Thursday, August 12, 2010
Keep Cooling Costs Down This Summer
Energy Conservation Tips for Your Air Conditioner
With summer in full swing, you are probably tempted to run your air conditioner as frequently as you can. But while your air conditioner can take the edge off of the sweltering heat, it can also take a significant bite out of your wallet. If you find that you can't do without air conditioning, here are some very important things that Horizon's air conditioning technicians suggest that you can do to maximize your comfort while minimizing your energy use and cooling costs .
Raise Your Thermostat Setting
Be sure to increase the thermostat if you’re going to be out of the house during the day. Every degree you raise the thermostat can results in a 5%-8% savings on the cost of cooling your home. And when you are at home, try setting the thermostat a degree or two higher than you normally would. Chances are you won't even notice the diffence in your comfort...but you will in your energy savings!
Often, when people first come into their house from being outside in the hot weather, they turn on their air conditioners at a colder than normal setting, thinking this will cool the house off faster. But guess what...it doesn't work. Your house will not cool any faster...but your air conditioner will work much harder. This will result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense. Doing this overtime can also lead to frequent air conditioner breakdowns or reduce your air conditioner's life span.
A great idea is to install a programmable thermostat which will automatically raise or lower temperatures at preset times to allow for times when you won’t be at home. These items are inexpensive and they can save you about $100 every year in energy costs.
Join the Fan Club
Combining a ceiling fan with a central air conditioning system is a great way to maximize yor cooling comfort. While it won't actually reduce the room temperature, a ceiling fan creates enough air movement in a room to make it feel about four degrees cooler -- just like the wind chill factor makes the outdoor winter air feel colder to your skin. This allows you to to set the thermostat a little lower than you normally would and feel just as cool. Also, the average ceiling fan only uses about as much electricity as a 100-watt light bulb; so it only costs pennies per day to run.
If you're going to use a ceiling fan, make sure that it is set for summertime operation: the high edge of the blade should go forward first, to force the air downward. You should feel the air blowing down on you when you stand beneath the fan when it’s on. And only run the fan when you’re in the room! It doesn’t actually make the room cooler; it just feels cooler when you’re in the breeze.
Apply Some Sun Block
Direct sunlight can really do a number on your ouside air conditioner by making it work significantly harder. In fact, an air conditioning unit operating in the sun uses as much as 10% more electricity than the same one operating in the shade. Do your air conditioner a favor: planting trees or shrubs nearby to shade the unit. You can also purchase and install canopies that you can place over your air conditioner unit to shield it from the sun's rays.
In addition, it is important to keep unnecessary sunlight and heat from getting inside your house. Direct sunlight streaming through windows and baking through walls during the summer months can significantly increase your air conditioning costs. Be sure to look for ways to shade sun-exposed windows and exterior walls of your house. Be sure to draw shades and curtains during the brightest hours of the day. Consider using exterior window coverings or awnings. Plant trees or bushes in front of walls or windows. You can even apply reflective film on windows that prevents much of the sun's rays from entering your home's interior.
Other Ways to Keep Cool Around the House
This may sound obvious, but be sure that all windows and outside doors are shut when the air conditioner is on. After all, you don’t want to “cool the whole neighborhood.”
Avoid placing lamps, TVs, appliances or other heat sources near the air conditioner thermostat. Heat from these items may cause the air conditioner unit to run longer than it should.
Make sure that no furniture or large objects are obstructing ducts or fans. You want to allow the cool air to circulate freely.
Cut back on indoor activities that generate heat such as laundry, cooking and dishwashing. If you must do these chores, wait until later in the evening when it is cooler.
If you have any unused rooms, turn off the cooling in these areas and keep the doors closed.
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