Over the years, homeowners have received some misguided advice about their central air conditioning systems, most often from inexperienced or unscrupulous contractors. Some of this advice can contain just enough logic to make you wonder whether it's accurate.
Just as your system depends on a tune-up, your knowledge might need a “tune up” to set the record straight about this misguided advice – and potentially save you money on your summer electric bills at the same time.
1. Temperature Setting
Misguided advice: Keep your air conditioner set at the same temperature while you're away from home so you don't have to constantly fiddle around with the thermostat. Then your home will be at the temperature you like it upon your return.
Wise advice: Let's take it from the top. It's true that you probably wish to spare wear and tear on the compressor – the most energy-draining component of your air conditioning system. But remember that your air conditioner also works to combat humidity, so turning it off doesn't make complete sense, either.
Address both concerns by raising the temperature on your thermostat by 10 degrees when you leave home for extended periods of time. This way, your system will run less often – reducing wear on the compressor and saving you money on electricity – but still manage humidity. As for the “fiddling” part, consider using programmable thermostats, which you can set ahead of time so that your home will be just as cool as you like it when you walk through the door.
2. Using Ceiling Fans
Misguided advice: Keep your ceiling fans turned on at all times so that your air conditioning system doesn't run as long; you'll cut your electric bill and give your compressor a break.
Wise advice: The rotating blades of ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. The fans will not lower a room's temperature by even one degree. This said, ceiling fans evaporate moisture on the skin and create a wind-chill factor that might send a chill down your spine – so much so that you might be tempted to adjust your thermostat by a few degrees to compensate.
If you increase the temperature, you should indeed save money on your electric bill. Just remember to turn off a ceiling fan when no one is in the room; otherwise, it's a complete waste of money – with no one around to enjoy the wind-chill benefits.
3. Size of Your System
Misguided advice: Stretch your budget and buy the biggest air conditioning system you can afford. This way, you'll never have to worry about your cooling needs being “covered.”
Wise advice: You should purchase a system that is sized properly for your home – an assessment that should be undertaken by a licensed heating and air conditioning professional. An oversized system usually spells trouble because while it cools down a house quickly, it actually works too fast – turning off before it has had time to properly dehumidify. This process is called short cycling, meaning that a system constantly turns on and off – a true energy waster if there ever was one.
4. Open or Closed Vents
Misguided advice: Want to save money on your summer electric bill? Just close the vents in rooms that are unoccupied.
Wise advice: This advice is more than misguided; it makes no sense. When cool air comes rushing through a blocked duct, it stays trapped within the duct. So closing a vent won't save you a nickel.
If you have rooms or an area of your home that you no longer wish to cool, an efficient alternative is a zoned cooling system, which divides a home into different zones, each run on its own thermostat with dampers on the ducts that open and close accordingly.
5. Catching a Cold
Misguided advice: Go easy on the air conditioning this summer if you want to stay healthy. It will just give you a summer cold.
Wise advice: Chilled air can make you more susceptible to illness – that part is true – but the common cold is caused by a virus, not the temperature alone. So enjoy your air conditioning system this summer and try to stay healthy by changing your HVAC filter regularly – to improve the quality of the air you breathe every day – and washing your hands frequently.
Contact The Hignell Companies by clicking below if you wish to follow the best advice we can give you: to schedule a maintenance check. We are experts in your home.