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Albert Cantu’s Money Saving Minute: Air conditioning tips
By Albert Cantu 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.
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.
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!
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!