An air conditioning or heating system does much more than simply cool or heat the air in your home. These systems also clean the air by removing dirt, dust, mold spores, pollens and other contaminants as the air is drawn through a filter (provided the filter function isn’t neutralized because of clogging or cheap design). Your air conditioning system, if it’s working as designed, also lowers humidity, making the air much more comfortable during warm and muggy outside weather.
While an air conditioning and heating system provides comfort in your home, its operation can gobble up as much as 50 percent of your household budget (not counting mortgage or rent payments). An inefficient or defective system can consume much more energy than that.
These Tips Should Help You Save $$
Here are some energy-saving tips that can save you a boatload of money and help you “GO GREEN” environmentally. Most of them are just a matter of properly maintaining and operating your HVAC system.
- Lower the temperature on your thermostat in the winter, or raise it in the summer, during daytime hours when you’re not at home. You could save up to 5 percent on energy usage for every degree you either lower the temperature in
winter or raise it in the summer for extended periods. Instead of making your system do all the work, wear an extra layer of clothing in the winter to help keep warm, or wear lighter, well-ventilated clothes in the summer to help keep cool. You might be surprised at how quickly you become acclimated to the “new normal” in your home.
- Lower your thermostat to 65 degrees in the winter, or raise it to 80 degrees in the summer while you’re away from home for work, school or any other activity that lasts more than a few hours. However, if you have a heat pump, only lower it by 2 or 3 degrees from your typical setting to avoid making the auxiliary (emergency) heating element kick on when you turn the thermostat back up. The auxiliary heat – typically an electric resistance coil – is costly to operate.
- Even better, install a programmable thermostat to adjust temperature settings according to a preset schedule. This way you can program it to warm up your house just before you wake up, or warm it up or cool it off before you arrive home. These devices are simple enough to program provided you carefully read and follow the instructions. If the programmable thermostat is being installed by a trusted Cincinnati HVAC contractor, they can answer any questions you might have.
- Repair leaky faucets. Even a small drip can be the equivalent of wasting a bathtub full of water each month. If it’s hot water… even worse! Hire a licensed plumber if you’re not confident you can do the job. Consider replacing old faucets and shower heads with low-flow fixtures, which release less water without impacting water uses (in most cases).
- Find and plug air leaks that are allowing warm air to escape in the winter and enter the house in the summer. Seal leaks between a door and its frame with weather-stripping and fill leaks between window frame and wall with caulking. Other areas that may need to be sealed are places where building materials meet on the perimeter of your home (such as drywall and foundation) and spots where utility lines or pipes penetrate the outer envelope of your home. Spray foam insulation may be the best sealant in some cases. One way to find air leaks in your home’s perimeter is to walk along the interior side of outside walls with a smoke pencil or candle, holding it against suspect areas. If the smoke or flame wavers, that’s probably an air leak.
- Seal light switches and electrical sockets with low-cost foam gaskets.
- Make sure your fireplace is properly vented to prevent your chimney from drawing heated
air out of your house. (A periodic chimney inspection is a good idea for safety reasons.)
- Remove window air conditioning units in the winter time to prevent them from drafting in cold air.
- Insulate hot water pipes to prevent wasting heat to unconditioned spaces.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater. By reducing it only a few degrees, you will
lower your utility costs while still enjoying the hot water you want.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) to save energy. While they’re more expensive, they’ll last six to 10 times longer than standard bulbs. Consider switching all your lights to LEDs for more energy savings (and less annoying buzzing when replacing CLFs).
- Install lighting controls such as dimmers, timers or motion sensors.
- Install a ceiling fan in rooms you spend the most time in. These create a cooling effect that will allow you to turn up the thermostat a few degrees, thus saving energy. With most ceiling fans, you can switch the fan-blade direction to clockwise for winter operation. This blows upward, redistributing the warm air that collects at the top of a room down into the lower areas where people congregate. Just don’t forget to switch it back when the weather warms up. Also safe energy by turning off fans in unoccupied rooms, similar to the way your turn off lights when unnecessary.
- Take advantage of natural heating and cooling when outside temperatures and humidity levels allow it. For instance when summer nights cool down, open up windows and turn off the AC at night, then turn the cooling system back on in the morning before the summer sun starts heating up. Don’t leave windows open when the outside temperatures exceeds the indoor temperature.
- During sunny, warm weather, close curtains, shades and other window coverings to the outside sun. This will prevent the rapid, solar warming that occurs when sunlight shines through windows. In the winter do the opposite – let the sunshine in!
- Work with a trusted Cincinnati HVAC company when your heating or cooling system requires maintenance, repairs or installation. Among the best is Jansen Heating and Cooling.