsing it with water, you can ensure your drain remains clear throughout the summer months.
When you keep the drain line clear, it will ensure no issues related to water occur. If the drain line becomes blocked, it can cause serious efficiency issues with your AC unit.
On the outside of your home, ensure that the drain lines are not buried under mulch or dirt. You can even vacuum them out with a shop vac!
10. Insulate Any Exposed Ductwork
Did you know there may be exposed ductwork in your attic, or even in the crawlspace under your home? If there is, it may be leaking, which isn’t a good thing since these parts of your house are unconditioned.
While you may be able to determine if there is an issue with your ducts, you may not be able to handle the problem on your own. At this point, calling the professionals to determine the problem and provide the best repairs will be necessary.
In addition to fixing the leakage that has occurred, the professionals will also insulate the ducts using a quality, professional-grade material.
11. Change Your AC Filter
When your AC system achieves maximum airflow, it means it is going to operate at maximum efficiency rates. However, a dirty filter can impact this significantly.
Dirty filters are not only going to reduce the quality of the air inside your home, but it may also reduce the airflow, making the job of your air conditioner even more difficult.
This is an easy and affordable way to prevent efficiency problems. However, if you don’t address this it can lead to you having to invest in expensive repairs.
12. Avoid Using Your Oven or Dryer
On extremely hot days, try to avoid using your hair dryer and your oven. When you use these appliances, they are going to result in warm air being circulated through the home. As a result, the AC will have to work harder to compensate for this surge of warmth.
Avoid this by not using the oven or dryer on very hot days. Your AC system will thank you.
13. Don’t Use the Registers to Control the Temperature
You may be tempted to open or close the registers in certain rooms. However, this isn’t a good idea.
When you do this, it is going to affect the cooling load your AC system has to cool. Over time, it can result in serious damage to your system and result in discomfort inside the home.
14. Consider Installing a Zoning System
If you are looking for a way to control the temperature in each room of your house, there is an option – zoning controls.
With these, you can divide your home into groups of rooms or individual rooms to achieve customized cooling levels. By controlling temperature like this, you can actually improve the efficiency of your system.
15. Schedule Regular, Preventative Maintenance
One of the best things you can do for your AC system’s efficiency is to schedule regular preventative maintenance with a professional technician. They will make sure that everything is working properly and that there are no serious efficiency problems.
Improve Your AC Efficiency with the Tips Here
If you are ready to improve your air conditioner efficiency, then be sure to implement the tips and advice found here. Doing so will help you save money while extending the life of your unit.
If you found the information and tips here helpful, then be sure to check out some of our other informative blogs. For example, we have one that tells you everything you need to know about keeping your pipes from freezing this winter.
Our goal is to help you with any plumbing, heating, cooling, or electrical need you may have.