On average, the American home spends about $2,200 a year on energy bills, with about 42% of that going to heating and cooling. If your AC unit is outdated, inefficient, or improperly sized for your home, those costs can be even higher.
With the current high cost of living, it has become increasingly important to make sure that your AC unit is as energy-efficient as possible to help save you money. But, before you can start implementing energy-saving strategies, you need to know some signs of an inefficient AC unit.
Rising Energy Bills
Over time, the coils and other components of your AC unit will naturally degrade and become less effective at cooling your home. This results in your AC unit having to work harder to maintain the same level of cooling, leading to increased energy consumption and higher bills. In addition, dust and other debris can accumulate on the coils and other parts of the AC unit, further reducing its efficiency.
A significant increase should warrant a call to your HVAC contractor to have them take a look at your unit and determine if a repair or replacement is necessary.
When your AC system is not cooling properly, there are a number of possible explanations.
One possibility is that the system is not sized correctly for the space it is trying to cool. An undersized unit will have to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, leading to increased strain on the unit and higher energy bills. Another possibility is that the system is not properly charged with refrigerant. If the level of refrigerant is low, it will prevent the system from cooling effectively. Finally, poor cooling can also be caused by a dirty or blocked air filter. A dirty filter restricts airflow and prevents the evaporator coils from doing their job.
Poor cooling is likely characterized by:
- Hot and cold spots
- High humidity levels
- Takes a long time to cool home
When an AC unit short-cycles, it turns on and off more frequently than normal. This can be caused by a number of factors, including a thermostat that is not properly calibrated, a clogged air filter, or a refrigerant leak. Short cycling puts unnecessary stress on your AC unit, which can lead to early deterioration and repair or replacement.
If your AC unit is making strange noises, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Common causes of noise include loose parts, a broken fan blade, or a refrigerant leak. Some common noises include:
If you notice any of these noises, shut off the unit until a professional can take a look at it. If you’re in Sacramento and need air conditioning or maintenance services, Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning is your go-to contractor.
Upgrade to a Newer Unit
If your AC unit is more than 15 years old, it’s time for an upgrade. Newer AC systems are much more efficient than older ones, thanks to advances in technology. For example, newer AC units might use more efficient compressors and refrigerants, and they may be better at regulating temperature.
To determine how much you could save by upgrading to a newer unit, look at the SEER rating. The SEER rating is a measure of an AC unit’s energy efficiency. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit is. Generally, it should be at least 13, but preferably higher.
Have Your Unit Regularly Serviced
During a service, a technician will clean the coils and filter, check the refrigerant level, and inspect the unit for any damage that could be affecting its performance. A well-maintained AC unit will not only run more efficiently, but it will also last longer, saving you money in the long run.
In addition, regular servicing can help to prevent potential problems before they cause major damage. As a result, it is always best to schedule an AC service at least once a year.
Get a Smart Thermostat
A regular thermostat can only be set to one temperature, meaning that your AC unit will run even when you don’t need it to. A smart thermostat, on the other hand, can be programmed to adjust the temperature automatically based on your schedule.
For example, you can set it to cool your home before you arrive home from work, and then turn it off when you leave for the day. This way, you’re only ever using your AC when you need it, which can save you a lot of money on your energy bills.
Use a Ceiling Fan
A ceiling fan complements an AC system by actively circulating the air in a room and creating a wind-chill effect. The moving air makes people feel cooler, so they can set their thermostats at a higher temperature. This reduces the amount of work the AC system has to do, which improves its efficiency and extends its lifespan.
Using a ceiling fan can help to reduce energy costs by up to 40%. Therefore, ceiling fans are an effective and cost-saving way to improve the efficiency of an AC system.
Insulate Your Home
If your home is not properly insulated, a significant amount of the cool air produced by your AC can be wasted. Proper insulation helps to keep cool air in and hot air out, which makes your AC unit work less hard and improves its efficiency.
Insulation also helps to reflect heat away from your home, making it easier for your AC to maintain a comfortable temperature. There are many different ways to insulate your home, including:
- Weather stripping
- Sealing gaps and cracks
- Attic insulation
- Replacing old window
A properly insulated home can save you up to 30% on your energy bills!
Use Curtains or Blinds
In addition to insulation, curtains and blinds can also help to keep cool air in and hot air out. By closing them during the day, you can block out the sun’s heat and prevent your home from getting too warm. To maximize their efficiency, choose curtains or blinds that are light-colored, thick, close-fitting, and made from a material that doesn’t allow heat to pass through easily.
Light-colored curtains reflect heat better than dark-colored ones. Thick curtains block out more heat than thin ones. Close-fitting curtains seal out more heat than loose-fitting ones. Furthermore, curtains made from materials like bamboo or linen don’t allow heat to pass through as easily as those made from synthetic materials.
Work With the Pros
Improving the efficiency of your AC unit doesn’t have to be hard. With a little bit of effort, you can make a big difference in how much energy it uses. However, if you want to maximize its efficiency, it’s best to work with the pros.
At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento, we specialize in AC repair and maintenance, and we can help you to get the most out of your unit. We’ll also offer services such as duct cleaning, air purification, furnace installation and repair, and water heater maintenance.
We are an A+ rated company with the Better Business Bureau, and we’re proud to offer our customers the best service possible. Contact Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today to schedule a consultation!