Albert Cantu’s Money Saving Minute: Air conditioning tips

By on July 23, 2013

There’s no denying that Texas is home to some of the hottest weather in the country.  Beating the summer heat can take a toll on your wallet and your HVAC System.

But no need to sweat, I’ve got some tips that will help save you energy and money while keeping you cool.

Let’s start off with the basics.

Your air conditioner is designed to do three things: circulate, cool and dehumidify the air in your home.  A simple way to know if your system is working properly is to just… feel the air.  Does it feel cool and dry? If yes, then your system is working.  Is it cold and wet?  If so, you may have a problem.

It’s important to have your system checked out twice a year, in the spring and fall.  A regularly maintained system has a better chance of surviving Texas heat.

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Assuming your system is working correctly, the next question is: “Should I turn my air conditioner off or leave it on when I’m not home?”

I hear this one all the time. You want to save money, but you don’t want your house to be so hot it won’t cool off.

The rule of thumb is to never turn off your system.  Remember earlier I mentioned it’s designed to circulate, cool and dehumidify?  Turning off your a/c during the day in the hot summer months will make everything in your home hot and humid, meaning it has to work overtime to pull that hot and humid air out when you get home.

That often means a larger energy bill – and I know you don’t want that!

Keeping your thermostat set to 78-80 degrees while home is ideal. Lots of people don’t know this, but HVAC systems can only efficiently lower the temperature in your home 20 degrees cooler than outside.

When you leave for the day, turn your thermostat up 2-3 degrees. That way you can still save money, but your home will cool down quickly when you set it back down.

So remember, turn UP not OFF.

If you have a programmable thermostat, you can program it to go up during work hours, and start cooling an hour or so before you come home. CPS Energy offers a free programmable thermostat.

Keeping your thermostat at 78-80 when you're home will keep your a/c from working so hard.

CPS Energy offers a free programmable thermostat that, properly programmed, can save you money and keep you comfortable.

Filters are also an important part of your HVAC system.  I think of them as the lungs of the system.  They are designed to filter out particulate matter such as pet dander, pollen, dust, lint and dust mite debris. Yuck!

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Make sure you buy replacement filters that fit properly. Don’t buy a see-through filter — if you can see through it, it’s not going to filter properly.  Very inexpensive filters can let a lot of dust and debris through, which will stick to wet, cold coils, causing the system to clog. That keeps fresh air from flowing, making it run longer and harder, resulting in higher energy bills and a shorter life cycle for the system.

Higher-end filters are usually one inch thick, pleated and come with a performance rating system.   If you suffer from allergies, look for a higher FPR (filter performance rating).

By following these simple rules you’ll reduce your cooling costs which puts money back in your pocket, and nothings “cooler” than that!

This Post Has 21 Comments
  1. Rachel Simmons on said:

    These tips helped me out a lot living in Hawaii and trying to cool down my house while trying to save money on very high electric bills thank you so much!!

    • Albert Cantu on said:

      Wow!! Thanks Rachel for taking the time to watch our Money Saving Minutes and for commenting on them. Have a great day. -Albert Cantu

  2. Rachel Simmons on said:

    These tips helped me out a lot living in Hawaii and trying to cool down my house while trying to save money on very high electric bills thank you so much!!

    • Albert Cantu on said:

      Wow!! Thanks Rachel for taking the time to watch our Money Saving Minutes and for commenting on them. Have a great day. -Albert Cantu

    • Jim V on said:

      This would be true if you darken the rooms with window treatments during the day. Sunlight on carpets, furniture, painted walls etc; acts as heated up irons, that will keep your a/c cycling long into the cool nighttime hours. If the house is darkened during the day, interior items will only heat up to the ambient room temperature. Again, if totally dark, you save the most by just turning things off.

      • Albert on said:

        I like your thinking Jim. You’re right keeping your home as dark as possible will keep a lot of the radiant heat out and reduce the load on the HVAC system. I’d say if your home was adequately insulated, tightly sealed and maybe radiant barrier in the attic, you could possibly get away with turning off the HVAV system. Not sure I would try it… especially on a hot summer day. Thanks for your suggestion and comment. -Albert Cantu

    • Albert on said:

      Pete, this may be true for some folks depending on how well insulated the home is. However, its not practical for someone with a home chock full of airleaks or and inefficient system. You’re right when the system is off you’re saving money but once the system is turned back on to cool it works overtime to remove heat and humidity from the home. Enough of this pattern will eventually lead to a higher bill. Thanks for your comments. We apprciate them. 🙂 -Albert Cantu

  3. winops on said:

    Beneficial tips. Air Conditioning System’s filter plays a important role always. Proper cleaning is must for the filter of the system to make it more efficient.

  4. Ed Flores on said:

    What about a window unit? How do I clean it? Do I have to remove it? It’s pretty heavy. By removing the back can I clean with a water hose to remove debris/ dust?

    • Albert on said:

      Hi, thank you for your question, which by the way is a good one. You don’t necessarily need to remove it from the window but you will need to be careful not to get water inside the home. Simply remove the casing on the back you can clean the unit with plain water froma a water hose. This will loosen up any gunk, wet leaves, that have bulit up over time. By keeping your systme clean you increase the effiency and life of the system. I hope this helps you. Thanks. -Albert Cantu

  5. Lise on said:

    I got this thermostat and have not been able to get help for use with my smart phone. They said someone was going to call back. They never did. I am wondering if I did the right thing.

    I forgot to put that I wanted to be notified for comments.

    • Scott Wudel on said:

      Sorry. It appears your question may have been about our Smart Thermostat. Did you call the toll-free number at (866) 222-7645? If so, please provide your name, phone number, and customer account number via my email address: sawudel@cpsenergy.com. I will provide it to staff here who work directly with the manufacturer, and that should help get you a call back. Hope this helps.

  6. Roxan Wright on said:

    hese are great tips for anyone looking to #savemoney! I have decided to change my window type ac to a split type as it has a higher EEF (Energy Efficient Factor). It really sucks to pay for a higher electricity bill just because of your ac.

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  7. carlossigma115 @yahoo.com on said:

    I just bought an inverter air conditioner,my question is should I keep it running 24/7 or turn it off when I leave the house? Which way saves more money?

  8. On or off at different rates on said:

    Hi I reside in Phoenix,Az and Ihave a different plan on my electric bill We have different rates like from noon till 7pm is a high peak and the rest is a low peak my last month bill was very high and I wanted to know if turning off the ac during high peack hours would help me save $$ I leave on townhome apartments but this ac unit gets this place really cold even if I have it set at 79 or 81 I have tryed to turn off and the most hot temperature in the apartment has been at 83 my kids complain that is too cold at night when we set it at 77 so I dont know what to do Ineed some advise my bill was 250 and I had the termostat at 79 I didnt turn off but I did notice the unit was working on and off more .

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