Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Get the best out of your air conditioner - Tips on efficiency

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 5% of all electricity consumption is prevalent for the purpose of air conditioning commercial and residential spaces in the United States alone. The newer and modern air conditioning systems are more energy efficient and use less power than older units. So you can save a lot on electric bills and benefit the environment by switching over to the latest air conditioning units.

Here are some energy saving tips to help you make use of your air conditioner in an efficient manner.
  • Size – Not many people are aware of buying the right size unit for their home or office. The area you wish to cool indoors is one of the most important factors of maintaining energy efficiency. It is not wise to install large air conditioning units for small areas and small air conditioning units for large areas, as it will consume more power and energy.
  • Ratings – Energy Efficiency Ratio otherwise called EER is used to measure the energy efficiency of air conditioners. Now it’s mandatory for people to install air conditioners according to the national appliance standards. Cooling systems must have an EER rating of 10.0. According to the U.S Department of Energy, a higher rating indicates better energy efficiency.
  • Installation – To maximize energy efficiency, it is imperative to install the air conditioner carefully. You also need to make sure that the unit is at level, installed in a shaded area and the drainage systems and internal mechanisms are functioning properly. This will ensure that there is no heating effect of direct sunlight on the system’s heat exchange unit.
  • Location – You can install the cooling unit away from electrical appliances like television sets or lamps, since the heat from those appliances can trigger the working of the air conditioner unnecessarily and thereby use more power. So the actual location of installing an air conditioner has an impact on your energy bills and its working energy efficiency.
  • Usage – Remember to switch off the unit during working hours or when you are out running errands or on a vacation. This way you can reduce the amount of time the air conditioner runs. To ensure efficient operation, you need to service and maintain the unit on a regular basis according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also install a thermostat to set the temperature accordingly in different indoor areas according to an individual’s room usage. A fan can also be used elsewhere to circulate cool, conditioned air indoors.
  • Keep the filter clean – You can cut energy costs by up to 15% if you properly clean and maintain your system’s filters. A dusty and dirty filter reduces air flow and also allows contaminants to flow indoors. The unit’s filters should be examined once a month so that it can be cleaned or replaced accordingly.
  • Maintain vents and ducts – The air ducts should be properly insulated especially the ones that pass through any unconditioned areas like the attic. Check for leaks or holes in the ductwork. Ask your contractor to conduct a thorough check of your vents and ducts, especially if you have a central air conditioner installed. You also need to close unused indoor spaces and make sure that there is no furniture obstructing the vents.
  • Use fans for cooling – An appliance that offers supplemental cooling is the simple fan. No one says that it can replace an air conditioner but substituting it on cooler days will help you save up to 60% on energy costs. You can set the fans on high in air conditioned spaces except on days when the weather is humid. This will help in circulating cool air in all the rooms.
  • Check for leaks – Check to see if there are any hot spots around the house. This help you determine if there are any leaks near openings like windows, doors and fireplace dampers. Weather stripping and caulking can be applied on doors and windows to seal any leaks.
  • Set the thermostat – Setting your thermostat to the right temperature can help in cooling your indoors effectively. The right temperature would be 78 degrees Fahrenheit during hot weather conditions. This will help in reducing your cooling costs anywhere between 12 to 47 percent. You will be running your unit far less efficiently if you set it too low as it will not cool the indoors faster.
  • Insulate the house – The easy way to help your wallet and the environment is to insulate your home thoroughly. Installing insulation for the attic, basement, floors, doors and walls will separate your living space from the outdoors thereby making it more comfortable to live in. You can maintain a stable temperature throughout the day and lower utility bills. There are a lot of benefits for natural light, but the sun's rays can increase the heat in your home. You can install drapes and blinds to reduce the sun’s heat from entering inside. If you do need natural light indoors, then plan on installing reflective film on windows to obstruct and block out some of the heat.

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