Reduce Your Air Conditioning Costs

If you depend upon an air conditioner, your electric bills increase dramatically in summer. Here are some home improvements that will help your home stay cooler and reduce air conditioning costs.

Solar screens reduce about 70% of solar radiation through windows.

Take a few minutes to inspect your home, and then create an action plan for energy improvements:

  • What type of roofing is installed on your home? Dark colored roofing absorbs a lot of solar energy, and this is converted to heat in your attic and living space. Action: When you next re-roof your home, install white or other light-colored shingles. If you live in a manufactured home, install a reflective white roof coating over your existing metal roof.
  • How much attic insulation is installed in your home? When solar energy heats your roof and attic, heat moves through the ceiling into your home. Attic insulation slows this heat flow, and will also slow heat flow out of your home in the winter. Action: If your attic has less than 6 inches of insulation, add more insulation to total 16 inches or more.
  • Do you have shade over your south- and west-facing windows? Bare windows allow the sun to pour into your home. Shade reduces this solar overheating. Action: Install awnings, sunscreens, or metallized window films in windows that transmit the most solar radiation.
  • Are there leaves or other debris built up on the grilles surrounding the outdoor unit of your air conditioner? These obstructions will reduce the airflow over the condenser coil, reducing the efficiency of your system. Action: Use a garden hose and brush to remove any leaves or debris from the outdoor unit. Cut back any bushes that could slow airflow into the unit.

Lint and grass on outdoor AC units increase electricity cost.

When did you last have your central air conditioner serviced? Air conditioners are complicated, and need to be periodically cleaned and tuned. Action: Have a professional inspect and tune your system. Be sure they check the refrigerant charge and airflow.
How well are your ducts sealed? Duct leaks can allow cool air to leak out into your attic or crawl space, or they can draw hot air and moisture into your home. Action: Seal the seams in your ducts with duct mastic. Don’t use “duct tape” since it tends to come loose.

Both Your Home Cooling Energy Guide and our course Low-Energy Cooling have excellent information about providing comfort while reducing air-conditioning costs.