Energy Savings


We all love air conditioning in the summertime; except, of course, when we see our electric bill! The air conditioning systems we grew up with were extreme energy hogs…and we usually paid a price for the cool comfort they delivered. Fortunately, times have changed, and we can enjoy substantial energy savings by installing and using today’s more technically advanced and efficient cooling systems.

The efficiency at which air conditioners produce cooling is refered to as its SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and is a ratio of the amount of cooling produced (BTU) divided by the amount of electricity (watts) used. The higher the SEER, the greater the air conditioner’s efficiency.

Older air conditioning systems have a SEER rating of 10 or under. Today’s more efficient air conditioning systems have SEER ratings as high as 23.  The United States now requires that residential air conditioning systems manufactured after 2005 have a minimum SEER rating of 13 (window units are exempt from this law, so their SEERs are still around 10). The SEER rating is usually shown on a yellow and black EnergyGuide sticker attached to the outside unit of the air conditioner.

How much energy and money can you save by upgrading from your old air conditioner to a modern, more efficient model?  Let’s suppose your older air conditioning system had a SEER rating of 9. If you were to upgrade to a SEER 13 air conditioner (the lowest efficiency available), you would reduce your power consumption by about 28%.  That can translate to energy savings up to $300 per year (depending on your usage rate and the cost of electricity).




10 ways to save on your cooling costs:


There are ways to keep cool without turning on your air conditioner, but when the summer temperatures start busting the 90 (or 100!) degree mark daily, or the humidity makes it feel like you're swimming through a bowl of soup, sometimes air conditioning is a must. Stay cool and save money with these energy saving tips:

1. Keep the AC Lower at Night: During the night you don't require the same level of conscious cool. Try turning your AC down (so it is running less) during your sleep hours or, if your unit has one, utilize the "sleep mode" which lowers the output on a timer.

2. Use Window or Portable Units: If you aren't into cooling your whole home, try using a portable unit to cool just the area you'll be working in. They use up to 50% less energy than a larger central air unit would to cool off the same space.

3. Close Off Vents: The basement is traditionally the coolest room in the home, so try closing all the vents in the lower portion of your home. The cool air will slink down there naturally and by closing those vents, you're forcing all the air up top first, cooling as it comes down.

4. Service Your Unit: Some basic maintenance might be all your air conditioner needs, but most will greatly benefit from a good hosing out, especially if you're plagued with pesky trees like Cottonwoods that drop seeds which stick to the filters and make the unit work harder!

5. Check Your Ducts: Making sure the areas where your ducts run through parts of your home without air conditioning (like the attic) are properly insulated will keep the air coming in as cool as it can be. Paying for half cool air isn't anyone's idea of money well spent!

6. Rearrange Your Furniture: Furniture that obstructs air conditioning vents means you could be cooling the back of a chair or the bottom side of your sofa and although it might appreciate the thought, we're pretty sure you'd rather have that chill for yourself instead. There are plastic pieces you can buy for your vents to help force air in the right direction, but the easiest way is to just rearrange your furniture, even if only temporarily.

7. Try 78 Degrees: 78 degrees is a good point for an air conditioner to run at its optimal performance level. Think of it as a car on cruise control headed across the flat Midwest prairie. It's not chugging along going uphill, it's just plugging away, steady as she goes.

8. Lighting: Turning lights off can help reduce your heat, but paying attention to how much light you let in from open windows can also play a significant role. Although it might seem neurotic to open and close your windows every day with the changing of the sun, it makes a huge difference in how much heat your a.c. is competing against.

9. Is Anyone Home?: If you can, while you're away turn your AC up to 85 and make sure the windows and drapes are closed. Although it will be hot for a few minutes when you come home, the blinds will help keep the sun out (allowing existing cool to stay that way for as long as possible) and the heat won't be so substantial that your unit will have to work overtime to cool the room back off.

10. Don't Forget The Fan: We rely on air conditioners to keep things cool, but having the help of a few supplemental fans doesn't hurt. Using them to circulate the cool air means you don't need quite as much pumped into the room. They use less energy than your air conditioner unit, so having them around as backup is a great idea.