One of the most common complaints we hear from homeowners is about how much it costs to actually use their air conditioners each summer. And we get it! Our air conditioners go through a lot of work each year and consume a lot of energy–in fact, HVAC systems account for about half of all the energy use in any given home, so naturally your utility bills will increase when summer rolls around.
So if you want to save money, is your only option to just stop using your air conditioner so much? Not at all! Actually the real answer here is to learn how to better use your cooling system. Curious? Read on to learn how you might be using your AC system inefficiently.
By Skipping Routine Maintenance
Maintenance is not a luxury service–it’s a vital service for the functionality and the efficiency of your air conditioner. During system maintenance, we thoroughly inspect your air conditioner, cleaning it and making adjustments to components as needed.
We also look for anything that indicates a repair need. Running an air conditioner that needs a minor repair can slowly but surely turn into an air conditioner with multiple problems, and that will absolutely have a negative effect on efficiency.
While we do normally recommend you schedule tune-ups before you need the system the most, in the spring, it’s actually more important how consistently you have it done. For a standard air conditioner, we recommend once a year. For a versatile heat pump, every six months.
By Setting the Thermostat Too Low
Did you know that most people are comfortable with the temperature set around 78°F? You’re probably one of them, but may not even realize it! When you walk into your home from an 80°F day and your AC hasn’t been running, you probably set it as low as it will go to get your home to cool down faster, right?
Let’s say you set it to 71°F—guess what? It’s not going to lower the temperature any faster than it would have had you set it to 78°F. The compressor is just going to run longer and more frequently as it tries to reach this lower temperature, and this is where inefficiency problems and subsequently high energy bills come to play.
Not Keeping the System Clean
How often do you take a look at the outdoor unit of your AC system? We’re talking about the condenser cabinet. This is where your AC system exhausts the heat it removes from your home, but it can’t adequately do its job if the cabinet grill is obstructed, whether it’s by trees and brush or even lawn mulch and leaves.
Check the inside, too! Are the vents unobstructed as well? If you have furniture, kids toys, backpacks, etc. sitting in front of low vents or return registers, then you’re hurting the airflow and causing your AC system to work inefficiently. Make sure both the outdoor and indoor structures of your cooling system are cleared!