Seven Ways to Lower Air Conditioning Costs

According to the United States Department of Energy, air conditioning and heating your home can take a 43% bite from your utility bill every month. To reduce these costs during summer, here are some tips for you to consider.

Shade Your Home

Most of the heat that accumulates inside a home comes directly from the sun as it shines through the windows or onto the roof. Planting leafy trees all around your home’s exterior will effectively lower the amount of heat reaching your home. According to the Department of Energy, if the shrubs or trees shade your AC, you could boost its efficiency by up to 10%.

Protect Your Windows

Mesh-like window screens, or solar screens, intercept up to 70% of solar energy before it gets into your home. According to the Department of Energy, window screens can be particularly effective, especially if installed on west and east facing windows.

Another effective option is the window film. Window films are transparent, metalized sheets that effectively reflect heat even before it is transmitted through glass.

However, for window films to work, windows must remain shut. Solar screens, on the other hand, do double-duty – and that’s keeping insects and heat out even when the windows are open.

Raise Your Thermostat When You Are Away

Lower your AC’s thermostat setting to about 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you are at home. However, consider setting the thermostat at a higher temperature during the night or when you are not at home. According to the United States Department of Energy, increasing your AC’s temperature when away or during the night could help you save between 5%-15% on air conditioning bills.

Use a Fan

The importance of using fans is to ensure that air is effectively circulated inside your home. If possible, consider locating your fans on your home’s upper level and leave windows in the lower level open. If you live in a one-story apartment or house, the Department of Energy suggests that you have all windows near the fan closed and leave those in rooms that aren’t near the fan open.

Do Not Use the Stove

You can effectively reduce indoor heat by minimizing stove usage during summertime. Instead, consider eating cool salads or using the microwave. If you really have to boil pasta for the next day’s potluck, then do this in the evening. And again, if you really have to cook, then consider turning on the kitchen exhaust. Also, after taking a hot shower, consider turning on your bathroom’s exhaust fan.

Replace Your Air Conditioning System

Replacing your older AC with a newer model could help cut energy costs by up to 50%. When thinking of replacing your AC, it is advisable that you look for, and get a high-energy efficiency AC. The higher the air conditioner’s EER rating, the better.

Reduce Your AC’s Speed

Set your air conditioner’s fan speed on high, except on extremely humid days. On such days, have it run at a much lower speed. This is because when air moves slowly through an AC, it is able to remove moisture from the air more effectively, improving the atmosphere around your home.

Information On Different Types of Air Conditioners

Today’s air conditioners are quieter, energy-efficient, easy to install and maintain compared to the units manufactured a few years ago This article outlines the main types of air conditioners on the market with their pros and cons.

1. Window Mounted: This is the most common type of air conditioner that temporarily slides into double-hung window openings. You have the option to buy a cool-only unit or a cooling and heating unit if you live in a cold area.

Pros: These units work with the existing electrical wiring in your home. They are low cost and easy to install at the same time.

Cons: These units are designed for double-hung windows. Anyone living in the North needs to remove the unit at the end of the season.

Price: A unit that cools a 100-square-foot room will cost less than $200. A unit that cools up to a 500-square-foot room will cost you $400 while a 700- to 900-square-foot room cooling unit will cost $800.

2. Wall-Mounted: These units are permanently mounted on a wall through a metal sleeve. The metal sleeve is inserted through the wall where the AC chassis will be slid from inside. These units are also available as cooling-only or cooling/heating varieties.

Pros: These units fit more securely compared to window units and are aesthetically appealing. There is no storage necessary and is easy to replace and repair. Even you have one window in your room; a wall-mounted unit will let the sunlight into your room.

Cons: Installation can become costly since you need to cut an opening through the outside wall. On the other hand, larger units may require the installation of a dedicated 220-volt line. Also, you will have to purchase the exterior metal sleeve separately most of the time which will cost you between $50-100.

Price: A unit that can cool a 400-700 square-foot room will cost $400. You may have to spend $700 for a unit that can heat/cool a 1000 square-foot room.

3. Window/Wall-Mounted: This is another versatile unit that is temporarily installed in a window or mounted on a wall permanently.

Pros: This is an ideal option if you plan to buy an AC for a rental apartment window and later install it on a home wall.

Cons: These units come without the window installation kits such as the frame, nuts, and bolts required. You may require a dedicated 220-volt circuit depending on the amperage or plug type.

Prices: These units cost the same as wall-mounted units.

4. Portable: This is a mobile air conditioner that operates on wheels. It can be rolled from one place to another and includes a tube to exhaust the heat out of a window or an opening in the wall.

Pros: This unit is quite easy to store at the end of the hot season.

Cons: The prices are on the higher end compared to window units. It takes up your floor space, and the tube needs to be installed each time the unit is moved.

Prices: A unit that cools a 150 to a 300-square-foot room will cost $700. It may cost you $1,000 for a unit that cools a 500-square-foot room.

What You Should Know When Choosing the Best HVAC System

HVAC systems have great impact on the quality of life that one has, and that is why it is relatively important to know what makes the best HVAC system.


Here are the guidelines that will allow you to get the best heating and cooling system.

Find the right furnace or heating equipment. A new furnace is always worth considering whether you already have an electric or a gas furnace.

For gas furnaces, it works by burning propane, natural gas or other fuel in the combustion chamber of the indoor unit to create heat. The air handler in the unit will draw air to the heat exchanger. It will then transfer the flame’s heat to the air. The air that’s heated will then be blown to your rooms through the ducts. Combustion fumes produced by the burned fuel will be exhausted by a flue pipe.

The rating for the efficiency of a fuel-burning furnace is by the AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency. This rating indicates the amount of fuel that is being burned to provide heat compared to the amount that’s lost in the exhaust fumes. This means that a furnace with a higher AFUE is more efficient.

Old furnaces have AFUEs of 56% while the most efficient models today have AFUE of 98.5%. The improvement in the efficiency of the air handler was the cause of most of the change.

In choosing an HVAC system, you will need to know the 3 types of air handlers.

Single-stage: the older furnaces have motors with just one speed setting which is high. And having only one setting will keep the motor running at its maximum capacity whether you need a lot or just little heating. Since there isn’t much need for having the furnace work at its maximum, a large amount of energy goes to waste.

Two-stage: two-stage motors have 2 speed settings which are low and high. Having the motor run at low is enough to keep a stable temperature so this will save more energy. It will be set to high only when you have high demand for heat.

Modulating or variable-speed: this motor can run at any speed within the set range. This lets you choose the accurate speed that is most efficient for your heating demand. With this, you will enjoy a more stable temperature and optimal energy efficiency.

Remember the efficiency of a furnace is greatly affected by the correct sizing. Make sure to have the technician follow Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J to be able to determine the right furnace needed for your home’s cooling and heating load.

Look for the efficient and high-performance HVAC system. To be able to determine which system is most efficient, it’s important that you understand the process of how the unit works. Air conditioners use a liquid called refrigerant to cool the room. This liquid is being circulated throughout the system. When the refrigerant passes through the evaporator coil, it will absorb heat and will remove moisture. The cooled and dehumidified air will then be blown through the ducts. The refrigerant that is now hot will be moved to the condenser coil which will remove the heat that is absorbed.

The efficiency of an HVAC system is rated by SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. This tells the amount of energy the system consumes compared to the amount of heat that it can remove. The higher the SEER value, the greater the efficiency. Upgrading a 10-year old unit to a recent model that has a higher SEER will reduce your bills by up to 20-40 percent.

In the south, the lowest SEER that is legally allowed is SEER 14; but SEER of 14.5 is required to meet the Energy Star standards while SEER 20 units aren’t common. A system with more than 16 SEER is preferable in our climate.
You can narrow your searches for an efficient unit if you look for certain features. Units with variable-speed scroll compressor are high-efficient systems. They are also quieter and they last longer. An evaporation coil that is all-aluminum is less prone to leaks and corrosion compared to a copper and steel evaporator coil.

When you choose a new system, there are more options than having a separate air conditioner and furnace. You can also have a heat pump which has refrigerant and works like an air conditioner for cooling. But it also has a reversing valve which allows the refrigerant to flow in a different direction, thus, heating your home by transferring the heat outside to your rooms.

Of all heating systems that are electric, a heat pump is the most efficient. Having a heat pump can reduce your bill by up to 30-40 percent if you use an electric resistance heating. It’s also safer than heating methods that include hot surfaces.

An air conditioner that is more than a decade old is due for replacement. And you might want to consider switching to heat pumps. You’ll have a model that’s highly efficient and can dehumidify better than an air conditioner.
If you don’t have a central ductwork, you can opt to a ductless heat pump which also includes an outdoor and an indoor unit. This will heat and cool your room without the need of having ducts.

The heat pump’s cooling efficiency is rated by SEER, too. However, the heating efficiency is rated by HSPF or heating seasonal performance factor. A heat pump should at least have an HSPF of 8.2 to meet the Energy Star standards.
Remember that forced-air systems’ efficiency is also affected by ducts. If you have a ductwork that is more efficient, then you can install a smaller and less expensive system.

A ductwork that is not in top condition can cause a number of problems so always make sure that it’s in best condition before you decide looking for a heat pump, an AC or a furnace.

In making sure that the ductwork doesn’t have any issues, you can start by checking the points where two ducts meet, where they join the registers, and where they join the air handler. They should all be tightly sealed with foil-backed tape or mastic. If they aren’t sealed tight or if they’re broke, then you’ll be losing 30% of the air that’s transported. It can even cause mold and moisture problems.

Ducts that are located in unconditioned spaces or the basement will need to be well insulated with fiberglass batts or duct-wrap insulation. This is to maintain the air’s temperature inside better. You can always seal and insulate the ducts yourself, but note a professional will ensure that optimal insulation and sealing material will be used for greatest efficiency.

While it’s not common to have dust and debris buildup in the ducts, it can reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system and may even damage the components. Know that it will also affect the quality of the air. If the ducts haven’t been cleaned for more than 5 years or if you have recently had renovations, it’s best to have the ductwork inspected before you purchase an HVAC system.

These are the things that you will need to keep in mind before you start purchasing an HVAC system Once you have had all of these checked, then there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to have the best HVAC system for your home.

Installation Guide for Air Conditioners

Ideally, air conditioning units should be installed by a professional to make sure that everything is correctly set up and all you need to do is enjoy a cool home on a hot summer day. However, if you are one of more adventurous type of homeowners who find it comfortable to do things on their own, you can actually get your cooling unit installed yourself. We’ve got some helpful tips and guide to help you on your DIY air conditioning unit installation

Now, first things first – installation of air conditioning unit requires time and making sure that you are following the instructions correctly. If you have that covered, here are some general guidelines you will be needing.


Step 1: Position the Indoor Unit

When dealing with indoor unit of the cooling system, the location of the unit is vital to its operation. Make sure that you select an area where there are no obstacles such as pipes, furniture, and others that may affect proper air circulation and of course be a hindrance to the installation process itself.

Step 2: Set Up the Outdoor Unit

Next, get the outdoor unit ready for set up. Just like the indoor unit, the location of the outdoor unit is also very important for it to properly and efficiently function. While outdoor units are made to stand all whatever weather you have, it is still important that you have the outdoor unit away from the sun’s rays. The large fans within the unit should not be facing the house. There also needs to be sufficient space around the unit. Also make sure that you have it laid on a flat and secure surface.

Step 3: Bend the Copper Pipe

At this point, you are probably aware of the need to bend copper pipes during the installation process of your air conditioning unit. You need to remember that using a pipe bender could possibly just crush the copper pipe in the unit as these are usually made of half-inch pipes. To bend the copper pipe, the first step is to expose the pipe by removing the insulation around it. When the pipe is exposed, carefully press the pipe with your thumb following a wide radius. When the bending of the copper pipe is completed, get the insulation back in place and using a waterproof tape, have the insulation piece secured.

Step 4: Install Water Drain Pipe

The water drain pipe for your indoor unit can be found at the end of the drip tray. Properly secure the drain pipe by attaching the rubber part at the hole on the other end of the tray. The water drain pipe should be positioned downward through the wall so that it properly drains whatever excess water resulting from the air conditioning process. Remember that cooling units can produce as much as 4 pints of water especially during hot and humid summer days.

Step 5: Connect Pipes

Air conditioner installation requires connecting the necessary pipes for the unit to properly work. To make the task easier to deal with, try adding a drop of oil on all the facings before connecting the pipes to the brass cones. Make sure the connection is tight enough using a wrench.

When all the pipes are connected, you will also need to get the pipes insulated especially on all the connecting parts. Check for leaks to ensure that the refrigerant doesn’t leak from the pipes.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the installation process and when everything is set up, get the unit started so you can enjoy a cooler home with your air conditioning unit.