Are you changing your AC filters?
All-time summer heat records keep buckling under the weight of rising global temps—a trend that hits home, literally and figuratively, when you receive your monthly air conditioning bill. Unfortunately, mistakes you’re making with your home AC may be undercutting its efficiency, effectiveness, and safety, experts say. “If you have a badly maintained system, it can become contaminated with microorganisms that may be harmful if inhaled,” says Mark Mendell, a staff scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Indoor Environment Group. Mendell mentions asthma problems and allergies as some of those possible harms. Here are seven of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to home AC, and some simple adjustments that can save your lungs and wallet.
You Aren’t Changing or Cleaning Your AC Filters
At a minimum, you should be changing the filter on your central AC unit once every three months—and as often as once a month if your system is running all the time. Neglect this chore, and a dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or freezing up of your unit’s evaporator coil, says James Braun, a professor of engineering and director of the Center for High Performance Buildings at Purdue University. A filthy filter could add 5% to 15% to your AC bill, and will shorten the lifespan of your whole system. Fortunately, replacement filters are pretty cheap—usually less than $10. If you have ductless “split” AC units, there should be a removable panel on your unit that will allow you to wipe off the filter with a rag—no replacement necessary.
You’re Not Having Your System Serviced Annually
You could look up online video tutorials about cleaning your AC unit’s coils and fins—necessary maintenance operations that keep your system up and running efficiently, Braun says. You could also bring in a pro to service your system once a year. The U.S. Department of Energy offers some tips when searching for AC service contractors.
You Don’t Have a Programmable Thermostat
Maybe you’re one of those superhumans who always remembers to adjust the thermostat before leaving the house. But if you’re like the rest of us, a programmable thermostat can save you hundreds on your annual AC bill by automatically raising the temp at those times of day when you’re at work or away from home, Braun says. Newer phone-controllable “smart” thermostats make programming even simpler, he adds.
You’re Setting Your Thermostat Too Low
Research shows the human body is capable of adapting to hot or cool temperatures pretty quickly—like within a week or two. When you consider you’ll cut up to 3% off your AC bill for every degree you raise the temperature—not to mention the potential environmental benefits of lowering your AC use—it’s worth sweating through that adjustment period and setting your thermostat somewhere in the high 70s (or higher if you can handle it).
You’re Not Taking Full Advantage of Fans
Any type of fan, but especially ceiling fans, can help keep cool air circulating throughout your home. That removes some of the burden from your AC system, Braun says. Just be sure your ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise during the summer, which promotes greater air flow.
Your Thermostat and/or Vents Are Poorly Positioned
If the sun or a nearby lamp blasts your thermostat for big chunks of the day, that could throw off its readings and cause it to crank your AC even though your place is pleasantly cool. Especially if you’re away during the day, you may not realize your system is working overtime due to a misplaced thermostat, Braun says. Blocking AC vents with furniture or curtains can also limit air circulation. Unless you spend a lot of time huddled under your sofa, you’ll want to be sure your AC vents are unobstructed.
You Don’t Have Blinds Or Curtains
Bright sunlight is your AC system’s nemesis. By closing blinds and sliding curtains to block the sun’s rays, you’ll also shield your space from the sun’s heat, experts say.
Fans create a wind chill effect that cools people down, not the whole room.
Americans have taken heat for our so-called obsession with air conditioning. But just because we consider it a necessity doesn’t mean we aren’t looking for ways to save on cooling costs this summer. Upgrading appliances to Energy Star-rated, green, energy-saving machines often tops the list of ways to trim your energy bill. But for those sweating in an apartment, upgrading appliances often isn’t an option. So what can renters do to beat the heat while keeping energy costs down during the sweltering summer months?
Cool yourself first
Before you crank up the AC, find ways to chill your body naturally. Staying hydrated is the first step to cool off, but Dr. Kyle Smith, a family physician who practices in Maryland, warns that not all liquids are created equal.
“Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, so when you’re trying to stay hydrated it’s important to drink water or a drink like Gatorade,” he says.
Look for other savings
If you can’t bear to turn down the AC, trim down other costs on your energy bill. According to the Department of Energy, 5 percent of the average home’s electric bill comes from lights. So do an extra check of all lamps before you leave home.
While you’re at it, unplug your cellphone charger: Electronics that are plugged in, but not currently in use, spend “vampire power.” While most everyday devices create vampire power that adds only pennies over the year, cable boxes and sleeping computers — even laptops — can add about $20 together in standby power alone. Double that if your cable box is equipped with DVR.
Keep your AC in shape
According to Joel Cohn, legislative director of the District’s Office of the Tenant Advocate, “There is no requirement that a landlord must provide AC.” If air conditioning is provided, Cohn says, there are some rules: AC units must be inspected annually and maintained in good working order, and AC must be provided for a minimum period of time, typically May 15 through September 15. If your landlord is keeping your AC unit in good shape, your energy costs will be lower. You can help by cleaning or replacing air filters in your unit monthly.
Get what you pay for
Gaps or cracks around air vents, windows and doors allow cooled air to leak out. For the price of a tube of caulk and 30 minutes of your (or your landlord’s) time, you can seal up gaps and keep the air you’re paying for where it belongs.
Keeping doors closed to rooms that aren’t in use also keeps you from having to pay for a cool — but empty — room. When you’re at work, try closing bedroom and bathroom doors to keep rooms cooler.
Move the air that’s there
Corby Lyons O’Connor rents a townhouse in Alexandria and owns property in Florida, so she’s no stranger to keeping cool in a humid climate. Her favorite solution: ceiling fans. “I use those in the bedrooms and would like one in the dining area,” she says. “I prefer them over the air conditioning.”
Fans create a wind chill effect that cools people down, not the whole room. And while ceiling fans are the most efficient, a box fan or another portable fan will get the job done, too. The Department of Energy says that using a ceiling fan allows you to set the thermostat about 4 degrees warmer and be just as comfortable.
Listen to your body
Unless you are very old, young or ill, there’s no medical reason to panic if your air conditioning goes on the fritz during the summer (or you want to try going without, for serious savings). “If the human body is working normally, even if you’re exposed to external warmth, your body temp should stay the same,” says physician Kyle Smith. “For the vast majority of people, air conditioning and keeping cool is purely for comfort.”
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(BPT) – With temperatures – and therefore, electric bills – on the rise, American homeowners are looking for the most effective ways to make the biggest dent in their energy bills; however, many may be overlooking some of the most important energy-saving strategies.
Homeowners are more likely to do simple things around the house to conserve energy, according to the Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey. Those simple things may include changing air filters in a heating and cooling system on a regular basis, unplugging electronics when not in use and turning down the temperature setting on a hot water heater.
While these activities can certainly help save energy and money, Jennifer Franz, an energy efficiency expert at Lennox, a home heating and cooling manufacturer, says homeowners need to take a close look at how they heat and cool their homes if they truly want to make a substantial dent in their energy bills.
“More than half of a home’s energy costs comes from heating and cooling the house,” says Franz. “If you can heat or cool your home more efficiently, then you’ll be well on your way to seeing lower energy bills.”
The first step is to have a professional with Advance Heating and Cooling evaluate the age, performance and efficiency of your heating and cooling system. The Lennox survey found that only slightly more than half of homeowners (51 percent) had taken the proactive step of replacing an old, inefficient heating and cooling system with a new, energy-efficient model, yet doing so can dramatically help conserve energy and reduce utility bills.
Franz says if the air conditioning system is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old – the average life spans of cooling and heating equipment – then it’s time to consider replacing the aging unit with a new high efficiency system.
Significant advances in energy-efficient technologies have enabled homeowners to save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. One example is the Lennox SunSource Home Energy System – a solar-powered central heating and cooling system – that uses energy from the sun, collected from roof-mounted solar modules, to reduce the electricity consumed by a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner.
When the SunSource heating and cooling system is not in use, the solar energy can operate other appliances and electronics. Any excess energy that’s not needed is sent back to the utility company, possibly entitling the homeowner to a credit on their utility bill.
Other energy-efficient ways to cool and heat a home
In addition to replacing an old heating and cooling system, Franz says there are a number of other ways to make heating and cooling your home more efficient. She offers the following energy-saving tips:
- Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping to prevent indoor air from escaping.
- Keep blinds, shades and curtains closed during the day in the summer to block sunlight from entering the home, but open them up in the winter to naturally warm the house.
- Install a smart thermostat, which can be controlled via an app from anywhere at any time, to adjust the temperature based on when residents are at home or away.
- Add extra insulation to the attic, which will help prevent your home’s heating and cooling system from having to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature.
For more energy-saving tips, visit www.lennox.com or give us a call at 614-321-4756 for more tips and help with your energy efficiency.
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Our technician will come on-site to your home or business and troubleshoot your heating and cooling services columbus ohio. When we find what the problem is, we will consult you on the best way to solve it. Whether it be a simple part repair or a new furnace, we will always be forthright about your options, and do what is best for you at all times. We have been repairing heating and cooling services in Columbus Ohio for over 8 years now, and based on our customer feedback, we believe we are doing the right thing at all times.
So, if your AC is not cooling or your furnace is not heating, please give us a call at 614-321-4756 and have a service call scheduled. We are always offering furnace repair specials, so make sure you check out out specials page and see if there is a discount you can get just for using our coupon system.