Air conditioning systems tend to drive up your electric bill in warmer months, but you may be spending more on home cooling than you actually need to. With the right tactics, you can keep cooling costs to a bare minimum.
You're Using Other Sources Besides Air Conditioning
If you’re using additional sources to cool your home, such as fans or added window units in addition to your HVAC system, it could be a sign that you’re wasting money. If your air conditioning isn’t cooling your home enough, take this as a sign that the system may not be working properly.
Schedule a technician to come to your home to take a look at your HVAC system to service it, or investigate the problem yourself for any issues that could be preventing it from operating to its maximum potential.
Your Condenser is Cramped
Your air conditioning condenser needs to be located in the right place to dispose of the hot air it removes from your home. If it's surrounded by obstructions or getting too much external heat, your unit may be working harder than it should, driving up the bill. Check that the condenser is located in a shady spot with enough room around it—it shouldn’t be crowded by shrubs or other landscaping.
Your System is Inefficient
An inefficient air conditioning system will definitely lead to wasted money cooling your home. Several signs might point to a system being inefficient.
First, watch for spikes in billing. Obviously when you go from cold to warm weather, you're likely to see an increase, but if temperatures have been fairly steady and you see a sudden increase in power bills, that might be an indication that something's off.
Second, listen for unusual sounds when your air conditioning is on. Most systems are relatively quiet, so if you hear an excessive whirring or clunking, it could indicate inefficiency.
Finally, uneven cooling is another sign to be on the lookout for. If there are certain areas of your home that don’t get cool regardless of what you set the thermostat to, this is definitely a sign to investigate further.
You Keep Repairing Your Unit
Unfortunately, most heating and cooling systems do eventually need replacing. And while this could be a costly venture, it could—in the long run—be more economically efficient to do this than to continuously pay to repair your old cooling unit.
If you find yourself having to repair your unit on a frequent basis, it’s worth considering investing in an upgraded model. Not only will you save money over time on fewer repairs, but you could purchase a more energy efficient system that costs less to operate.
You Avoid Turning Off the AC
There's a myth out there that it’s more cost-efficient to leave your AC on all the time to avoid the effort of your system having to restart every time you toggle it on and off. Some believe doing so leads to an increase in cost which will equate to more than it costs to leave the system running all the time. This is a false conception. Keeping your AC on throughout the day rather than turning it off when you don’t actually need it results in a higher use of energy.
The reason for this is that the constant need for your system to accommodate fluctuating temperatures is more taxing than operating steadily at full capacity. In fact, these systems are designed to be most efficient when they’re operating in high gear. To avoid wasting money, turn your AC off when it’s not needed, rather than just adjusting the thermostat.
You Don’t Have Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans push cool air down towards the floor, helping to circulate the air in your home more efficiently than your AC can do on its own. If you don’t already have them, install ceiling fans in living areas and bedrooms to reduce the strain on your AC, and increase your savings during warmer months.
You Don’t Have a Programmable Thermostat
A thermostat that allows you to automate your air conditioning, setting your system to turn on and off whether you remember or not. The ability to proactively schedule your cooling system to go on only around times you know your family will be home helps avoid unnecessarily cooling your home all day long.
Some smart thermostats can even learn to switch themselves on and off for maximum efficiency as they gradually figure out the rhythms of your home's climate, and the habits of its occupants.