Stop Paying Extra on Cooling Costs This Summer with These Tips

Saving money is always a good idea. Here are 12 tried-and-true strategies to save money on cooling costs in your Gladstone, Oregon, home this summer. These practices can also keep indoor comfort levels high.

1. Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance

If you do nothing else, have your air conditioner serviced before the Gladstone weather turns warm. Annual equipment servicing can reduce AC operating costs by up to 40 percent. Scores of industry studies have shown that preventive maintenance can also decrease the potential for unexpected AC repairs and expensive air conditioner replacements by as much as 95 percent.

Breakdowns are expensive, so preventing them with equipment servicing is an essential part of keeping energy costs low. Annual maintenance is also the key to lower utility bills. As an added bonus, your equipment will operate in high-performance mode, and that will keep your home more comfortable.

2. Change AC Air Filters Regularly

Filters protect your air conditioner from airborne contaminants and small debris that can penetrate the system and gum up the works. Running your AC with a dirty filter can damage your equipment. It can also obstruct airflow. That forces your air conditioner to work harder to push conditioned air through the blockage. You’ll pay for that extra work with higher utility bills. Running your air conditioner with a dirty filter can also pollute indoor air and shorten the lifespan of your AC equipment.

Check your filters every month and change them every 30 to 90 days. Filters need replacement when your can’t see any filter material through the dirt. The frequency of filter changes differs from home to home. The more people and pets in residence, the more often you’ll need to change the filter. Replacing filters as needed can reduce your energy usage by up to 15 percent.

3. Maintain the Outdoor Unit

Check your air conditioner’s outside unit regularly. It should be flat on a level surface. Foliage should be cut back by at least three feet. Ensure that the area around the unit is cleared of leaves, twigs and other obstructions that could impede airflow. Keep the unit clean by periodically rinsing it gently with a garden hose and wiping it dry.

4. Use Circulating Fans

Ceiling fans can augment the cooling output of your air conditioner. Fans don’t actually cool indoor air. Rather, they circulate the cool air produced by your air conditioner more efficiently. They produce a wind chill effect that can make you feel six to seven degrees cooler. With the help of circulating fans, most homeowners can raise the thermostat by up to four degrees with no reduction in comfort. That, in turn, can reduce utility bills. Fans should run in a counterclockwise direction. The more cooling you want, the higher the fan speed should be.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat

With high-tech controls like programmable thermostats, your air conditioner can be set to maintain different indoor temperatures at different times. These devices can automatically raise temperatures when no one is home or while you’re on vacation. They can then increase cooling output so that your house is comfortable by the time you return home.

Setting the thermostat as high as you can and using a programmable device properly can cut cooling costs by up to 10 percent. Keeping the thermostat at 78ºF, for example, could save you up to 18 percent on electric bills depending on your customary indoor temperature settings.

If you’d rather not program the device yourself, learning thermostats and smart thermostats can calculate the most energy-efficient settings for you. These devices monitor your behavior with the thermostat. They use that information to maintain indoor temperatures according to your preferences. With programmable Wi-Fi thermostats, you can even adjust temperatures in your home remotely using any internet-connected device.

6. Block Out Solar Heat

Sunlight penetrates window glass and can generate considerable heat inside your home. Wherever possible, use drapes, blackout curtains, shutters, shades or blinds to reduce incoming heat during the day. Insulated shades and highly reflective blinds can cut solar input by up to 45 percent. The lighter the window treatment, the more effectively it will deflect solar rays.

7. Add Insulation

Wherever there are breaches in your home, cold air can leak out and hot air can creep in. Attics and crawl spaces may have openings through which cool air is routinely being lost. Adding insulation can reduce your cooling costs, especially if you have an older home.

8. Upgrade Your Cooling System

Is your air conditioner over 10 years old? Has it received spotty maintenance? Is the unit on its last legs? If so, you could save a bundle on cooling costs with an AC upgrade. Air conditioners today must have SEER ratings of at least 13. Older units might have SEER ratings of only 8 or 9. If you install a new air conditioner with even a minimum SEER, you’ll still save significantly compared to your existing unit.

9. Ventilate at Night

Gladstone temperatures cool off considerably after the sun goes down. Opening a window or two after temperatures drop can increase ventilation in your home. The increase in air circulation can flush out the day’s hot, dry air and replace it with fresher and cooler air from outside.

10. Supplement Your Air Conditioner

Room air conditioners and window units can be used to supplement air conditioners in hard-to-cool spaces like upstairs bedrooms. These portable cooling systems can help you reduce output from your central air conditioner. They can also improve comfort in hot, stuffy rooms. Depending on the efficiency of your current unit and the efficiency of a room or window unit, you could cut energy costs by up to 40 percent.

11. Have Your Ductwork Cleaned and Sealed

The ducts that supply your home with cool air are easy to forget. However, neglecting your ductwork can have expensive consequences. According to Energy Star, 20 to 30 percent of cooled air routinely escapes through ductwork leaks in average American homes.

Holes, loose connections and cracks all allow cool air to get out. Your air conditioner can be in overdrive trying to make up for the losses, and utility bills can go through the roof. Duct sealing prevents those losses and can save quite a bit on energy costs.

Another potentially expensive problem can occur when ducts develop a buildup of dirt, dust and debris. This coating can contain pollen, mites, bacteria, pests, viruses and mold. These particles can pollute indoor and block airflow. That makes your AC work overtime, drives up energy costs and reduces the service life of your equipment.

12. Lighten up Your Roof

A dark-colored roof can increase energy bills by absorbing heat from the sun and transferring it into your home. A dark roof can achieve a temperatures of 150°F or more. A light-colored roof, especially one made of reflective material, can be up to 50°F cooler.

At Watts Heating & Cooling, we want to help you save money. Our comprehensive HVAC service agreements and preventive maintenance tune-ups are designed to keep your air conditioner in mint condition. A fine-tuned air conditioner is an efficient air conditioner. The more efficient the system, the lower your energy usage will be. Call us 24/7 for emergency AC repair. You can also call us during regular business hours to learn more about energy-efficient air conditioner upgrades.