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Residential Air Conditioning Tips

As the mercury rises, so can the costs of keeping your home cool. And while news reports about high energy prices may have you in a sweat, AAA’s HVAC department has some tips to help you save money while keeping your home cool this summer.

  • Set back your thermostat 2-3 degrees lower at night because your greatest heat loss occurs at night.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat. By doing so, you can program the thermostat to turn down your air conditioning/heat for you when you leave for work when no one is home and after you go to bed when everyone is asleep. A programmable thermostat can run anywhere from $110 to $250 installed.
  • Replace your filters every 30 to 60 days. If you have a permanent filter, clean it with a mild detergent, per manufacturer’s recommendations, every 30 to 60 days.
  • Air conditioning manufacturer recommends having the equipment tuned-up annually. These tune-ups pay for themselves when the technicians tweak the systems for peak performance. Maintenance is a great way for homeowners to have the peace of mind that their equipment has been taken care and should be working at the efficiency levels they originally paid for.
  • Hire a professional to seal and insulate leaky ducts, and to ensure that the airflow distribution system serving your equipment is operating at peak efficiency.
  • Open your foundation vents each spring if your home has a crawl space under it.
  • Prune back shrubs and remove debris, like grass and leaves that may block airflow to your window air conditioner or your central AC compressor.
  • Shade room air conditioners from direct sun to reduce their workload. Clean the filters once a month and replace them as necessary to promote energy efficiency. Raise the setting when you go out to reduce operating costs.
  • The location of your air conditioner has a lot to do with how efficient it will be. If you have a choice, locate your units on the north, east or the best-shaded side of your home. If the unit is exposed to direct sunlight, it has to work much harder and use more energy to cool your home.
  • On very hot days, you can save energy by closing the fresh air intake on your unit. Cooling fresh, warm outside air requires more electricity than re-cooling the air that is already circulating in your home.
  • On hot summer days, the temperature in your attic can reach 150 degrees. Improving the ventilation in your attic will lower the temperature of the entire house and make your air conditioner’s job a lot easier. Installing an attic fan that is controlled by a thermostat to exhaust the hot air can greatly improve the comfort of your home.
  • Depending on the size of your home, you can save 3% on your cooling costs for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can mean savings of up to 15% in cooling costs.
  • Fans can make your air conditioner’s job easier while saving you money. Pedestal and ceiling fans improve the air circulation in your home, allowing you to raise the air conditioner’s thermostat. In moderate heat, fans can sometimes completely replace air conditioners. Ceiling fans use only about one tenth the electricity of a typical home air conditioner, and therefore cost only one-tenth as much to operate.
  • To stay most comfortable during the hottest hours of the day, do your cooking, laundry and bathing in the early morning or late evenings. These activities all increase the level of humidity in your home, making it less comfortable and forcing the air conditioner to work even harder. If other heat generating appliances, such as irons, ovens and blow dryers are used only in the early morning or late evening, your home will stay cooler.