CONSUMER FILE

7 steps to keeping your house cool without draining your budget

Jul 5, 2018, 6:30 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — When the temperatures go up, so do our power bills as we crank up the A/C to keep our homes cool. You could be making some mistakes that are driving up your power bill higher than it needs to be.

Here are ways to keep a lid on your budget, while keeping your A/C in good working condition.

KEEP THERMOSTAT AT ONE TEMPERATURE

Set your thermostat at one temperature and keep it there, even when you’re out for the day.

That’s the advice from Dan Dearden, who owns Just Right Air and has been in the HVAC business for over 40 years. Dearden says it takes a long time to cool a house down once it’s heated up.

“It may take just as much energy to cool it back down as it would have been to just leave it at the same temperature,” explained Dearden. “In our climate, it’s advisable to just leave it set at one temperature.”

Don’t put a lamp, TV or an appliance near your thermostat. It can sense the heat from those devices and keep the A/C running longer than necessary.

DON’T SET BELOW 70 DEGREES

Dearden says there’s no magic temperature that will work for every home.

But the higher you set the thermostat in the summer, the more energy you’ll save. Deardon recommends you not set it below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Air conditioners in our climate aren’t designed to go below 70,” Dearden said. “If you set it below 70 degrees, chances are, it’s going to freeze up and you’ll get no cooling.”

One of the biggest mistakes Dearden says people make with their A/C is thinking the colder they set the thermostat, the faster it will cool.

“The A/C only has one speed.” Dearden explained. “So the thermostat only knows to turn it on or off. Turning it way down won’t make it cool any faster. If you turn it way down, eventually it’s going to get so cold that it will freeze up.”

KEEP VENTS CLEAR

Make sure there isn’t a piece of furniture like a couch or bed on top of a floor vent.

HVAC specialist Dan Dearden checks an air filter.

“You’re going to be blowing the air out over the floor, your room is going to be very uncomfortable,” said Dearden. “So, make sure the registers can blow that air up into the room.”

Be sure the return vent isn’t blocked by furniture, either.

LEAVE MAIN FLOOR VENTS OPEN

It seems natural to close vents in unoccupied rooms but if they’re on the main floor, leave them open.

“It’s called a central air system because it’s designed to cool the whole house,” remarked Dearden. “If you start closing off vents, it actually is going to cause the system more stress and not save you any money.”

You should, however, close the vents in unoccupied basement rooms.

“When we design the system, it’s designed to cool the upstairs. So shutting off all the vents in the basement is a good thing.” said Dearden.

CHANGE THE A/C FILTER

Your furnace filter is also your A/C filter and it has to be replaced regularly. Dirty filters force A/C units to work harder.

“As it gets dirtier and dirtier, it gets more and more restrictive,” explained Dearden. “You can cause some real energy problems if you don’t change your filter on a regular basis.”

KEEP OUTDOOR UNIT CLEAR

“The outdoor condenser should really be about 12 inches away from the house,” said Dearden.

Dearden warns homeowners not to install their condenser under a deck or patio.

“As hard as it’s blowing out, the condenser is sucking air in. If there’s a deck up there that air will be sucked right back in. So, the A/C will work twice as hard as it has to,” explained Dearden.

USE CEILING FANS ONLY WHEN THERE’S SOMEONE IN THE ROOM

As for ceiling fans, Dearden says they do not cool rooms.

“The fan is just circulating air, but it’s driven by a motor,” Dearden said. “That motor is producing heat.”

Fans, however, do cool people in the room.

“The air blowing across your skin makes you feel nice and cool, so you can stay cooler at a warmer temperature,” Dearden explained. “But when you’re not in the room shut it off. All you’re doing is wasting electricity and heating the room.”

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7 steps to keeping your house cool without draining your budget