Your air conditioner can account for a significant amount of your home energy consumption. By following the tips below, you can increase your home cooling efficiency while lowering your electricity costs.
The following tips are from The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home.
1. Choose an Energy Star air conditioner – ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners have a higher seasonal efficiency rating (SEER) than standard models, which makes them about 14% more efficient than standard models. In addition, they use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models and must use ozone-friendly refrigerants.
2. Properly maintain your air conditioner – Proper maintenance includes changing air filters (3-4 times a year), cleaning the evaporator coil, clear debris from around the condenser coil, and have a cooling professional check your system annually.
3. Use a programable thermostat - By using a programable thermostat, you can reduce or increase the temperature accordingly by a few degrees at night or when the home is unoccupied in order to reduce energy consumption.
4. Make sure your air conditioner is properly sized - Many factors must be taken into consideration when sizing an air conditioner. In addition to the size of the area to be cooled, the number of windows, the shade your house receives, the level of insulation in the house, and the amount of heat generated by appliances should be taken into consideration. When deciding between a centralized system and separate room units, as a general rule, when the majority of rooms in the house need to be cooled, a centralized system will be more efficient. Refer to Appendix 1 for room unit sizing.
5. Address any possible air leaks in your system – Much of the energy used to power an air conditioner is wasted because of air leakage. Both lack of insulation and air duct leaks both contribute to leakage. A recent studies have shown that 10 to 30 percent of cooled air in an average central air conditioning system escapes through ducts.
6. Consider installing a heat pump or an evaporative cooler - Heat pumps and evaporative coolers can provide a more energy efficient way to cool your home. Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one place to another. Using liquid-filled tubes, heat is exchanged through processes such as compression, evaporation, condensation, and expansion. Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers work by drawing warm air from the outside through a wet pad, which reduces the temperature of the air. Both of these options come in many different configurations and their effectiveness is highly dependent on your specific climate.
7. Use and Install Fans across your home - All types of fans (stand-alone, house or attic, and ceiling) use significantly less energy than air conditioners. Fans are effective at reducing the temperature of a room by several degrees.
8. Make sure your air conditioner uses ozone friendly refrigerants - All air conditioners use some kind of refrigerant. Before 1987, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) were used as the main refrigerant in most air conditioners. CFC’s have been found to deplete the stratospheric ozone which protects humans from infrared radiation which causes skin cancer. If your air conditioner was installed after 1987, more than likely it uses hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s), which are much better than HFC’s, but are still dangerous to the ozone. Ozone friendly refrigerants are now available. If purchasing a new air conditioner, be sure to choose a model that uses an ozone friendly refrigerant, such as R-410A (also known under the brand name Puron).
9. Use shades and window coverings - Using shades will reduce heat gain through windows and help keep cooler air from escaping through air leaks around windows.
10. Shade your air conditioning unit - A shaded air conditioning unit can require up to 10 percent less energy to operate that a unit in the direct sun.