spring energy connecticutWarmer weather gets us thinking about being outside and enjoying the sunshine. But, we also wonder how high our electricity bills will be when we’re cooling off inside. If you’re looking to cut your cooling costs without sacrificing your family’s comfort and summer fun, check out these 11 energy savers tips.

1. Use Your Ceiling Fans

Did you know that the average ceiling fan, run at its highest speed, consumes about 75 watts of power? If you run your ceiling fan for 24 hours a day, and the price per kWh is $0.10, using a ceiling fan would cost you $0.53 per day.

Now, compare that to an air conditioner that consumes roughly 2,000 watts of power. If you run your ceiling fan for 24 hours a day, and the price per kWh is $0.10, using the air conditioner would cost you $4.80 per day.

This simple exercise allows you to quickly see how using the fans in your home can translate to reduced energy bills.

Furthermore, The U.S. Department of Energy, says that cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat by roughly four degrees, which can further reduce your energy bill by up to 30 percent.  

2. Update Your Windows

During the spring and summer, direct sunlight can significantly warm up your home. One energy savers tip is to prevent UV rays from bringing unwanted heat into your house, as a way to reduce your energy bill.

According to ENERGY STAR, a typical home will save $126–$465 a year when replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows, and $27–$111 a year when replacing double-pane windows.

Bonus energy savers tip: Invest in heavily-insulated drapes to block even more heat from entering your home as an additional way to save energy in the spring.

3. Check Seals Around Your Windows and Doors

Letting hot air into your home — or cold air out — due to gaps around your windows and doors might be costing you more than you expect. According to The U.S. Department of Energy, sealing any leaks or drafts in your home can save you between five and 30 percent per year in energy costs.

Sealing leaks on your doors and windows is a simple process, too. All you need is caulk or weatherstripping materials and you can block unwanted airflow in a snap.

4. Manage Airflow

Homeowners can manage the airflow in a number of ways. The first is by using exhaust fans strategically. Exhaust fans pull the warm air from your home and send it outside, on particularly warm days, turn your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans on to force warm air outside to decrease the use of your AC. 

You can also rearrange your furniture away from your heating and cooling systems baseboard or registers. By moving obstacles away from your home’s airflow, you can maximize circulation, heating and cooling more of your home. 

Bonus energy savers tip: If a cool day is in the forecast, try to maximize heat from your oven or stovetop. When you finish baking, leave the oven door open so the warm air can circulate through your home.

5. Check Your Refrigerator Gasket

You might be surprised to learn that a refrigerator accounts for almost 14 percent of the average homeowner’s electrical bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

One energy savers tip is to ensure all of your refrigerator’s components are running well, so it doesn’t take up more energy than normal. That’s why you should inspect your refrigerator gaskets often.

Your refrigerator gasket is the rubber seal around the inside of the door and is responsible for keeping the cold air in. If this gasket breaks or cracks, it can allow the warm air inside of your home to enter your refrigerator, causing the compressor to work harder to maintain a cool temperature, and increasing your electricity bill.

6. Upgrade Your Lighting

If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you should know that only 10 percent of the electricity they consume is used for light, the rest is turned into heat. Not only does that mean you’re paying more for less light, but you’re also unknowingly warming your home.

Opt for more efficient lights like LEDs, which according to the Department of Energy use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

And remember to turn the lights off when you’re not in the room. For a 40 watts lightbulb that’s on for one hour, you can expect to consume 0.04 kWh. If your electricity rate is $0.10 per kWh, every hour means $0.04 out of your pocket — at 24 hours a day, that’s nearly a dollar a day!  

Bonus energy savers tip: For even more savings, harness the power of the sun! If it looks like a chilly night is in the forecast, leave curtains open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm the room and close them at night to keep the heat in so you can rely less on your heating system.

7.  Get Your AC Tuned-up by a Licensed Professional

If you get your air conditioner tuned up in the spring, you’ll prevent yourself from potential meltdowns in the summer. It’s important to call in a professional to tune-up your AC so you and your family can be safe!

Air conditioners are high voltage, and without proper knowledge and equipment, it can be dangerous to take a tune-up on as a DIY project.

During a tune-up, a licensed professional comprehensively look for any AC system failures:

It’s especially important to call in the pros if you suspect a leak in your equipment. It’s very difficult to inspect an AC for leaks without training and expertise in the field. But, leaks decrease the efficiency of your system and cause potential health issues for you and your family. 

Change your air filters yourself! 

Remember to check your furnace and AC filter at the start of the season, and change it out if needed. A clean filter will maximize your system’s output. 

Need help changing your filter? 

Watch this video that demonstrates how you can easily make the tune-up on your own: 

Pro Tip: Warm weather is right around the corner! Remember you can get your AC system service any time the temperature outside of over 65 degrees. During an AC tune-up, a technician can perform this service with limited access to your home, so rest assured your family, and our staff will be protected during the service! 

8. Check Your Water Heater

First things first, check the thermostat on your current water heater. Many manufacturers automatically set water heater thermostats to 140°F,  though 120°F will work for your home just fine.

Adjusting the thermostat to 120° will help you avoid scalding temperatures when you turn on your hot water, and will also cut energy costs. Even when you’re not actively using your water heater, reducing the temperature will save you $36 to $61, annually, in standby heat savings. And, adjusting the heat down will save you more than $400 per year, during active water heater use, according to The U.S. Department of Energy.

Bonus energy savers tip: Each year, drain a quarter of your water heater tank to remove sediment and debris to ensure your water heater is working as efficiently as possible all year round.

9. Conserve Hot Water

While you’re at it, don’t just focus on the cleanliness of your hot water heater, also pay attention to how frequently you use it.  Minimizing the amount of hot water you use throughout the year can save you on your energy bills. Remember to:

10. Know Your AC Thermostat 

Remember, you are in control of how frequently your system runs! Complete control over your thermostat is especially useful during the spring when we experience colder nights and warmer days. That’s because constantly adjusting the temperature inside your home can be a costly mistake: The cooler you keep your home with an air conditioner, the higher your electric bills will be.  

According to the U.S Department of Energy, 78° F is the most efficient temperature to run your AC when you’re home. While you’re away, it’s best to keep the thermostat at 85°. Adjusting your temperature down to just 72° can increase your energy bills by roughly 47 percent

Read our full article on maximizing the lifespan of your AC unit, while protecting your energy bill.

11. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you heaps of money this spring, but that’s not the only upgrade you can make. There are plenty of other appliances you can upgrade to increase your savings even more.

By equipping your home with ENERGY STAR refrigerators, dishwashers, and heating and cooling systems you can reduce your home energy use by up to 50 percent.

rusty a/c unit connecticutWe’re often asked how long an air conditioner’s lifespan is, though the answer isn’t cut and dry. According to the Energy Department, the average AC unit will last roughly 10-15 years. However, the actual longevity of your AC unit will depend on several factors only you can determine.

What factors play a role in your AC’s lifespan?

For a look at the possible lifespan of your AC, consider your personal habits.

Usage

Wear and tear will play a role in how long your AC unit lasts. While the average homeowner would need to replace their unit every 10-15 years, someone who rarely uses their AC might be able to wait for 20 or more years before replacing their AC.

Tip: To improve your AC lifespan?, reduce your usage. Remember to turn it off when you’re away, or resist the temptation to turn it on during moderately warm days.

Humidity

Humidity will cause your AC unit to work on overdrive even if it’s not cooling your home. The humidity will trick your AC unit into keeping the fan on because the coils inside will do their part to absorb the moisture from the air. This extra strain on your coils and fan can decrease your AC’s lifespan.

Tip: You can take steps to minimize humidity in your home by purchasing a dehumidifier, or growing plants that reduce moisture in the air like Boston Ferns, Palms, or Cacti.

Temperature

The cooler you run your AC, the more strain you are putting on it, especially if you forget to give it a break. Not only does frigid air force your unit to work harder, but it also increases your bills. According to the Department of Energy, 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the most efficient temperature to run your AC when you’re home, and you should increase it to 85 degrees or off while you’re away. Adversely, adjusting your thermostat to just 72 degrees can increase your bills by roughly 47 percent.

Tip: By nudging the temperature up just a couple of degrees, you will be putting less strain on your AC, and effectively increase its lifespan while decreasing your bills.

Cleanliness

Debris on coils, ductwork, or other components of an AC can cause it to malfunction due to a lack of airflow. Specifically, with an interruption of proper airflow, your AC can freeze up. And, if this happens, and isn’t caught early enough, the frozen unit can cause water damage your AC, reducing its lifespan.

Tip: Every two-three months, give your AC a routine checkup. Change the air filters, wipe debris from the coils, and check your ductwork to make sure nothing has collapsed or loosened. A clean unit makes for a longer-lasting system.

Preventative Maintenance

The better you take care of your AC unit, the longer it will last. Scheduling preventative maintenance with your local HVAC company can help extend your AC’s lifespan, and ensure it’s operating at maximum efficiency, which can also help reduce your monthly bills.

Tip: Industry experts agree that a bi-annual checkup — performed by professionals — for your AC unit is best practice to maintaining a long-lasting system.

What are the aging signs of an old AC unit?

Higher Energy Bills

The older your AC unit gets, the less efficient it can become. In fact, there is a measurement to help you gauge your lost efficiency called The SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio). Each year that passes, your AC unit can lose up to 9 percent efficiency. And,  every decrease in percentage points means an increase in your energy bills.

Strange Smells

Without proper maintenance to your AC unit over the years, it’s possible for mold and mildew to grow in the ductwork. This is harmful to the air you breathe, and also indicates that your AC is weathering damage. A burnt scent indicates issues with your wire insulation — another indication that your AC unit is aging. If you can smell your AC, then it isn’t operating well; start by giving it a good clean. If the smells don’t go away, consult an expert to see if your AC needs an update or an upgrade.

Increased Noise

When your AC unit makes noises like a squeal, grind, or grating noise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize something is not right. These noises may indicate a simple fix, but can often require more technical maintenance. If your AC unit is making strange noises that you’d can’t quickly identify, it’s time to call in an expert.

Leaks

Leaks from your air conditioner come from two primary sources: refrigerant leaks and leaks from the condensate line. Both instances are caused by faulty components in your AC unit where parts are either broken or blocked, which can be a sign of aging. It can also be a sign of danger. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful to you and your family due to the toxicity of freon in the refrigerant. And, in both scenarios, without proper detection of a leak, mold can grow in the leakage, which is harmful to breathe. Ongoing maintenance can help with prevention and early detection of leaks. Additionally, if you spot a leak, call an expert to help you rectify the situation immediately.

How to decide when to replace your AC unit?

After diagnosing an issue with your AC unit, you may take steps to repair it yourself, or you might seek advice from an expert. Whichever route you choose, make sure to conduct a full inspection of the unit.

A comprehensive AC inspection includes:

After a thorough inspection, you and your technician should have a full picture of the severity of your AC issues. This is how you can decide if it’s more cost-effective to repair or replace your system.

Luckily, technology has evolved in a way that makes our HVAC equipment last longer than ever, and perform more efficiently than equipment of the past. In fact, the most efficient, modern air conditioners use 20 to 40 percent less energy than models made in the early 2000s. So, when it comes time to replace your outdated technology, it can actually be an opportunity for cost-savings for you as a homeowner.

Learn more about energy efficient air conditioning equipment in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, CT.