As anyone who has seen their electric bill skyrocket in the summer will know, your air conditioner power consumption can be a big, unpredictable cost. To try and understand your costs, you can start with your AC unit’s power rating (check the label on the condensing unit), which will tell you how much power it uses under perfect conditions. In real life, conditions are rarely as consistent as that.
There are many factors that affect how efficient your AC is and how much power it uses, including age and condition of the unit, the layout of your space, the design of the air ducts, how air-tight the space is, and of course the weather. That’s why calculating your expenses is never an exact science.
If your goal is to reduce your air conditioner power consumption, that’s actually easier than measuring it! Here are 7 strategies.
1. Turn it up one degree
Could you tell the difference between a room set at 71 degrees and a room set at 72 degrees? Neither could most people. So if you’re trying to reduce energy use, try setting your thermostat just one degree above where it would normally be. It will help your AC run less frequently and use less power.
This practice will get you in the habit of being conscious of what your thermostat is set to. Air conditioner power consumption increases a lot for every degree above the temperature outside, so these small changes will add up in the long run.
Make sure everyone in your workplace knows about your energy efficiency goals. Start by having a meeting to explain the steps you’ll be taking and how everyone can contribute. You won’t be able to reduce air conditioner power consumption if you’re the only one working towards it. Outline any changes (such as a standard office temperature) or simple steps everyone can participate in.
2. Use a smart thermostat and make up a schedule
To use your air conditioning efficiently, you need to make sure it’s running only when needed, and the temperature is set appropriately at all times.
Luckily, you don’t have to keep track of that yourself. With an automated or smart thermostat, it can be easy to reduce your air conditioner power consumption. Use a thermostat with a programmable schedule to set your AC to not cool when no one is in the space. Some thermostats can learn your schedule over time and program themselves. Smart thermostats even come with an app that lets you control the temperature remotely in case you forgot to set it. Many of these thermostats are designed with energy savings in mind, so they can help you get more details about your energy usage.
3. Keep ducts clean and airflow clear
Your AC will use less power if it’s not struggling against dirty vents and blocked airflow. Keeping the vents and ducts clean will help your air conditioner run more efficiently. Make sure your furniture and room layout does not block the vents as well.
4. Schedule regular maintenance visits
If you could see what AC technicians see when they come to service a neglected air conditioner, you’d understand why regular maintenance is so important. Cleaning the components, fixing electrical connections, and replacing worn parts make your system run more efficiently and use less electricity. In fact, studies show that air conditioning maintenance helps your unit to maintain up to 95% of its original efficiency.
5. Change air filters
You might not think that a blocked air conditioner filter might cause your air conditioner power consumption to spike. But a clogged filter is like a clogged sink, something might be getting through, but it’ll work much more smoothly if it’s clear. Filters can become blocked up with dust, and if they’re full past the limit, dust will gather on fans and motors and slow your system down, causing it to run longer and use more power.
Your AC technician will change your filters as needed during regular maintenance visits. However, depending on your system usage you might need to change them more frequently.
6. Insulate your space to keep cool air in
You won’t be getting the most out of your energy-efficient air conditioning if you let all that cool air get away. Insulating can also be a helpful step towards reducing air conditioner power consumption if you can’t yet replace your air conditioning unit. Your AC won’t have to work as hard to get the same temperature if you are diligent about sealing up leaky spots in your house. HVAC components such as pipes, ducts, and outlets can be some of the highest – priority spots for extra insulation.
7. Retrofit your AC unit
Did you know you can upgrade parts on an old AC unit to make it more energy efficient? Retrofitting can be a good option if you aren’t ready to upgrade to a newer model. There are many ways you can reduce your air conditioner power consumption without getting rid of your current AC, including adding more ventilation, condenser fan controls, or replacing the compressor.
Retrofitting may be a good option for you if your system is used a lot, uses a lot of power, and has been regularly maintained (so it’s still in good condition). Retrofitting is a good compromise to get you some of the benefits of a newer system without investing a large sum in a total replacement.