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5 Easy Tips for How to Make Your Air Conditioner More Efficient

By Jarrod Heil


The average American spends more than $2,000 each year on energy bills, and much of those costs are directly tied to their air conditioning units.

Think about it. Your A/C runs every day for many hours a day, pumping out cool air to keep your entire home comfortable — even the rooms you aren’t in.

You turn off the lights when you leave a room, right? Well, unfortunately, unless you have a window A/C unit, you can’t do that with your air conditioner. You just have to foot the bill for every drop of air it puts out. And that can get really expensive if you’re not careful.

You may think that improving A/C efficiency is tough to do and really expensive, but you’re wrong. With the right improvements, it becomes a seamless, cheap project that winds up saving you thousands of dollars through the life of your unit. Here are the five easiest things to do to make your air conditioner more efficient.

1. Scheduling Annual Maintenance

Improving A/C efficiency begins with scheduling an annual maintenance inspection. By conducting inspections yearly, you’ll be able to spot leaks, damages, energy inefficiencies and potential small problems before they become a major concern.

You should have a licensed HVAC technician inspecting your system every year, and you should never put it off because there’s something more pressing going on. While your air conditioning unit’s health doesn’t sound too pressing, it is. It’s a big part of you and your home’s life, and it’s the appliance in your home that gets used most often.

Wouldn’t you want to spot small problems and repair them as quickly as possible? After all, the alternative could boil down to an extremely costly A/C repair or replacement job.

2. Changing Your Air Filter

Air filters are not only the last line of defense between your family and clean air swirling through your home, but it’s also a big facilitator in efficient airflow from your A/C unit. The dirtier your air filters, the more dirt and dust gets into the air and the harder your air conditioner unit has to work to fight through that dirt and grime.

Air filters stop all that dirt, dust and grime from getting through the air conditioning unit and into the air, so it’s imperative that you change them often. Many air filters actually need to be changed once every few months, but the sooner you swap yours with a new one, the better and cleaner your air and health of your A/C will be.

In layman’s terms, a dirty air filter equals a less efficient air conditioner and less healthy breaths for you and your family. So don’t put your family’s health at risk and make your air conditioner work overtime to complete its job. Change your air filters regularly.

3. Cleaning the Vents

Think changing your air filter is the only thing you need to do to keep the air quality in your home at a high level and help your air conditioner run more efficiently? Think again.

Home’s are dusty. There’s no way around that. As long as the grass is green and the sky is blue, there’s always going to be dust in your home. But if you’re looking for how to increase A/C cooling in a room or how to get the most out of your A/C, taking dust away at the source can a tremendous place to start.

When you go home, take a look at your vents. Then take a paper towel and do a clean wipe of the towel on the back panel of the A/C vents. If your towel comes up clean, you’re doing a great job (and I also want to know how you did it!), but if it comes back with dirt and grime, just know that stuff is floating through the air and making its way to and from your air conditioning unit.

4. Using a Programmable Thermostat

One of the quickest and easiest methods for how to make central air more efficient is to install a programmable thermostat — preferably a smart thermostat. This will allow you to control your home’s temperature to a T, making sure you’re never paying money for wasted energy.

There’s a good chance that you work eight hours per day but, with time in traffic and such, you’re away from your home for nine to 10 hours each day. It would be a waste of money to have your air conditioning unit pumping out cool air all day to keep it a brisk 72 degrees Fahrenheit. After all, there’s nobody there to enjoy it (or complain about it).

Allowing your air conditioner to rest for seven or eight hours while your home heats up to 80 degrees will save you hundreds (or maybe thousands) of dollars each year in energy bills.

If you’re one of those people who turn their A/C down extremely low at night and then bundles up in so many covers that you wind up sweating through your sleep, you’re also costing yourself a pretty penny and putting your air conditioner through more wear and tear.

Consider putting your A/C at a reasonable temperature through the night to ensure it works efficiently — and doesn’t randomly go out in the middle of the night. I’ve been there and it gets uncomfortable, especially during the midst of hot South Florida summers.

5. Considering Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Getting an energy audit can tell you a lot about your HVAC system’s efficiency. It’ll provide you with key insights as to which areas of the unit are working more efficiently than others and what you can do to upgrade those underperforming features.

Bringing in an HVAC professional to look at your system and detail what needs to be replaced, what can stay for a little longer and what the best-performing parts of your HVAC system is well worth it. They’re much more knowledgeable about the best products to buy and which to stay away from.

They’ll likely refer you to Energy Star products, which are created as a partnership 27 years ago between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy with the goal of optimizing the energy efficiency in homes across the country.

If you don’t have Energy Star products in your home, chances are good that your HVAC unit is not working as efficiently as it could. And even if you do abide by these products, but your unit is more than 10 years old, it’s not as efficient as it could be and it may be time for an upgrade.

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