At First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, energy efficiency is one of the top concerns we hear from our customers. They want their air conditioners to operate as efficiently as possible, not only because of the related economic savings but also because environmental concerns encourage people to conserve energy when possible.
Of course, the easiest way to increase the energy efficiency of your HVAC unit is to replace it with a newer unit. Energy efficiency is constantly increasing in heating and cooling systems, which means that replacing the unit almost always results in a tremendous increase in efficiency. However, air conditioning systems are significant financial investments, with expected life spans of a decade or longer; most people cannot afford to regularly replace them to increase energy efficiency. In addition, the waste created by replacement every few years would probably counteract any environmental benefits you would get from increased efficiency.
If your air conditioning system is relatively new and is functioning well, there are still several things you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your HVAC system or otherwise lower your energy demands. Most of these things are free or cost very little to do, which means that most people can easily incorporate them into their spring prep routine.
The first thing to do is clean your outdoor HVAC condenser unit. This is part of routine maintenance that you can schedule with your HVAC company but is also something that DIY folks can tackle. Turn off the power to the condenser unit, use a wet-dry vacuum to vacuum away debris from the unit’s coils, straighten any bent fins (you can use a screwdriver or even a butter knife to gently move the fins), remove the fan from the top of the unit (leaving all wires connected), and then use a hose to spray water from the inside to the outside of the unit to clean out any remaining debris.
Keep your indoor vents clean and make sure that they are not blocked. While any type of steam cleaning should be left to professionals, you can vacuum dust and debris from the vents. Make sure that both intake and outtake vents are not blocked by furniture, curtains, or blinds.
Make sure that your thermostat is protected from other heat sources. Having lamps, air fryers, popcorn poppers, hair dryers, or other heat-producing appliances near your thermostat can make it think that it is hotter than it is, turning on air conditioning even when the temperatures are cool. Likewise, try to avoid using your dryer, oven, or stovetop during the hottest times of the day, because those appliances will just add more heat to your home.
Finally, check out your ducts. You want to make sure it is all sealed and has no leaks. If you see any leaks, you can use duct tape to seal those leaks. You can also insulate the ducks to keep the air moving through the ducts nice and cool as it travels to its destination.