Lowering your cooling costs in the summer is worth undertaking because the payback is immediate and long lasting. Three factors contribute to higher air conditioning bills: dirt, air infiltration and heat gain. Here are a handful of steps to tackle those three frustrations and reduce your cooling costs:
- Check the filter for the air handler. If it’s dirty or dusty, clean or change it. Some filters are reusable, while others have to be replaced each time. Filters carry MERV ratings, which designate the size of airborne particles they trap. Short for “minimum efficiency reporting value,” the rating system runs from 1 to 16. Higher-rated filters trap more particles. When choosing a better filter for your air conditioner, consult the owner’s manual to learn the maximum value for your system or ask an HVAC professional. Using too dense a filter is as bad as running the air conditioner with a dirty filter because the air handler relies on a precise amount of air flowing through it for maximum efficiency. Too much dirt or too dense a filter slows the passage of air, driving up your cooling costs.
- Inspect the outside condenser and remove any plant debris around it. Clean the fins with a moderate to mild spray with a hose to knock the dust off. Make sure that nothing covers the exhaust fan. A clean condenser exhausts the heat from your home more quickly, resulting in lower energy costs and longer system life.
- Seal the air leaks. Look at the junction between your window frames and the exterior and seal with caulk. Check the weatherstripping around the exterior doors and replace if yours is worn.
- Add insulation to your attic. Although there is some expense associated with insulation, it helps lower your cooling costs for the long term. If you can see the joists in your attic, you might benefit from more insulation.
- Shade your windows or install thermal windows to lower heat gain.
Professional maintenance of your air conditioner also lowers your cooling costs, and the experts at Russell Heating & Cooling can help. Contact us today for a service check anywhere in the Hampton Roads area or to get professional advice regarding any of your HVAC needs.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about lowering cooling costs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.