It’s hot, really hot. As the high temps of summer start to climb, chances are your anxiety over added cooling costs is on the rise too. Take the pressure off yourself–and your AC unit. Stay cool & avoid AC overload with these top 5 tips from some of Alabama’s leading energy experts.
1.) Make your AC a fan of the fan
Using ceiling fans in conjunction with air conditioning can actually help reduce a home’s energy costs. During the summer months, simply change the direction of the fan blades so they rotate counterclockwise. This will help force the airflow downward creating a “wind chill” effect, says Michael Sznajderman of Alabama Power.
The added benefit is that a ceiling fan enables you to adjust your air conditioner temperature from the recommended 78° to 80°, while still maintaining the same degree of comfort for room occupants. “Even this small increase of just 2° F can lead to as much as a 10% reduction in air conditioning energy use, with minimal costs to run a ceiling fan,” he says.
Added Tip: Set the thermostat to 85° when you’re away from home for prolonged period of time.
2.) Avoid using optional appliances
Other energy guzzlers like clothes dryers and dishwashers are capable of producing a lot of heat. Using appliances like these in the middle of day can push an air conditioner into overload, especially when it’s already working at max capacity to keep the sun’s heat out of your home. “On hot days, wait to use your dryer or dishwasher until night-time,” says Sznajderman.
Alabama Power also recommends avoiding other high heat household appliances on high temperature days such as ovens. Instead, opt to prepare meals using a microwave oven, grill, or toaster/broiler. Sznajderman says “these smaller appliances use about 1/3 the power of an oven broiler.”
3.) Increase Airflow
Replacing dirty air filters is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to maintain proper airflow and enhance home energy efficiency.
“Air filters don’t just keep the air fresh, they save you money on your energy purchases by making it easier for the system to work and improving the system’s performance,” says Sznajderman. For optimal air conditioning performance, Alabama Power recommends replacing disposable air filters (or cleaning an electrostatic filter) once every month.
4.) Redirect airflow to the most common living spaces
Close individual air vents in unused rooms to help minimize the overall amount of air-conditioned space in a home, says Jonathan Handey, certified building analyst and owner of Eco-Three energy experts. If you keep your bedroom door closed at night and still experience comfort issues, Handey explains this could be the cause of improper airflow. “It can be fixed by making sure air is able to get back to a HVAC return, however, it may require cracking the door open.”
5.) Check for Air Leaks
Improperly sealed duct work is one of the most common problems when it comes to wasted home energy use, says Handey. “The pressure of a running HVAC system can cause hot attic air to be pulled into a home’s living environment through leaks in the duct work.” To help identify air leaks, Handey suggests looking for cracks or missing insulation around ductwork. Fixing leaky duct work is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to improve home energy efficiency.