Reduce Your AC Load Without Breaking a Sweat

Air conditioning has had an amazing ripple effect with its impact on where and how we live and work. Air conditioning also places a tremendous load on our electric systems and fuel used to produce the electricity needed, especially at the hottest time of the day, when peak load electricity may be needed to keep up with the air conditioning. So what to do?

Just a few things you can do to stay cool and help your wallet, the electricity loads and your community.

Inside your home

  • 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 owners’ manual (call me if you need to find it online) for 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 HVAC air supply and return vents clean and free of clutter or obstructions to help optimize efficiency.
  • Install and use ceiling fans. The moving air from the fan makes occupants feel cooler, allowing the thermostat to be set a little higher.  Installing a fan is a beautiful decorative accent as well.  When it’s not too warm, use just the fan (or a freestanding fan) instead of the air conditioner
  • 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 don’t just look good, but they can also 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. Blinds and curtains that diffuse or direct the light are especially helpful on east and west windows to help control glare.
  • When buying a new air conditioner, choose an energy –efficient model and have it sized using ACCA certified Manual J and S software to ensure you are getting the best size unit for your home. Every house and its residents is unique and requires this step to ensure this large investment is the best one. Learn more about choosing an air conditioner.

Outside your home

  • Plant trees near your home to provide shade and keep it naturally cool.
  • Keep outside Air Conditioning (or heat pump) unit (the condenser) clean and free of clutter or obstructions to help optimize efficiency.
  • Shade your outside Air Conditioning (or heat pump) unit. You may wish to consult a professional for the best way to do this since you do want to obstruct the unit and they put off quite a breeze when operating.

To read more about keeping your cool this summer, check out my blog on HomeNav Home Cooling Tips That Help You Beat The Heat.

Here’s to keeping your cool the rest of this summer!

For more tips, tricks, and guidelines to making your home and lifestyle GREEN, visit Marla Esser Cloos, The Green Home Coach, at www.HomeNav.com, or reach out to her at Marla@HomeNav.com.

 

Articles referenced

History of Air Conditioning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_conditioning

Air Conditioning Made the South What It Is, by David Shi http://www.independentmail.com/lifestyle/air-conditioning-its-made-south-what-it

Central Air Conditioning, EPA http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/central-air-conditioning

Kids Guide to Climate Change, EPA http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/impacts/effects/energy.html

Choosing an Air Conditioner http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/central-air-conditioning

1 Comment… add one
Gary Steps August 27, 2015, 5:04 pm

Marla,

Good article, but it implies that this is as good as it can be. As you know, few HVAC techs know how to run a Manual J, and almost none of them know how to do it right. In almost every situation where we at Butterfly are called in, we find that the HVAC systems are grossly oversized. And badly designed and installed.

In most cases, this is because the HVAC company has proposed and installed the largest system they could get away with. NO Manual J calc. In other cases, they ran the calc, but did nothing but enter the size of the building and left all defaults alone – no value given for good insulation, good envelope sealing, good windows, etc. We have found in many cases that the installed system is 2-3 times as large as it should be. This leads to poor performance, poor comfort, and high utility bills.

You also did not note that HVAC systems have made a huge leap forward in capability and efficiency. In our work, we have found that both split systems and packaged air-air systems are far less functional, efficient, and more costly to run and maintain than Ground Source Heat Pumps(aka Geothermal) or ductless minisplits.

If any of your readers would like to understand where they are wrt their HVAC systems,they can contact us at Butterfly. We would be happy to discuss their situation.

Gary
314.713.3589

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