Making the Most of It: 10 Ways to Improve the Efficiency of Your HVAC System
Your air conditioner might be working smoothly now, but that doesn’t mean that it’s actually properly working on all cylinders. It’s important that you maintain your air conditioner when it’s working to ensure it won’t crash on you one day. Keep reading to uncover ten tips on how you can boost your air conditioner efficiency.
1. Increase Your Air Conditioner Efficiency with Retrofitting
Retrofitting is a great way to maintain your air conditioner efficiency. Your AC might need to be retrofitted, meaning you may want to look into adding some new technology or features to your older air conditioning system.
You’ll want to look into retrofitting if you are sick of fixing your old unit or moving to a new location and don’t see the point of investing in a new system since you’re leaving soon.
You might also consider retrofitting if you need to buy time before you can invest in a new system or if you’re looking to increase your HVAC energy efficiency and get better overall comfort.
Your system can get retrofitted if it’s energy intensive, well maintained, and it’s a big system that gets a lot of use. The Department of Energy has discovered that you can save 35% a year in energy costs if you increase your HVAC energy efficiency when you add or replace parts.
When you retrofit, your total upgrades can improve your comfort with temperatures that are consistent. You can retrofit both your air conditioner and heating equipment.
2. Reduce Heat Gain
Another way to improve your air conditioner’s efficiency is to reduce the heat gain. Here are some easy ways to reduce your AC’s heat gain.
Seal Air Leaks
If your house is leaky, it’s difficult to cool it. If your house is older there’s a good chance it’s never been air sealed. Air sealing your home will help your heat gain problem, especially if there are leaks on your ceiling because heat rises.
Speaking of the attic, that’s the first place you want to check for insulation, as that’s where the highest temperatures are. If your attic insulation is less than a new home should have, then you’ll want to add more insulation.
Make sure you don’t insulate your attic until you’ve sealed the air leaks in your attic first.
Spread out the Insulation
If your attic’s insulation wasn’t put in uniformly or it’s been disturbed, you can make a reduction of your heat gain just by spreading it out.
Keep the Sun out
If your home is getting direct sunlight, that can really affect your cooling loads. So make sure you shade your windows, especially if they are getting east or west exposure. It’s best to shade your window from the outside, but indoor shading also works.
Get More Efficient Lights and Appliances
Electric appliances and lights are great but they also waste a lot of heat that gets added to your home. Take incandescent lights, for example, these lights convert almost 90% of the electricity used into heat.
Or if you’ve been holding on to your old fridge, if you replace it with a newer model, you will save a ton on your electric bills.
Move Appliances to Other Areas
If there is a room in your home that is already overheating due to perhaps too many west-facing windows, that might not be the best place to put your new IT appliance. The heat in that room could become unbearable, so relocate those appliances to cooler areas.
3. Programmable Controls and Thermostat
Do you often forget to turn down your thermostat? It happens to the best of us. Don’t worry, you can increase your HVAC energy efficiency by having an automated system. This system can control your thermostat and even your lights.
You also can easily adjust your system so your air conditioner goes off and on at your schedule.
4. Invest in Energy Efficient HVAC Equipment
You can double and even triple your return on investment when you replace a system that is at least 10 years old. Newer AC models have high SEER ratings. This means these newer systems are more HVAC energy efficient.
Today’s AC’s SEER ratings are usually around 14 to 18. This is a huge improvement from the units that were made a decade ago.
You also might want to look out for Energy Star rated models. These models follow strict guidelines and are incredibly efficient.
5. Improve Heat Removal
Just as it’s important to reduce heat gain, you also want to make efforts in your home to improve your heat removal. Here are a couple of easy steps you can do to help remove heat from your home.
Please note that these steps only work if your AC is already properly functioning.
Replace Dirty Filters
When something is wrong with your AC and you call an HVAC service person the first thing they will check is the status of your filters. So you might as well do this on your own frequently as a good maintenance habit.
If your filters are dirty, then air flow is reduced which means there’s less cooling happening in your home. Dirty filters can even reduce your air flow so much that it freezes your air conditioning coil which can damage your compressor.
You can avoid this problem altogether if you keep an eye on your filters, and clean or replace them when they get dirty.
Keep The Vents Clear
You’d be surprised what some people put over their air conditioning vents. Everything from dressers to dog beds and piles of clothes that is either partially or completely covering vents in homes.
When you choke off your airflow, vents increase their pressure in the duct system and then air flow is reduced throughout your home. You want to make sure that all return and supply vents in your home are able to easily move air.
You also want to check to make sure all your louvers are open. Don’t close vents in rooms you’re not using. That only creates a problem.
Look for Duct Air Flow Problems
Your air conditioning equipment isn’t the only thing that’s getting your house cool. Central air conditioners distribute air throughout your house through ducts.
Sometimes air doesn’t get where it needs to be if the duct is disconnected. This usually happens in attics and crawl spaces. Often the air flow can be reduced because ducts are being restricted.
6. Preserve Airflow
You can help your HVAC energy efficiency by simply keep[ing your units clean and clear of leaves, dust and debris. You also want to make sure that your vents are not getting blocked by any objects or furniture. When you preserve airflow it’s important to the efficiency of your AC unit.
7. Be Vigilant About Maintenance
When you regularly maintain your AC (before there’s a problem) this keeps your equipment running efficiently and it maximizes your HVAC energy efficiency. You want to keep seasonal maintenance appointments at the beginning and end of heating and cooling season. You will also save money this way from expensive repairs.
8. Tweak Your Thermostat
Chances are you won’t notice when your AC goes up or down one degree Fahrenheit. People usually aren’t aware of changes this small in temperature. Your AC can be a lot more efficient if you simply set it closer to the outside temperature.
If it’s hot outside, an HVAC that is set to 75 degrees will use 18% more energy than one set that is set at 78 degrees. And when you set your system to 72 degrees then 39% more energy is being used than if it was set to 78 degrees.
You’ll want to turn your AC up more when there is no one in your home. Which is why again programmable thermostats make controlling the temperature of your home super easy.
9. Change Air Filters
This is worth repeating since blocked air filters commonly cause HVAC energy efficiency issues. If a filter gets clogged, then your equipment uses more power and runs longer. Filters trap dust before it can damage parts when it enters the system.
When your filter gets clogged, dust can get collected on motor parts and fan blades which slows down your unit and wastes electricity.
10. Power Down Electronics
When you’re not using electronics like computers, machinery, media systems, and exercise equipment, you’re going to want to turn them off. Not only will this save you energy, but these electronics also generate a lot of heat. Which means, your AC will use less energy to cool down your space when these items are turned off.
Even when you’re not using electronics, these devices can draw a lot of energy simply by being plugged in. The US Department of Energy found constantly-plugged-in devices account for five to ten percent of total residential energy use.
Improve Your Air Conditioner Today
Now that you know how to improve your air conditioner efficiency, start making these changes today. Some of these changes are small but can make a huge difference and save you a ton of money in the long run. For more homeowner resources, be sure to check out our blog.