Keeping your home or office cool during the hot months of the year can go a long way toward having happier and healthier occupants.
But it can also be a huge expense, both to your pocketbook and to the environment, due to the eco-footprint of the energy required for air conditioning, as well as the actual cost of that energy. Both of those costs can be effectively reduced through making some changes in your air conditioning habits to conserve energy while still staying cool.
Here are a few tips that can reduce air conditioning energy consumption and cost:
Set a reasonable temperature on your thermostat, not an optimistic one. By setting your thermostat to the warmest temperature that is still comfortable to you, less cooling is required, which reduces overall energy consumption. Turning a thermostat to a colder setting when powering on the unit won’t cool a room any faster, and could result in higher energy costs and unnecessary wear on the equipment.
Use the air conditioner to cool, but use fans to move the air. While an air conditioner works wonders at cooling the air immediately around it, it doesn’t do a very good job at circulating that air to the rest of the room, and by using a small fan or two instead of just the air conditioning fan, your cooling will be more efficient. Adding a whole house fan, or even just a few ceiling fans, can make a big difference in cooling efficiency.
Don’t overheat your thermostat. If your thermostat is mounted where it can receive direct sunlight, or is exposed to local heat from a light or an appliance, your air conditioning might be running too often and using excess energy because of it. Likewise, don’t overcool your thermostat. If it’s right near the outflow from the air conditioner, it may sense a lower temperature earlier, and cut off before the room is cool.
Keep the sun out. In the hot part of the day, shade the windows that are directly exposed to the sun to help keep rooms cooler in the first place, which reduces the amount of energy needed to cool it to a comfortable level. This can be as simple as blinds and a curtain, or as complex as an outside shutter or a plant trellis.
Keep the cool in. Drafty doors and windows can cause air conditioning units to use more energy than they need to, simply because the cool air they produce dissipates to the outside through leaky gaps in walls, windows, and doors. Weatherproofing can be an effective method of reducing energy use for both cooling and heating, and is an easy and low-tech solution.
Reduce the humidity in the room. One of the ways that air conditioners help to make us feel cooler in humid climates is by removing some of the moisture in the air, so by using a separate dehumidifier, the efforts of the air conditioning unit are amplified.
Increase the humidity in the room. In hot dry climates, adding moisture to the air can help to cool a house, so running a humidifier, or having a ‘swamp cooler’ installed, can be a low-energy air conditioning improvement in some regions.
Add natural ventilation if possible. If outside air can be used to ventilate inside spaces and move air, even if only for certain periods of the day, less air conditioning may be necessary. Opening windows to obtain a cross breeze, or using an open window on the top floor and one in the bottom floor, can take advantage of the natural flow of heat and air, without using any additional energy.
Keep your air conditioner maintained. Every piece of equipment needs regular maintenance, even if it’s just a quick examination, but with an air conditioner or other cooling device, making sure the filters get changed, and the coils cleaned off regularly, can make a difference in how well the units work.
Add a programmable thermostat. Having a ‘smart’ thermostat, instead of one with a simple temperature adjustment, can make it much easier to manage the cooling needs of a home, because it can allow for scheduling of optimal times for operating it, as well as automatically shutting it down when not needed.
Upgrade to a new high-efficiency air conditioner. Investing in a new and more efficient unit can result in energy savings of anywhere from 20-50%, according to Energy.gov, not only reducing energy costs, but also increasing the quality of life due to more comfortable conditions.
More about energy conservation during the summer: Spring and Summer Energy-Saving Tips
Image: Jan Tik
This guest post is proudly sponsored by Aircon Servicing Singapore.