Air conditioners in the Sacramento area get quite the workout in summer and even spring if we have a significant heatwave. Fortunately, modern central cooling systems are quite durable and can handle the heat while providing chilled air into your living space.
But how much should you really have to pay for your cooling system to tackle the warmer weather this year? The costs of keeping your home comfortable can seem steep. After all, our HVAC systems account for half of a home’s entire energy use. The good news? You might actually be paying more than you have to for your cooling efforts, and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Air conditioners can lose energy efficiency and start increasing your utility bills. However, you can take some steps to improve the AC system’s efficiency, therefore cutting costs. Read on for some of our energy-boosting tips.
Raise the Thermostat!
No, we aren’t asking you to make your home hotter than it already is during warm weather. But the truth is, you very well may be keeping the thermostat of your AC system set lower than it needs to be. Lower thermostat settings don’t provide you with cool air any faster—the lower setting just keeps the compressor running longer, therefore draining more power.
Energy.gov recommends a temperature setting of 78°F during the day, and raising it even further at night when you’re sleeping or less active.
Clean and Clear Away the Outdoor Condenser Cabinet Area
The condenser cabinet of your air conditioner is where the system exhausts the heat that it removes from inside your house. It can’t do this as effectively as possible if the cabinet grill is dirty, or if branches or lawn mulch are obstructing it. You’ll want to clear out the area by about a foot on all sides.
You’ll also want to clear away any dirt and grime with a low-pressure hose.
Open Room Vents and Clean Off Registers
Homeowners often think they can make their HVAC systems more efficient by closing off vents to the rooms that really don’t need air conditioning (or heating). But it’s actually the opposite that’s true. Your air conditioner is sized to your specific home, and by closing the vents you can cause the air conditioner to short-cycle, exacerbating wear and tear and leading to premature breakdown.
So do a walk-through of your home and make sure all the vents are open and unobstructed. Next, check the registers. If they’re especially dusty and dirty, wipe them off. This will help improve airflow, not to mention your indoor air quality.
Change Your Air Filter!
There aren’t many maintenance tasks we’ll ever tell you to do on your own. But changing out your air filter is a task you can and should do on your own. The air filter that comes standard with your HVAC systems is in place to protect the system from dust, dirt, and other debris that can harm its interior components.