You’ll need to have your home’s air conditioning system running during the summer to stay cool. That’s just a basic part of Chicagoland Survival 101—our summers are hot and humid. Of course, keeping a home cool doesn’t come for free, and you can expect to see a rise in your electricity costs over the summer because of the extra use of the air conditioner.
However, air conditioning bills in homes are often higher than they need to be. Below we’ve listed 4 of the ways you may end up wasting energy with your AC over the summer—and how you prevent them.
ONE… Forgetting to change the air filter regularly
This is probably the main reason air conditioners drain money over the summer. The air filter for an HVAC system is designed to trap particles like dust and lint, preventing them from getting inside the air conditioner’s cabinet through the return ducts, where they can create trouble for the motors and other components. After a month or more of trapping particles, the air filter will become clogged and restrict airflow. This forces the blower fan motor to work harder and drain power. We recommend you change the filter every 4 to 6 weeks; the frequency depends on the strength of filter.
TWO… Setting the thermostat too low
It’s easy to think of the thermostat in your house as a type of “cooling throttle.” Need more cooling? Just set the thermostat lower! But that’s not actually how a thermostat or an AC works. When you set the thermostat to its lowest setting (usually 60°F on most models), you’re only making the air conditioner compressor stay on longer to reach the set temperature, not work any faster. And the bigger the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the faster heat enters the house. To keep the air conditioner from working too hard and to slow down heat gain, keep the thermostat set to around 78°F. (This is the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Energy.) If this feels too hot, set the temperature a few degrees lower, than raise it by one degree each day until the household acclimatizes.
THREE… Inferior insulation
The air conditioner may be working fine, but your home has poor insulation in the walls or attic. Insulation isn’t only effective in winter, where it traps heat indoors. During a hot summer, it keeps heat out. You can arrange to have your existing insulation upgraded with our professionals.
FOUR… Skipping Spring Air Conditioning Maintenance
It’s vital to have professionals inspect and tune-up your air conditioning system during spring so it’s prepared for the summer weather. If an AC misses its spring maintenance appointment, it will start to wear down and suffer from a buildup of dirt and dust. On average, an air conditioner will lose 5% of its energy efficiency rating each year it goes without maintenance—and that means higher bills than necessary. Maintenance saves money in other ways too: fewer repair bills and a longer system life.
Malek Heating & Cooling has served the Chicagoland area since 1998.