Can you imagine living in a world without air conditioning? Back in 1904 when the World’s Fair was held in St. Louis, air conditioning was just a concept, and people relied on other methods to keep cool. Whole house fans and window mounted room air conditioners were used in many areas, but it wasn’t until much later that air conditioning became a common feature in most homes.
Fast forward to today, air conditioning is now an essential part of modern life. With the advent of air conditioning, television, and electronics, we’ve pretty much moved inside and became private in a new sort of way. We no longer rely on local climate and natural ventilation to stay cool, and architecture has changed as well, with homes and buildings no longer needing porches to keep cool.
While air conditioning has changed where and how we live and work, it comes with a cost. Much of our electric bill is due to air conditioning, and it places a heavy load on our electric systems, infrastructure, and fuel, especially at the hottest time of the day when peak load electricity is often needed to keep up with the demand for air conditioning.
There are ways to reduce the energy demands of air conditioning, and it starts with homeowners taking steps to make their homes more energy-efficient. Here are some tips to reduce your AC load without breaking a sweat:
- Service your air conditioning system annually. This preventative maintenance will keep your unit running well and head off bigger issues down the road.
- Change your filter regularly. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. If in doubt, change your filter every 3 months. Besides helping your AC to run more efficiently, this helps keep your inside air cleaner.
- Keep air supply and return vents clean and free of obstructions to help optimize efficiency.
- Install and use ceiling fans. The moving air from the fan makes you feel cooler, so you can set the thermostat a little higher. Installing a fan is also a beautiful decorative accent. Consider a whole house fan. It makes your whole house cooler for less than AC costs.
- Replace light bulbs with LED bulbs. They will reduce the load on your air conditioner (traditional incandescent bulbs create a lot of heat!)
- Install and use window treatments. Window treatments help control light and heat, protecting your furnishings and helping reduce your utility bills. Close curtains during the day to prevent heat and solar gain.
- When buying a new air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model (check at www.Energy.gov) and have it sized using ACCA-certified Manual J and S software to ensure you are getting the best sized unit for your home.
- Use the power of nature by planting trees strategically around your home to provide shade and help keep it naturally cool.
- Keep the outside air conditioning or heat pump unit clean and unobstructed to maximize its efficiency.
- Consider shading the outside unit of your air conditioning or heat pump with a tree or bush, but make sure to consult a professional first to ensure the unit is not obstructed or the plant is not damaged by the unit’s airflow when it’s running.
As we look to the future, it’s essential to consider the impact of air conditioning on our environment and take steps to reduce our energy consumption. By using energy-efficient models, improving home insulation, and incorporating renewable energy sources, we can continue to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning without compromising our planet’s health.
In conclusion, air conditioning has transformed the way we live and work, providing comfort and convenience to millions of people worldwide. While it’s become an essential part of modern life, it’s essential to consider the cost associated with it and take steps to reduce its energy demands. By making simple changes to our homes and embracing new technologies, we can continue to enjoy the benefits of air conditioning while reducing our impact on the environment.