Reducing AC Costs

If you live in a hot climate and use an air conditioner, you can expect your electric bills to increase as summer heats up. But there are some home improvements that will help your home stay cooler and reduce air conditioning costs.

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 mobile 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 attic, it also moves through the ceiling and heats 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 curtains over the windows that receive the most sun.

  • 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, lowering 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. 

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 The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency have extensive information about maintaining comfort and reducing air-conditioning