Air Conditioning: Use & Care

Use & Care


You can maximize savings on cooling by maintaining your AC system regularly and following these usage guidelines:2  

Seal AC Ducts:

Having your heating and cooling ducts tested and sealed by a qualified contractor can help you save up to $195 on annual cooling and heating costs.3 Ordinary duct tape is not recommended; instead use mastics (sealants), sheet metal screws, or metal and plastic bands.4

Raise the Thermostat:

Turn your air conditioner off or your thermostat up when you’re not home. If you raise the thermostat 10ºF - 15 ºF on days when you’re out you may be able to save up to  5% - 15% of your energy bills.5

Install a Programmable Thermostat:

Programmable thermostats let you select appropriate times to cool your home. Set your thermostat at 78°F or higher when the AC is in use. For every degree you set your air conditioner thermostat cooler than 78°F, your energy use increases by 8%.6

Insulate & Weatherize:

Adequate insulation and weatherization may allow you to raise the temperature setting of your thermostat and still remain comfortably cool.
 

Check & Change Filters:

Change the disposable filters or clean the permanent filters on your AC unit on a monthly basis.

Install Your Room AC in the Shade:

Room air conditioners tend to work best when kept out of direct sunlight. If possible install units on the north facing side of your home, or, if you install on the west or south facing sides, use shade trees and other passive cooling measures to keep the unit out of direct sunlight.

Keep Your Compressor Cool & Clean:

If possible put the compressor (the part that dumps waste heat outside) in a cool, shaded place. In addition, make sure to clean weeds and debris away from the unit, and make sure to keep the coils on the back of the unit clean.

Get Annual Inspections: 

Have a licensed heating and cooling professional conduct a thorough cooling system inspection and cleaning once a year. A central AC tune-up could save you up to $100 or more on summer cooling costs.

Avoid Peak Hours: 

Turn off or cycle your central AC during peak daytime hours, when electricity is most expensive. Contact your utility provider about demand response or direct load control program options.

Content in part adapted with permission from Rocky Mountain Institute’s Home Energy Briefs.

Overview

If you’re thinking about making efficiency improvements, the Air Conditioning Overview is a great place to get acquainted with the basics and your options, before you buy or install a cooling system in your home. Return to Heating and Cooling.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Air Conditioning Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best materials for your home, needs and budget.

1Yardi, Ramola, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #3 Space Cooling. Snowmass: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217 (p. 8).
2Yardi, Ramola, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #3 Space Cooling. Snowmass: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217 (p. 6-7).
3Ibid.
4Ibid.
5Ibid.
6Yardi, Ramola, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #3 Space Cooling. Snowmass: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217 (p. 6).

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.