The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that air conditioners alone use approximately 5% of all the electricity produced in the U.S. In addition, each home using an air conditioner emits an average of two tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. So, when you reduce the amount of electricity your home uses during the warm seasons, it can not only save you money, it also can reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
These simple tips can help you keep the heat out and the cool air in, so your home stays comfortable all summer long. You may also save money on your utility bill.
Air Conditioner Tips for Summer
- Clean or replace air filters once per month during heavy-use months. A clean air filter increases airflow and energy efficiency while maintaining good air quality in your home. A dirty air filter actually slows down airflow, causing the system to overwork. In fact, the DOE estimates that when homeowners replace a dirty filter, it can "reduce an air conditioner's energy consumption by as much as 15%." (Need help remembering when to clean or replace an air filter? Do it on the day your utility bill arrives.)
- If you didn't get to it in springtime, schedule a yearly HVAC maintenance checkup by a professional. Regular maintenance can help ensure your air conditioning system isn’t working harder than it has to.
- Invest in the time to understand how to use your programmable thermostat. A recent study suggests a high percentage of homeowners with programmable thermostats do not know how to use them or were inadvertently overriding their thermostat’s programming features. Customizing the thermostat properly and according to your daily routines makes it easier to keep your home cool, without wasting energy.
More Energy-Savings Tips for Homeowners
Here are a few other actions you can take that can make a difference on your summer utility bill:
- Check for gaps around ceiling light fixtures, windows, and doors. Sealing those gaps keeps hot outdoor air from being pulled into the house.
- Switch direction for any ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise to push cooler air down. If you don’t feel a breeze from a rotating fan, try again. Running a ceiling fan when the air conditioner is on can even make a home feel cool enough to set the thermostat at a higher temperature.
- Plant shade trees strategically. Eventually, those trees will block the sun’s heat from even reaching your house. Providing natural shade for the air conditioner’s outside unit also helps with overall system efficiency.
- Keep your window coverings, shades, and curtains fully drawn during the day to reflect heat and glare. This step reduces heat gain by more than 30%, according to the DOE.
- Install retractable window awnings on the west- and south-facing windows to also reflect heat from the summer sun.
- Replace old windows with low-E glass windows, or consider professionally installed window tinting. Tinting can cost substantially less than new windows and provides similar benefits for reflecting UV rays and heat.
- Watch for federal, state, and even local government rebates as well as incentives from your utility company. These rebates sometimes provide cash rewards for energy-saving home improvements.
Bonus: You may want to post this handy infographic on your refrigerator as summer gets underway. Use it to remind you of the many simple ways you and your home can keep their cool when the temperatures rise.