4 Ways To Cut The Costs Of Cooling From Your Air Conditioner Without Upgrading To More Efficient Equipment
Are you tired of paying high electricity bills in the summer or concerned that you'll need a larger air conditioning unit to keep up with your demand for cooling? Before upgrading the equipment or learning to live in a house that is over 90 degrees F in the middle of the afternoon, consider reducing the amount of cool air you need first. These four techniques all allow you to reduce the amount of work done by the air conditioner without any specific changes to the unit itself.
Check for Leaks
First, start by examining the building envelope of your home. The building envelope is the layer including the roof, walls, and floors, and this layer does the lion's share of passively controlling the flow of hot and cold through the structure. Improving your home envelope is easy with basic renovations like the following:
- Draft detection from an energy auditor and sealing to fix the leaks, especially around windows and doors that don't fit as tightly as they once did
- Insulation added to the wall, floor, and ceiling cavities to slow down the transfer of heat
- Higher quality windows and doors, especially if your current models are more than a decade or two old due to recent improvements in design.
Of course, paying for insulation installation or a brand new set of double-glazed windows can cost as much or even more than a larger air conditioner. However, the savings from these kinds of improvements will last for years and increase the sale value of the home too.
Try a New Roof
Are you hoping to get more out of your current air conditioner and about to embark on a roof replacement or repair project? Take advantage of the convenient timing to gain two benefits from one project by making your roof reflect more heat during the summer. Using a "cool roof" product, either in the form of a reflective shingle product or a coating to cover your existing roof, you can significantly lower the cooling load on your air conditioner.
Shade trees can accomplish a similar effect as a cool roof coating, but the types of shade trees that are long-lived enough to be worth planting only grow about a foot and a half to two feet each year, leaving you waiting years for full shade. Planting faster growing invasive trees could also leave you with a cracked foundation or damaged roof from falling branches. A cool roof product reduces your cooling bills this summer without the wait or the chance of foundation damage.
Reduce Sources of Heat
While it's essential to keep heat from coming into the house from the hot air outside, sometimes it's the warmth inside that is pushing your air conditioning to its limits. Also known as internal thermal load, the residential home is full of surprising sources of heat like the following:
- Personal computers
- Incandescent light bulbs
- Cooking appliances
- Showers and baths
- Water heaters
- Air conditioning equipment itself, when located inside the house instead of outdoors.
Even your family is producing heat and releasing it into the air every moment they spend in the house. Choosing to use heat-generating appliances primarily at night when it's cooler is an easy and free way to spend less on A/C or get more cooling without an equipment upgrade.
Develop Better Habits
Finally, consider what free methods for cooling your home you can use to reduce temperatures before switching on the air conditioner. For example, tracking outdoor temperatures with an inexpensive outdoor thermometer helps you pinpoint the perfect time of the day for opening the doors and windows to let in cooler air. Airing out the house to force hot air out with a natural breeze can knock a few degrees off of your interior temperature, making it easier for your air conditioner to bring the air to your desired temperature with less work.
For more information and tips, try talking with HVAC contractors in your area, such as those at Jones Air Conditioning & Electric.