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Everyone likes to save a little bit of money here and there, right?  Well, unless you are interested in living without AC, turning your air conditioner off when you’re out is not a way to save money.  In fact, it may be costing you more! For years people have been under the false impression that turning your AC off when you are out and about will save them money.  Today I’m going to explain to you why turning your AC off doesn’t achieve this goal. Then We’ll discuss some alternative methods that are better for your HVAC system and your pocketbook.

More Efficient… But…

You may have heard that air conditioners are more efficient when they are working their hardest.  This is true, but there is a caveat. First, I’ll explain why this is true. In the HVAC industry there is a term known as Delta T (ΔT).  Where Delta is the Greek nomenclature for the difference between two points and the T stands for temperature. The Delta T is calculated by subtracting the temperature of the HVAC output from the input temperature.  For instance, if it was 90° in your house and your AC was putting out 65° air, your Delta T would be 25°. The greater this differential is, the easier it is for an air conditioner to cool the air. This is because the large difference in temperature makes it easier to transfer the heat into the cold refrigerant.

Even with a system running at an increased efficiency because of a high delta, it is still going to have to run continuously for quite a while to cool off a whole house.  This is the step that most people forget about when trying to save money. In most cases, it actually consumes less energy to maintain a reasonable temperature than to achieve it.  This is especially true in buildings that are well insulated.

Even if you are not turning your AC off, there are still methods you can use to reduce your electric bill.

Close ‘em Tight

The first step you should take to reduce air conditioning costs is to reduce the amount of radiant heat coming into the house.  Ensure that any blinds or curtains you have are closed to help keep the sunlight from heating the place up faster. Due to the greenhouse effect, this is most important on windows that face south.  Southern facing windows get sunlight nearly all day long in the northern hemisphere and will create heat all day. Even if your windows aren’t facing south, it is still a good idea to close your blinds or curtains.  Some people even opt to get tinting installed on their windows to further reduce heat buildup in their homes.

Keep it Clean

One of the most important tasks a homeowner can take to maintain their AC is to keep the filters clean.  Clean filters help keep debris from entering the system and building up on the coil and fan blades. It also reduces drag which in turn, increases air flow.  This is important because it enables the HVAC unit to remove humidity properly. It also ensures heat exchange is taking place at the proper rate. AKA, the system is operating as efficiently as possible.  Check out our previous article if you are unsure about what type of filter to use.

Turn it up

Another option is to just turn your thermostat up instead.  The U.S. Energy Department states that increasing or decreasing your temperature settings by 7 to 10 degrees can save up to 10 percent off your yearly energy usage.  This technique is dependent on electricity prices.  If your area has peak usage rates, you will need to determine if it is beneficial.  Sometimes it will just be best to set your thermostat up or down a few degrees and leave it.  They also recommend thermostat adjustments if you are going on vacation for more than three days.  In the winter, set your thermostat at about 50° and in the summer set it at somewhere near 85°. These changes provide your unit with kind of a happy medium.  It increases the Delta T so the system can run more efficiently. It also makes it not have to work so hard when it comes time to resume normal comfort levels.

Embrace Technology

Embrace HVAC Technology

One really good way to apply these mentioned temperature settings is with a programmable thermostat.  These types of thermostats will allow you to program what temperature you want, when you want it. In contrast, traditional thermostats only allow you to set your system at one setting and if you want to change it, you have to physically go to it and change the temperature settings.  Even the most basic programmable thermostats allow you to pre-program your desired settings. Wi-Fi thermostats are also available. This means you can change your home temperature settings from anywhere that has internet access.

Summing it up

To cover everything in a quick rundown, stop turning your AC off!  Yeah AC units may be more efficient when they are working harder, but they have to run longer to cool you down.  What you should be doing to cut costs is reduce heat sources, keep your system clean, and utilize technological advances.  If you are interested in getting a programmable thermostat or need any other HVAC issues addressed in Panama City or the surrounding areas, contact Beahan’s Heat and Air via our contact page or give us a call at 850-866-2273.

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