To deal with heatwaves, many people rely on air conditioners. Whether you have a window unit, a split system or central air conditioning unit its likely to be a major energy consumer. The increase in energy usage during the warmer months can significantly have your electricity bill higher. You can avoid an exorbitant bill, minimize electricity wastage, and stay cool when running it during the summer.
The first article in our Energy Savings Tips series, addresses optimal use with your air conditioner. Stay cool without having an absurd bill when using your AC unit with by considering these 8 AC usage tips:
Choose the right temperature:
Change the habit of needing to have your AC set to 68 degrees to cool down.
The AC compressor works longer to reach a low temperature, thus more energy is consumed. When the temperature is set to from 72 -76 degrees, the compressor works for less time, leading to less consumption. When you turn on your air conditioner, the thermostat checks the air’s temperature and once the desired level is reached it the compressor stops and the fans moderates the temperature.
Rather than continually adjusting the thermostat and putting unnecessary load on your AC, choose a comfortable temperature like 76 degrees and keep it there. Brendan Stones, General Manager at AirCare says, “For each degree warmer you keep your system, it is estimated that you decrease the electricity usage of that system by 3-5%.”
Clean air filters:
Air conditioners collect dust and debris quickly and this impedes on ideal airflow. Once interrupted, the unit strains to cool the area. According to Mr. Stones, “With extremely dirty filters, the filter may collapse into the unit, which then allow dust particles to be sucked into the unit and block the cooling coils, causing further efficiency loss and requiring additional cleaning of the unit.”
Regularly clean clogged or dusty filters and change your air filters every 1-3 months, which should keep the filter clear and air flowing smoothly.
Avoid generating heat:
As expected, cooling systems are responsive to heat. The air conditioner senses the temperature causing it to assume a room is warmer than it really is. If your air conditioner is situated near appliances that generate heat, it will need to exert more energy until the room in cool. Keep appliances like computers, lamps, or TV’s away from the air conditioner.
Also, choose a cooler time in the day to use heat-producing appliances. Do tasks like ironing, cooking, or drying laundry later in the day to avoid raising ambient temperatures.
It’s smart to have a qualified professional perform maintenance on your air conditioner twice a year if your unit is used seasonally. For units operating throughout the year, a quarterly servicing is advised. The technician checks for efficiency in refrigerant levels, clears drains and fixes any faults. Regular maintenance can save the unit from needing more repairs or breaking down.
Mr. Stones suggests, “Cleaning should also include clearing the drain line to remove algae build up and a visual inspection of the system for dust build up on the fan blades and coils with cleaning or washing as necessary. Don’t forget the outdoor portion of the system (condensing unit), as this is the most exposed to Bermuda’s salt air, as well as dust, dirt and grass clippings.
Invest in a high efficiency rated unit:
An air conditioner that is 10-years-old or older may require more repairs. The frequency of repairs will lessen the unit’s efficiently over time. Newer units use less power and energy to run at optimal capacity which makes them much more efficient. When purchasing a new unit, look for one with a high (SEER) Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. According to Mr. Stones the higher the SEER the better. He says, “The minimum you should see is 16 SEER, but many systems you will see are 20+ SEER, and this can save you a significant amount on your electricity bill.”
Insulate your space:
A proper insulated air conditioner is more efficient, by not letting cold air to escape. Seal any cracks in windows or drafty door frames where air seeps out to keep cool air in. Close the windows and doors in your home while the air conditioner is running. Keep curtains or window shades drawn to shut out the sun.
Use a fan too:
Ceiling or portable fans can supplement the AC by circulating the cold air around your home. The unit will not have to work as hard to reach a cool temperature. Fans use less electricity and will help you to set the thermostat slightly higher to save on electricity usage. Switch on your fan first to ventilate the room and lessen the hot air, then turn on the AC to further cool.
Estimate your usage:
Know the power consumption of your AC to try and estimate the daily usage of your air conditioner. On average, central air conditioner uses 3000 watts. Electricity usage is measure in kilowatt hours and 1 kilowatt hour = 1000 watts.
If your 3000-watt AC runs for 5 hours a day, it consumes 3000 watts x 5 hours = 15,000-watt hours. Converted to kilowatt hours is 15 kWh being used daily for your air conditioner – this equals to 450 kWh monthly. Having this estimate can help you monitor and adjust your usage.
No matter how many air conditioners you have in your home – the key is knowing that your BELCO bill will go up because you are using more electricity. This knowledge will help you be prepared for the increase in charges, but also your air conditioner does not have to be the most expensive item from your electricity bill. Following some of these easy steps will reduce your energy spending and help with having a consistent monthly energy bill.