Summer is coming. The heat and rising and soon, so will your power bills.
While air-conditioning is a fantastic way to beat the heat, frequent and heavy use can also cause a spike in your power bills at home, especially during the hottest months of the year. The hotter it is, the harder it is for your air-conditioning unit to do its job, the more you’ll have to pay for electricity.
The good news is that there are different ways to mitigate the cost of keeping it cool and comfy at home.
Place Your In-Wall Air-Conditioner On a High Place in the Room
First of all, in-wall installation is much more efficient than just putting your a/c through the window. Window installation means sealing the sides with foam or whatever insulation material you can find, which can still lead to massive air leaks. But if you install it on the wall, you can caulk the sides shut and not allow any cold air to escape.
Second of all, in-wall installation allows you to put your a/c on a high place in the room. This is important because we all know from elementary school that hot air rises and cool air goes down. This means that an air-conditioner in the middle or the bottom of the room, after some time, will only be trying to cool air that’s already cold. Eventually, the entire room will get cold, but not as quickly or as efficiently as if the a/c was positioned higher.
Additionally, a higher position also means that no kids will be able to fiddle with your settings, allowing you to have better control of the temperature and save more on your home’s electricity bill.
Remember: Your Goal is Comfort, Not Wintry Cold
Try not to get greedy with the cold; just aim for a reasonably comfortable temperature. There’s no need for it to be cool enough to warrant wearing jackets and scarves.
While it can be tempting to turn your living room or bedroom into a cool, wintry refuge from the outside heat, it’s also highly impractical in terms of efficiency. If your goal is to save power while still getting the benefit of dehumidified cold air, it’s much more wiser to stick to the lowest possible output setting while still maintaining an ‘air of comfort’. Find and maintain the temperature that’s comfortable to you, and try not to go above those settings.
Help your air-conditioner do its work by wearing cool, casual clothes so you won’t have to rely on higher settings to be comfortable. During bedtime, when there’s less heat to battle, you can lower the settings to save on power. Reserve the high a/c settings for especially hot nights; lowered temperatures have been shown to be highly effective against insomnia.
Recognize Your Enemy: The Sun
The sun is the giver of life, although in the summer, its presence can feel a lot more like death. Any exposure to the sun adds to the heat in the room. You can mitigate this effect by using blackout curtains, blackout curtain liners, or blinds that completely block the sunlight.
Apart from covering your window, you can also decrease heat from sunlight by installing window awnings. These have the advantage of blocking sunlight while also keeping a good distance from the room itself, which means less transfer of heat from the awning to the inside of your home.
The a/c unit itself will also benefit from some shade. Simply keeping your unit in the shade can allow it to operate more efficiently by as much as 10%. And if you’re keeping your eye on your power bills, you know exactly what a 10% increase in efficiency means for your monthly expenditures.
You can shade your a/c however you want – just remember to keep some distance between the shade and the unit itself so as not to block its vents. When these vents are blocked, over time, the a/c’s efficiency will drop significantly until it eventually overheats, which is a problem that you definitely do not want to have to fix in the summer.
Keep Your A/C 100% Clean and Maintained
The better you look after your a/c, the better it can do its job of keeping your home cool and comfy. Make sure to keep all filters clean at all times. Do this at least weekly – twice a week if you live in a particularly dusty area. Don’t just be an a/c owner, be an a/c user: familiarize yourself with how air-conditioning works so you know what’s happening whenever your a/c unit is acting weird.
Find out about maintaining coolant gas levels, safely cleaning the entire unit, and parts that may need to be replaced and/or repaired within the next 2 years. Familiarizing yourself with this knowledge will allow you to be a more efficient a/c user now and in the future.
Consult an HVAC Pro
Find out how to contact licensed and insured HVAC specialists in your area. If you’re looking for the best ways to use window-type or central air-conditioning, consult an HVAC specialist. They can also give your a/c units the checkups they need to keep running at optimum performance.
Since you’re paying for the HVAC specialist’s time, get the most out of it by taking notes. Don’t just leave the room when they’re at work. Give them enough space to do their job, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you have about your a/c unit and air-conditioning in general. If possible, take a video during a/c repairs or configurations, allowing you to review the entire process for future reference. Learn from the best so you can be much better at maintaining your a/c unit’s efficiency.
Consider Replacement if Necessary
A lot of old, inefficient air-conditioners are still humming in suburban homes and condos today, and while replacing them can be expensive, keeping them running could be even more expensive in the long run. So face facts: if you bought your a/c back in the 90s, it’s definitely time to go shopping.
When looking for a new a/c, try to find a model that’s energy-efficient to lower your future power bills. You might also want to look for one with a smart or programmable thermostat, allowing it to automatically adjust its settings to the surrounding heat and your target temperature.