Air Conditioner Efficiency: Everything You Should Know

Air Conditioner Efficiency: Everything You Should Know
Are you looking for a way to cut your energy bill without sacrificing comfortable summers? This nifty guide will teach you how to increase the efficiency of your air conditioner so you can start saving energy through air conditioner efficiency ASAP. Read on to learn how.

Can You Use Portable Air Conditioners Full-Time?

You might be wondering what the big deal is. Aren't portable and permanent air conditioners technically the same thing? No. No, they are not. Let us explain. Portable units have significantly less air conditioner efficiency and are less effective than any permanent HVAC system, including central air conditioning, ductless mini-splits and even window units. While they're great for fast, cheap cooling, they should never be used as a replacement for a conventional system. For one thing, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is only now implementing basic energy efficiency standards for portable ACs. These standards, which go into effect in November of 2023, will specifically impact newly manufactured portable ACs.

When Should You Use Portable Air Conditioners?

Knowing when to use portable air conditioners can help you get started with improving your home's energy efficiency. Here are some examples of situations where a portable unit comes in handy:
  • Breakdowns: Portable air conditioners are great substitutes when your permanent AC is out of commission.
  • Home additions: When you're waiting on HVAC installation in new rooms, you can use a portable air conditioner to keep things cool.
  • House parties: The more people you have in your home, the hotter it will be. A portable AC unit can help keep your guests comfortable while they're living it up.
  • Restrictive HOAs: Some housing communities and apartment buildings restrict the types of AC units you can use. If this is the case, occasional portable air conditioner usage can help you keep your space cool.
Otherwise, it's best to stick with a central AC unit.

How Can You Improve Air Conditioner Efficiency?

While portable units are great for certain circumstances, it's far more efficient to maintain a permanent air conditioner. Here's how to improve air conditioner efficiency in your home.

Regularly Clean Your Vents and Filters

Dust restricts your ducts and decreases airflow throughout your home. Dusting or vacuuming your AC vents at least once per month will help remove most of the blockage. Still, you'll want to have your air ducts professionally cleaned every two to three years to keep your system at maximum efficiency. Additionally, be sure to change the air filters once every three months or so to improve the air quality in your home. You can usually find replacement air filters online for a reasonable price, or you can check your local home improvement store.

Unclog Your Drain Line

The drain line by your air conditioner's indoor cooling coil can be prone to clogging, which can lead to water damage as well as reduced efficiency. You can do this yourself using one of the following methods:
  • Flushing: This simple method works for most drain line clogs. Simply pour one cup of white vinegar or bleach down the drain line to dissolve the blockage, then flush it out with a gallon of clean water.
  • Vacuum: A wet/dry vacuum is often strong enough to suck out the jam from your drain line.
  • Electric snake: An electric snake can pull debris out of your drain quickly and easily. You should be able to rent or buy one of these from your local hardware store.

Keep Windows and Doors Closed

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom scolded you for leaving your windows open in the middle of summer? She was right to tell you off — leaving windows or doors open allows the cool, conditioned air to escape. And then your AC has to work twice as hard to keep the house comfortable. Don't be the reason your mom sighs in exasperation. Close all windows and doors and do your best to get rid of any drafts when the AC is on.

Cover Your Windows

Allowing unnecessary sunlight into your home might brighten up the space, but it also makes your AC unit work even harder to keep the place cool. If you don't have any curtains or blinds on your windows, it's time to get some. The DOE recommends energy-efficient interior cellular shades, which trap cool air in their honeycomb-shaped cells. These shades can reduce unwanted heat by up to 60% by keeping the conditioned air in and hot air out. For best results, you can combine energy-efficient interior window coverings with exterior treatments like insulating films or shutters.

Get Rid of Drafts and Air Leaks

Gaps in windows, under doors and in the attic can let cool air escape even when everything is closed, which can significantly bump up your energy costs by making your AC work harder. Once you know where a leak is, you have several options for closing it up:
  • Apply weatherstripping or caulk to seal small gaps.
  • Install storm doors or storm windows.
  • Use foam board or expanding foam to block larger holes.
  • Close up the chimney when not in use.
  • Seal holes in the wall, such as electrical outlets and light switches.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance

As a general rule, you should schedule routine maintenance checks at least once per year with a qualified HVAC professional. They can help you improve your unit's performance and perform simple tune-ups to keep it in tip-top condition. Plus, regular maintenance can help you resolve minor issues before they become major problems, extending your unit's life, maintaining your air conditioner efficiency, and saving you money over time.

Install Your Thermostat in the Right Place

You might think it doesn't matter where you install your thermostat, but you'd be wrong. One of the most common air conditioning mistakes we see people make is placing their thermostats either in direct sunlight or near heat-producing appliances. Here's why. The extra heat from the sun, your oven or a hot lamp will affect your thermostat's ability to correctly gauge the temperature of the room, and it will use more energy to compensate. Instead, make sure your thermostat is on an interior wall where it won't be exposed to direct sunlight. This plus all the previous tips will help increase your air conditioner efficiency.

Improve Your HVAC System With Ingram's Water & Air

If you need a newer, more efficient HVAC system, you can trust Ingram's Water & Air to deliver. When you purchase equipment from us, we automatically match you with any local energy efficiency rebates or incentives that you might be eligible for, so you'll get the most out of your purchase. We also carry a wide range of replacement parts and accessories to keep your unit running for years to come.
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