If you are like most homeowners, there is a good chance that you rarely think about your air conditioning system unless it happens to quit working. There is also a good chance that you are making some common mistakes that can negatively affect the efficiency, safety, and lifespan of your air conditioner. By avoiding the following missteps, you can save money on your utility bills and prevent costly repairs.
Neglecting the Filters:
A dirty air filter can increase your monthly utility bill by as much as 5 to 15 percent, shorten the lifespan of the unit, and even cause the evaporator coil to freeze up. You should clean or replace your filter every one to three months depending on the amount of usage and the air quality where you live.
Not Calling for an Annual Tune-up:
Just like your car, your air conditioning system needs periodic maintenance in order to work reliably and efficiently. A yearly inspection, cleaning, and tune-up by a licensed HVAC technician is the best way to keep your air conditioner in top shape. The cost of an annual tune-up is far less than what you can expect to pay for a repair if your air conditioner actually malfunctions.
Not Upgrading to a Programmable Thermostat:
One of the easiest ways to keep your summer cooling costs in check is to adjust the thermostat up a few degrees whenever you are at work or otherwise away from home. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget to make the adjustment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life. A smart or programmable thermostat can adjust the settings automatically and save you hundreds on your utility bills.
Setting the Temperature Too Low:
Every degree that you raise your thermostat can shave up to 3 percent off your utility bill. Try adjusting your thermostat up a degree or two and give yourself a couple of weeks to acclimate to the new temperature. Keep adjusting the temperature up until you find a good balance between comfort and energy savings.
Not Using Fans:
Ceiling and box fans help circulate the air, which can reduce the strain on your air conditioner. They also create a “wind chill” effect that can allow you to remain comfortable at warmer temperatures. If your ceiling fan has a reversible switch, be sure to set it to counterclockwise for the summer months.
Not Positioning the Thermostat and Vents Correctly:
Thermostats should be installed away from exterior doors, direct sunlight, and areas subject to drafts to ensure that they are able to read the ambient temperature of the air correctly. You should also make sure that your vents are not blocked by furniture or curtains.
Cooling Unoccupied Rooms:
You could be spending money to cool areas of your home that do not necessarily need to be cooled. If you have a basement or spare bedroom that you rarely use, you should close the vents so that more of the cool air will be directed to where you need it.
Leaving Blinds and Curtains Open:
Finally, remember to close your curtains or blinds during the heat of the day to keep out the heat from the sun’s rays.