Can Shading My Outdoor AC Unit Save Energy?

Published on: July 21, 2014
Piggy bank with shades | AC Southeast®

Many creative homeowners have put their engineering instincts to work to cut summer cooling costs, but not all ideas are scientifically suitable to the home environment. Shading materials such as awnings and trees can make a dramatic impact on solar energy gained by the home through windows, and it might make sense to use a similar approach for protecting your condenser unit from direct sunlight. Some studies indicate that there may be a slight benefit, and others indicate that the amount of shade needed to achieve energy savings is not cost effective.

Airflow Issues in Your Condenser

Although your condenser unit is relatively compact, the air that must move through the unit is significant as heat from the refrigerant coils is released into the surrounding atmosphere. A cover approach to shading your unit may not be big enough to address the area from which the air will come into contact with the condenser. A structural or landscape approach to protecting your unit may be a better choice. Placement of the unit in a location that will be shaded at the hottest time of day may be more effective than a unit that is covered with a shade.

Many homeowners endeavor to shade their outside units by constructing small structures to place over the area. These restrict airflow rather than providing access to cooler air, and this approach may have the opposite impact, reducing system performance and increasing energy costs. If you want to use shade to enhance your system’s performance, you will need to find a solution that provides the maximum amount of shade without causing an airflow restriction.

Maximum Savings with Air Conditioning Maintenance

One of the best investments for cutting summer cooling costs is an air conditioner tune-up. This maintenance service allows for several critical parts of your equipment to be cleaned, adjusted or updated so that the best performance levels are achieved. This can also curb your costs to operate the equipment while ensuring the maximum comfort in your home. Your Southeastern United States HVAC contractor can provide you with this important AC maintenance and tips for additional savings.