When the weather finally makes the big switch from blazing hot to delightfully cool, you may start to get savings on the mind. After all, the more money you save, the more you’ll have for holiday gifts, a great New Year’s Eve outfit and, of course, those pumpkin spice lattes with extra whipped cream. So when you take a break from clipping coupons and preparing your meals for the week (fast food expenses add up quickly!), take a moment to think about an often overlooked or untapped resource for savings - your air conditioner. When your HVAC unit is maintained and used correctly, you can save up to 30% off your energy bills. A few small changes can put a chunk of the money you normally spend on energy back into your pocket.
No matter how often this step is stressed, people still tend to neglect their air filters. Imagine you’re drinking a delicious fruit smoothie. Everything is going fine until a chunk of strawberry becomes wedged in your straw, keeping you from your tasty drink. This is what happens to your air conditioner when it has dirty, clogged air filters. Not only does a dirty air filter underperform when it comes to trapping dirt, dust and allergens, it restricts air flow, which causes your air conditioner to work harder and longer. The last thing any homeowner wants on a chilly, winter day is for a motor to burn up from overexertion and leave them in the cold. Make it easy on yourself and your air conditioning and heating system by switching your air filters out once a month. Need help remembering? Try syncing the swap up with other monthly tasks, like paying rent or administering your pet’s heartworm medication. Or, you can always leave it up to your smartphone and set a recurring monthly reminder.
Hardly any households have the older thermostats anymore. The problem is, the people with these smart, programmable thermostats aren’t using them! Setting an air conditioning schedule, based on your work and weekend schedules, is the very best way you can save on energy. In the winter, there’s no need to keep your home at a comfortable 72 while you’re at school or the office. Don’t pay to heat a room that nobody’s using! Did you know that the human body sleeps more easily in colder temperatures? Program your thermostat to set a cooler temperature while you sleep. In the winter, for every one degree cooler you set your thermostat, you save in between one and two percent in energy costs. Imagine if your home was 10 degrees cooler during the hours you are away. You could be saving anywhere from 10-20%. For the hours you are at home, consider dropping the temperature to 70 degrees. It’s an easy way to save and a great excuse to wrap up in a warm blanket or sip a hot cocoa.
This last one is an easy fix. When it comes time to switch your heater on in the winter season, don’t forget to reverse the rotation of the ceiling fans in your home. When using your heater, your fans should rotate clockwise. This will push the rising warm air back down and keep you comfortable for longer. Make sure the speed is set to the lowest setting to avoid any wind chill in your home. When spring rolls around, simply switch them back to their counter-clockwise rotation.
I bet you didn’t think energy savings could be this simple! Go ahead and set your monthly reminders now. (It’s not a bad idea to stock up on air filters before the holiday season makes trips to the store into all-day errands.) Most programmable thermostats are pretty self-explanatory. If you need the help of its manual, dig it out or search for an online copy. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the thermostat-fueled side of energy savings! These energy-saving tips for your air conditioner are super easy and won’t cost you a dime. So what are you waiting for? Those lattes aren’t going to pay for themselves!
This article was prepared and written by Shelley Davenport. Shelley is a native San Antonian with over five years of professional writing experience including editorial, newspaper, magazine and copywriting. She graduated from Louisiana State University in Shreveport in 2011. Shelley represents Elmer's One Hour Air Conditioning, a heating and air conditioning business in San Antonio.