In the heat of a desert summer, the cost of air conditioning can be as brutal as the temperature outside. No one wants to be forced to decide between turning the air conditioning off or digging deeper into their pockets to pay for the privilege of cool air. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to reduce A/C unit energy consumption without having to suffer through another savage season.
It’s amazing how much heat our appliances and electronics generate. During the summer it’s vital to pay closer attention to these little sources of additional indoor heat — after all, the less heat you’re adding to your house, the easier it will be for your air conditioner to do its job. If your home is difficult to cool in the summer, make sure these items aren’t making things worse:
Stove or Oven. You only have to stand in front of a 350 degree oven for a moment to appreciate how much heat an oven can add to your home. On hot days, stick with the microwave, crock-pot or a nice, cool sandwich. If you have to cook, do so after dark. Reheat leftovers in the microwave throughout the day.
Clothes Dryer. After your oven, your clothes dryer is the biggest heat producer in your home. Wait to turn on your dryer until bedtime, or use a clothesline for drying when the summer heat is strong.
Hot Water Heater. Depending on where it’s located, your hot water heater can add quite a bit of heat and humidity to your home. Make sure it’s covered in an insulated blanket to keep the heat where it belongs.
Dishwasher. Most dishwashers allow you to choose a heated wash and dry cycle. If yours does, make sure you’re cleaning with as little heat as possible by turning this option off. If it’s not an option, wait to do your dishes until the heat of the day fades.
Light Bulbs. Believe it or not, your light bulbs can add a significant amount of heat to your home. Switch out incandescent and halogen bulbs for fluorescent or LED bulbs to help cool your home.
Keeping the heat out should be among your first strategies in reducing your AC unit’s energy consumption. Install heavy curtains and blinds and keep them drawn on every window that direct sun penetrates throughout the day. If you prefer to be able to see outside, you can opt for reflective film.
Sealing, insulating and venting your attic properly will keep the bulk of the heat hitting your roof from coming inside. You should also check your door seals and caulk around all your windows and outdoor trim. It may seem like a lot of work, but the difference a tight seal makes in efficiency can be astonishing.
Many people don’t realize that they can turn their air conditioner thermostat up a few degrees and not notice a difference if they use plenty of fans. Ceiling fans are an excellent way to take advantage of your own body’s cooling mechanisms to help increase the efficiency of your air conditioning. Just make sure your fan blades are spinning counterclockwise so that you achieve the best effect.
Other simple tricks include wearing less clothing, using lighter blankets, taking cold showers and drinking iced beverages throughout the day. By giving yourself lots of ways to cool down without air conditioning, you may find you can tolerate more heat and let the air conditioner take longer breaks between cycles.
Once you’ve sealed your home, and you’ve become more conscious about when and how you’re adding heat to your home, you can go one step further to help your A/C work harder with less energy. By cooling your air conditioner, it will be more efficient at moving heat away from the coolant and into the environment.
Depending on your air conditioner’s style and location, you can use one or more of these methods to keep your unit cool:
Plant some large bushes, grasses or trees. It’s a significant investment, but when you choose to plant water-thrifty greenery around your air conditioner, you’ll eventually have permanent, long-term shade. Select plants that are large enough to block the sun, but still allow your unit to breathe and make sure to space them at least two feet from your air conditioner.
Install a shade. A shade does the same job as vegetation, but much more quickly. By blocking the sun, you’ll keep your air conditioner cooler and help it work better. Choose a shade that allows for ample air movement, or you’ll be doing more harm than good.
Try a misting system. Misting systems are designed to cool air conditioners with a continual cool water mist. Designers of these systems claim that they can reduce cooling costs by as much as 30 percent, but in the desert, the cost of water can be enough to offset that savings significantly.
As the summer heats up, the cost of air conditioning will increase, but by using these tips for reducing your air conditioning unit’s energy consumption, you’ll save money and stay cooler. If your air conditioner needs a checkup, give Precision Air and Heating a call — we’ll get your unit ready for the hottest time of the year with our complete 35-point inspection, a coolant charge, and a condenser flush.
We want to help you learn about about all things air conditioning and heating! Have any questions or want to see us write about something? Give us a call, chat, or email and we'll do our best to help you out.