5 Tips that Help Air Conditioners Use Less Energy so You Pay Lower Utility Bills

Published on: July 31, 2012

This summer, your air conditioner may be responsible for most of your electric bill. If you have delayed taking action to lower your air conditioning costs in the past, now is the time to take action.

If you haven’t consulted a professional yet this summer, then this is a good time to do so. Perhaps your current system just needs AC repair or maintenance. On the other hand, it may be time to buy a new, more efficient air conditioner. You may even want to upgrade your wall or roof insulation.

However, before you move on to the more expensive and disruptive options, try these five tips for improving the efficiency of your current air conditioner. Perhaps all you need is some AC repair or maintenance, a better control system, a solution for poorly located ducts, or a way to direct conditioned air to where it’s needed.


1. Take care of neglected AC repair or maintenance

If you’ve been putting it off, the first thing you should do is attend to AC repair or maintenance.

First, make sure that you’re cleaning or changing your air filters on a regular basis, according to the instructions in your owner’s manual. Dirty filters can decrease your air conditioning system’s efficiency by a significant percentage, as well as shortening its life expectancy.

Second, check the parts of the system that are easily accessible. Are your refrigerant lines in good shape? Are your condenser fins clean, unbent, and free from interference?

Finally, have an HVAC contractor check the system for problems. Air conditioning systems should be serviced once a year, and if you’ve been neglecting that, then it’s time to step up.


2. Take a look at your ducts

The duct system for your air conditioning is in your walls, ceilings and/or floors. It may not be possible to access all of it. However, you can check the visible portions for kinks, leaks and other problems. Consider having the duct system pressure tested to confirm that it’s not leaking, especially if you can’t inspect it visually.

Take a look at where your home or building is insulated, and take a look at the locations of the cooling ducts. If any of the cooling ducts are outside of your insulated and air conditioned areas, then they need to be fully airtight and well insulated. For example, ducts on the roof, in the attic, or in the basement may benefit from added insulation. Refrigerant pipes should also be well insulated.


3. Take a look at your air distribution system

Where are your air distribution registers located? Are they on the floor? If your air conditioning distribution is in the lower part of the room, then the cool air may not be reaching the areas where it’s needed most. Adding a fan will help keep the air circulating through the room and will put the cooled air up where it can do some good. Fans also contribute to cooling directly, and they may allow you to turn down the air conditioning. Although they use electricity, fans can often save energy by offsetting the need for AC.


4. Think about investing in zone control

If the cooling in your home or building is controlled by a single thermostat, then you could probably save a bundle by investing in a zoned control system. A zoned system will allow you to target the air conditioning to the areas where it’s needed. You won’t be paying to air condition empty rooms.


5. Just turn down the air conditioning

If you’re wearing a blazer or long sleeves indoors during the summer, then you should consider turning down the air conditioning. There’s nothing wrong with dressing for the season, and overuse is probably the number one reason why people are paying more than they need to for air conditioning.


Perhaps your air conditioning costs can be lowered through AC repair and maintenance, or perhaps you won’t see relief from high energy costs until you buy a new air conditioner. Either way, a qualified and experienced HVAC contractor can help you decide the most cost effective way to use less energy for air conditioning.