Cost-Effective Ways to Improve AC Efficiency

Cooling costs make up a large chunk of household electricity bills, but there are several ways to reduce them. One is to improve the efficiency of your air conditioner or HVAC system.

How can you improve AC efficiency without spending a lot of money? The AC and heater installation technicians at MLD HVAC share some tips below:

Keep curtains or blinds closed. Closing the curtains or lowering the blinds will prevent heat from the sun from entering your home, making it easier for your AC or HVAC system to keep temperatures at a comfortable level.

Avoid using the dryer or oven on hot days. Your air conditioner will have to work harder to offset the warm air that’s released by your dryer or oven, so it’s best to avoid using them on especially hot days.

Replace or clean the air filter. Dusty air filters can prevent cool air from being evenly distributed throughout your home, creating hot spots and forcing your AC or HVAC system to work overtime. So how often should you replace or clean air filters? A good rule of thumb is to replace or clean the air filter every three months to maintain good indoor air quality and indoor comfort. You may have to do so more often, however, if you have allergies or keep pets inside. HVAC technicians recommend replacing the air filters every two months if you keep a pet inside the house, and every 20 to 45 days if you have two or more pets or if anyone in your household has allergies.

Move furniture that’s in front of air vents. There shouldn’t be any furniture near the air vents of your HVAC system, as these could keep cool air from properly circulating throughout your home.

Have the ductwork Insulated. What if there isn’t much cool air coming out of the air vents despite the fact nothing’s blocking them? In this case, leaky ductwork might be to blame. Cool air could be leaking out of holes in the ductwork. If you suspect there’s a leak, you should have a technician from an HVAC services company inspect the ductwork right away.

Keep lamps away from the thermostat. The thermostat may unnecessarily lower the temperature in response to the heat coming from lamps.

Install a programmable thermostat. It’s worth investing in a programmable thermostat if you want to improve your HVAC system’s efficiency and lower your electricity bill. Programmable thermostats can be set to adjust the temperature at certain times of the day. For instance, you can program it to raise the temperature when you’re away at work and lower it back down gradually, so by the time you return home indoor temperatures have already returned to a comfortable level.

Remove weeds surrounding the condenser unit. Weeds growing near your AC or HVAC system’s outdoor unit can prevent the condenser unit—the component responsible for turning pressurized refrigerant vapor into its liquid form—from working properly, so the area surrounding the outdoor unit should be kept free of any weeds or debris. A dirty condenser unit can also lower your AC or HVAC system’s efficiency, but it’s best to leave the cleaning to a professional technician from an HVAC services company.

Shade the condenser unit, Shading the condenser unit can help reduce the strain on your AC or HVAC system, but be careful not to obstruct airflow around it in doing so.

Schedule an AC or HVAC inspection. If you notice a spike in your electricity bill despite not using your AC or HVAC system any more than usual, it’d be a good idea to schedule an HVAC inspection. This should be done at least once a year, anyway. Routine inspections and maintenance help fix underlying issues that could be the culprits behind higher electricity bills. This will also help prevent breakdowns when you least expect it.

How to Tell If It’s Time For An AC or HVAC Upgrade 

Of course, routine maintenance can only do so much. At a certain point, it makes more financial sense to get an HVAC replacement. Individually, HVAC repairs might not seem like much, but they can quickly add up. Not to mention older, less efficient AC and HVAC systems consume more electricity.

So how can you tell if it’s time for an AC or HVAC upgrade?

  • How old is your AC unit or HVAC system? – Thanks to natural wear and tear on its internal components, AC units and HVAC systems become less efficient over time. AC units can last 10 to 15 years, while HVAC systems last roughly 15 years. However, even a brand-new AC unit or HVAC system won’t last long without proper maintenance.

  • Is your AC or HVAC system making strange noises? – Rattling or banging noises are never a good sign. If you hear any unusual noises coming from your AC or HVAC system, it’s possible that some components have become loose or your unit is starting to wear out.

  • Does your AC or HVAC system turn off and on frequently? – An AC or HVAC system that’s cycling between on and off modes could mean two things: either the unit is too big for your home or it needs to be repaired. In either case, you’ll need to schedule an HVAC inspection. This is because the repeated cycling can wear out the AC or HVAC components and shorten the unit’s lifespan.

  • Is it too hot or cold in your home? – This could be a sign your HVAC system isn’t as efficient as it used to be. It could also indicate underlying issues with your HVAC system, like dirty filters or malfunctioning components. The only way to know for sure is to have a technician do a comprehensive inspection.

AC Features Worth Considering 

If you’re planning to replace your AC soon, here are some features that you might want to consider:

Indoor Comfort Features 

  • Compressor sound insulators – The noise coming from conventional AC units can reach 75 decibels, which is higher than a passenger car traveling at 65 miles per hour. Compressor sound insulators reduce the noise coming from your AC units to roughly 50 decibels, the same noise level you’ll encounter in a local library.

  • Sleep-mode feature  – Lowering room temperatures help prep your body for a good night’s sleep. (Your body temperature is about one to two degrees lower at night.) However, if it gets too cold, you could be jolted awake. To ensure cold temperatures don’t interrupt your sleep, the sleep-mode feature slightly raises the temperature in your room at night.

  • Oscillating fan vents – AC units with oscillating vents have an internal motor that sweeps air from side to side to distribute cool air evenly throughout your room.

Maintenance Features 

  • Rust-proof base pans – Over time, rust can form on the metal base pan that collects excess condensation. Rust is a problem in the long term because it eats away at metal until leaks start to form. Installing an AC unit with a rust-proof base pan can prevent this from happening.

  • Check-filter lights – Do you frequently forget to replace the air filter every three months? Check-filter lights will automatically remind you when the filters get too dirty.

One more thing: To make sure your new AC or HVAC system is installed properly, only qualified contractors should handle an AC or heater installation. Here’s a vetting tip: the number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of their level of expertise.

Are you looking for experienced HVAC contractors near you? 

MLD HVAC, a company with more than a decade of experience, offers professional HVAC services and indoor air quality solutions. To schedule an appointment, call us at (512) 528-4258 or fill out this form.

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