Do This, Not That: Air Conditioning Cost Saving Myths vs. Reality
With summer more or less in full swing now here in Northern Colorado, we’ve been hearing more and more commonly-repeated air conditioning tips intended to save home and business owners money—but do they really work?
Some do, some don’t, and some sound like a reasonable idea… until you examine them a little closer and realize that the advice might actually cost you more in energy expenses (even if the advice-giver is entirely well-meaning).
In today’s post on the Best Buy Heating and Air blog, we’re going to take a closer look at some of these common cost-saving proposals and break down which ones are real and which ones aren’t.
Let’s begin with a pretty common one:
Should You Turn Off Your Air Conditioning When You’re Not Home?
The common advice goes that you should always turn off your air conditioning when you leave your house. But is this true?
In reality, the truth is a bit more nuanced, so it depends. Are you leaving for a couple of hours? Heading off to work? Or are you going on vacation for a few days?
It requires more energy to cool off (or re-cool off) a warm home than one which has already had its temperature regulated. Therefore, if you’re only leaving for a short while, turning off your A/C system entirely can actually use more energy when you return to a warm house and want to cool it back down—and that costs more money.
The most efficient thing you can do for short outings is to simply turn your temperature setting up by a few degrees, perhaps 3–5°F. Your air conditioning won’t turn on as much as it would if you were at home, but it will maintain a temperature that’s much easier to bring back down to more comfortable levels when you get back.
If you’re going on an extended outing, say a week or more at a time, completely switching off the system is usually fine and will of course be more energy efficient than leaving it on. However, keep in mind that humidity will have an easier time building in the home, and cooling appliances like refrigerators will have to work much, much harder if you don’t turn them completely off, too.
The Real Benefit of Running Your Ceiling Fans
A lot of people think that ceiling fans will keep your home cooler. So, if you’re away for an extended outing as described for above, the advice goes that you should leave your A/C unit off but your ceiling fans on.
This isn’t a great idea—ceiling fans cool you down, but not the home. All a fan can do is move air around, so if that air is already hot, the fan is just blowing around hot air. They can, of course, help people regulate our own temperature, because the moving air helps to evaporate perspiration and thus cools us down. But that’s just for us, not the surrounding area. To put it more succinctly, ceiling fans do not regulate ambient temperature, so there’s no good reason to leave them on unless you’re enjoying the air flow yourself.
Myth: A Lower Setting on The Thermostat Speeds Up How Fast You Can Cool Down
Imagine you’ve just returned home from a trip, and your home is hot. Really hot. The natural inclination is to head over to the thermostat and crank it way down, much more than you usually would.
However, the temperature setting, no matter how low it is, doesn’t speed up the rate at which cool air is introduced into the home or business—all it affects is how long the air conditioning system runs for until the device says, “Hey, all right, we reached our goal temperature, so I’ll stop now.”
Does it Matter Where a New Air Conditioner is Installed?
Yes! If a vendor ever tells you that it doesn’t matter, run. Far.
It matters where your air conditioning unit is installed because, if possible, you want it in an at least somewhat shaded area. This is why air conditioning units are usually installed on the cooler side of your house in an area that doesn’t get as much direct sunlight as other parts might. Constant sunlight outside will reduce exchange efficiency.
Stay Cool and Improve Energy Efficiency This Summer With Help From the Pros at Best Buy Heating and Air
For more great tips on saving money and staying cool this summer, be sure to check out our blog post 7 Easy Ways Northern Colorado Residents Are Lowering Their Air Conditioning Bill This Summer.