3 Ways To Improve Your AC Efficiency Without Paying A Cent

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There are a lot of ways to improve your air conditioner's energy efficiency, but most of them involve spending some money to save money – installing a programmable thermostat, investing in high quality filters, and having your ducts clean all require some cash upfront. If you've already done that, or if you're just looking for a thriftier way to save some cash, check out some ways that you can save money on your energy bills without having to spend any money first. 

Lamps and Electronics Can Confuse Your Thermostat

Your living room lamp and your big screen television may not put out enough heat to raise the temperature in the room, but they definitely put out enough heat to warm up your thermostat. If a light bulb is located close to your thermostat, or if your television is positioned so that its back is close to the thermostat, its temperature gauge is going to register the temperature in the room as a few degrees hotter than it really is.

That higher temperature reading is a problem in the summer, because your air conditioner is going to work that much harder to cool down the room when it's really not necessary. Rearrange the furniture to move heat producing items away from the thermostat, allowing it to get an accurate temperature reading. That way, your air conditioner won't work any harder or run any longer than necessary to reach the desired temperature.

Large Appliances Raise the Temperature

Unlike lamps and electronics that merely confuse the thermostat, large appliances like dryers,ovens, or dishwashers can actually generate enough heat to raise the overall temperature. The excess heat spreads throughout the house, making you feel hotter and more uncomfortable and forcing your air conditioner to work harder to compete with the rising temperatures.

If you choose to use your appliances early in the morning, before the sun reaches its full strength, or if you wait until after the sun goes down for the day, your home's temperature will already be lower, and the appliances won't put quite so much strain on your AC system. You may also want to consider grilling out in the backyard or making cold dinners on particularly hot, humid days. Not only is a barbecue or a cold meal a nice change of pace on summery days, it also helps take some of the pressure off your air conditioner, allowing it to use less energy. 

Dirt and Debris Can Bog Down Your AC

Keeping your air conditioner clean can go a long way toward helping it run at peak efficiency. The condenser, which is the part of the unit located outdoors, needs periodic cleaning to get rid of dirt and debris. You can clean it out yourself to improve its performance.

To clean the condenser, turn off the power to the unit, and find the metal box that covers the metallic blades that surround the condenser (these blades are called fins). You'll probably have to unscrew the screws that attach the box to the base of the unit. A Phillips head screwdriver will usually do the trick. Once you remove the screws, lift up the box and clean the fins with a soft brush, being careful not to damage or bend them.

Once that's done, unscrew the fan and lift it as far away from the unit as you can – it will be attached by wires, so you won't be able to lift it too far. While you or someone else holds the fan, use a vacuum cleaner to suck up and dust or debris inside the unit. Once that's done, replace the fan and the box, making sure to reattach all screws. Then turn the power to the unit back on and turn the air conditioner on to be sure that it works.

There's no need to spend a fortune to improve your AC efficiency. These three tips will go a long way toward decreasing your energy bill without costing you anything but your time. If you run into any problems with your AC unit, call air conditioning contractors right away so they can quickly fix the small problem.

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