Did you know that according to the federal government's "Energy
Star" heating and cooling guide, the average household spends more
than $2,200.00 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going
to heating and cooling costs? If you are like most homeowners, as long
as your cooling and heating system is keeping you comfortable, you don't
give it much thought. As we continue into the triple digit heat here in
AZ, the last thing anyone wants to do is open that utility bill. The experts
offer a few tips that will keep your home comfortable while maintaining
a reasonable utility bill.
If you are responsible for a car, you are already familiar with the importance
of maintenance. You have to change your oil, check your tire pressure,
brake pads, etc. regularly. This holds true for the air conditioning systems
in your home. Maintenance is always a good idea, knowing that you had
a professional inspect your system to ensure you get the maximum performance
Set up regular maintenance on your equipment. The air conditioning experts
suggest that a 6-month maintenance schedule (before each season) drastically
reduces the chance of a breakdown and can help prevent costly repairs
later down the road.
Changing your a/c filters is one of the most important tasks in your maintenance
program. This is an easy process that homeowners can typically perform
on their own. The professionals suggest the following guidelines to help
you figure out the correct time frame for your A/C filter change.
- If you use 1″ filters, change them monthly
- 2″ filters should be changed every other month
- 4″ filters every 6 months
Changing your air filters regularly will keep the flow of air consistent
across your coils. If you have construction going on around the house,
or have pets, you might want to change them more often.
If you have clogged air filters, air flow becomes restricted, and causes
your air conditioning system to freeze up and blow warm air. These clogs
cause a strain on the air conditioner because it is working harder to
cool the air in your home.
Setting and Programming your Thermostat
- Setting your a/c thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees
in the winter will save you money on your monthly utility bills. If you
raise the setting too high, say to 85 degrees, and then come home and
change it to 75 degrees, your unit will run for a very long time to try
and catch up. In these extreme heat conditions, it may take 1 hour of
run time to lower the temperature in your home. This increases your utility
bill, and adds stress to your system. By keeping your house thermostat
setting 2 to 4 degrees higher when not home, you will actually save money
and not strain your system.
- If your household is empty during the week, for any length of time, the
cooling experts recommend a programmable thermostat.
- A programmable air conditioning thermostat installed this summer, and used
properly, could save about $180.00 a year in energy costs.
- If you have a programmable thermostat, you will want to program your thermostat
to be 2-3 degrees higher (in the summer) and lower (in the winter) than
what you usually have your thermostat set at when you are home.
Duct Test and Sealing
Most a/c duct or venting systems are installed in attics or building cavities
where they are hidden from view and rarely inspected. Fixing duct leaks
could save you more than $200 in your annual energy costs while improving
the comfort in your home.
The results of an APS study in Arizona found:
- In Arizona's desert climate, an average of 50% of your annual energy
bill is spent on running your heating/cooling system.
- As much as 33% of heating/cooling systems' airflow could be leaking
through ducts, causing a loss of comfort and system capacity.
- The impact is most severe in ducts that are installed in attics, where
temperatures can exceed 140 degrees in the summer.
- On average, almost 15% of cooling capacity is wasted due to duct leakage.
While there will always be some leakage, homes with properly sealed ducts
can often reduce leakage by 3 to 5%.
Installation of ceiling fans help keep the air moving in your home making
it seem cooler because they are moving the stagnant air around. Ceiling
fans also distribute the air throughout the home to make the temperature
more even, eliminating hot and cold spots. These can easily be installed
by a professional handyman.
Replace Air Conditioning Unit
The most costly, but one of the best investments you will make, is replacing
your old, inefficient A/C system. A new system will lower your utility
bills and provide more comfort. Check with your air conditioning expert
to learn about warranty and rebates.
Keep your cool and schedule your A/C maintenance appointment with the professionals