Before you run out and buy a new air conditioning unit, try some of these 10 ways to optimize your current AC.
1) Keep Your House Closed Up During Hot Afternoons: The general rule is that you should keep your house closed up whenever the outside temperature is 80 degrees or higher. I know it's difficult to do, but leaving your windows open on days hotter than 80 degrees can increase the load on your air conditioner and raise your cooling bill.
2) Get Rid of Dust: Dust particles inside your house form insulation between the indoor temperature and the AC unit outside. The result is a less effective AC unit that has to work harder to get your house the same temperature as it would have if there were no dust. A little-known fact about dust is that the more a home is occupied, the less effective an AC unit is at cooling it.
3) Make Sure You Have a Programmable Thermostat: Most newer air conditioning units have them, but older units may not. You can even get them in models like Nest for less than $200, which gives you the ability to control the temperature around the clock by setting a schedule for when you want it to be on and off. This can save you up to $100 per year in energy costs.
4) Upgrade Your AC Filters: The problem with many of today's disposable filters is that they are too small for an AC system designed before homes had high ceilings and very few windows. If your home has a large number of windows, select a pleated filter that is electrostatically charged and fits at least 1,000 sq. ft.
5) Change Your Air Conditioning Unit's Thermostat: Too many people rely on the thermostat in their home to control the temperature. Unfortunately, many thermostats are designed to work with a 24-seer system. A 14-seer system might not even come close to getting your home within 5 degrees of set point.
6) Clean Your Air Conditioning Units: An AC unit full of leaves, dirt, and other debris needs to work harder and longer. In the end, you just end up spending more money on your utility bill than necessary.
7) Replace Sealed Systems with Vented Units: Even if you live in a hot climate like Texas or Florida, don't assume you need a sealed system that is dependent on a duct system to operate. When you have an oversized AC unit, regardless of whether it's sealed or vented, you will end up paying more for repairs and your utility bill than necessary.
8) Size Your Air Conditioning Units Properly: Sizing your AC units properly is one of the most expensive mistakes homeowners make, but it's also one of the easiest to avoid. Talk with a qualified AC contractor that specializes in sizing HVAC systems, and you will end up saving thousands on your utility bill.
9) Get An Energy Audit: One of the best ways to reduce your energy bills is by getting an energy audit from your local power company. In many cases, you will need to have a professional come out and perform an energy audit in order for your local power company to give you specific suggestions on ways to reduce your electric bills.
10) Get Your AC System Controls Checked: Many homeowners have no idea what their controls are set at, but if you don't keep your system turned down during the winter and up during the summer months, you'll end up paying more for energy than is necessary.