Utilizing your Air Conditioning Unit to Ensure Optimal Performance

Summer in the Northeast is just as hot as summer for most of the country. However, unlike certain areas of the country, we do not utilize our home’s air conditioning capabilities as much. Air conditioning does a good job of providing relief during the dog days of summer, but there are ways to improve their efficiency, whether you have a central air conditioning unit or a one-room/window unit. Here are some tips and guidelines that you may find useful:

Don’t “Overcool” A Small Area

Don’t expect your one-room /window air conditioning unit to cool down your entire household. It is referred to as a one-room air conditioning unit in this article for a reason. Putting your air conditioner on a higher level in an attempt to cool an area bigger than it can handle can result in overcooling of a single area and an increased cost to the homeowner. Also, using a unit that is physically too big for the area it is cooling can result in overuse.  The Department of Energy states that a typical unit should have 20 Btu for every square foot of living space it is responsible. That means if your unit is placed in your living room, and it is a 300 square foot room, your air conditioning unit should have no more than 6000Btu.  Instead of getting a bigger than necessary unit, use fans to help circulate the air throughout your home.

Pay Attention to Your Unit’s Condition

If you have a central air conditioning unit, make sure to get it serviced to ensure it is running properly. If something is wrong with its mechanics, it won’t run at its best. Replacing old window units also will improve the energy efficiency of your home. On average, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, using a 1970s window unit as opposed to a new one results in twice as high energy costs for cooling. So if you haven’t replaced your unit in a while, you may want to look into doing so. Simple fixes like replacing filters or other parts can help as well.

Monitor Your Home’s Air Temperature Even When You Are Not Home

Turning down lights, closing blinds and drapes, and setting the unit temperature higher than you may want are just some of the ways that you can maximize air conditioning efficiency.  Setting the air temperature at 75 can save 40% more energy than setting your air temperature at 70! So while you may like your home to be 70 degrees when you’re in it, setting the air at a higher temperature can cut your costs, and it will not take long for your home to adjust once you set the temperature lower again. Closing blinds will keep the sunlight from heating your household at peak sunlight hours. Lights also produce heat, so turning them down or off will also reduce temperature.  Other things such as minimizing how much baking or cooking on the stove you do will also help with improving efficiency.

Changing The Exterior Can Help Cool the Interior

Make sure that the parts of your air conditioning unit exposed to the elements are not put in a position where their effectiveness may be compromised. Check the plantings around your house so that they are not intruding on any parts of the actual unit itself. At the same time, shading the unit with trees or nearby shrubbery could improve the efficiency of the unit by up to 10 percent, according to the Department of Energy.

Utilize Energy Efficient Products

Anything from energy efficient lightbulbs to appliances can reduce the amount of heat in your household and put less stress on your air conditioning unit. An energy star thermostat will save you 1-3% on your energy bills. Large ceiling fans that are blowing down can also help cool your house.

If you follow these guidelines to improve the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, whether it be a window unit or a central air unit, you should find that you will not only waste less energy, but save money as well.

For more reading and additional tips, check out these sites:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/chill-air-conditioning-costs-7.aspx

http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cooling.html

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/summer.html

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-ways-to-save-energy-when-ai-120022

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/room-air-conditioners

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