Air conditioning engineer reviewing air con unit

11 Steps to Boost Your AC’s Energy Efficiency

As energy consumption directly impacts both the environment and your energy bill, the importance of energy efficiency in air conditioning cannot be overstated. An efficient AC not only reduces energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions but also ensures a more cost-effective operation, to save energy and to save money in the long run.

However, achieving optimal efficiency in air conditioning systems isn’t just about purchasing a high-rated model; it involves regular maintenance and smart usage. That’s why we’ve compiled 11 practical steps that you can take to enhance the efficiency of your air conditioner system. From simple maintenance tips to smarter usage strategies, these steps are designed to ensure that your air conditioning system runs as efficiently as possible, providing maximum cooling while minimising energy consumption.

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bill, or a business seeking to improve your operational efficiency, these tips will help. You can also take a look at our services, including upgrading your system to a newer, more energy efficient model, and contact us on 01403 791307 or 07584 438322.

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How to be energy efficient with air conditioning

Whilst consulting a professional would be the most beneficial way to ensure your air conditioning system offers maximum energy efficiency, here are 11 useful energy saving and cost saving steps to consider:

1. Regular maintenance

One of the most crucial steps in ensuring the energy efficiency of your air conditioning system is regular professional maintenance. Like any complex machinery, an AC system requires periodic check-ups to operate at its best. Regular maintenance allows for:

  • Early detection of potential issues
  • Optimal performance
  • Prevention of inefficiencies
  • Extending the lifespan of your air conditioner
  • Cost savings

Regular maintenance by a professional can help identify and rectify potential problems before they escalate. Issues like refrigerant leaks or faulty wiring can significantly reduce efficiency and, if left unchecked, can lead to more serious damage. During a maintenance check, technicians can also clean and inspect various components of the AC system, such as the condenser coils, air filters, and ductwork. This not only ensures that your AC is running efficiently but also prevents minor issues from turning into major problems.

While regular maintenance involves some cost, it is far less expensive than major repairs or replacing the entire system prematurely due to neglect.

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2. Change or clean air filters

A simple yet often overlooked aspect of maintaining your air conditioning system’s efficiency is the regular changing or cleaning of air filters. This basic step is crucial in ensuring that your AC operates effectively and doesn’t consume more energy than necessary.

Over time, air filters accumulate dust, dirt, and other airborne particles. This build-up can significantly obstruct airflow, forcing the AC system to work harder to circulate air. Regularly changing or cleaning these filters prevents such blockages, ensuring smoother operation. Clean air filters are also essential for maintaining good indoor air quality. They trap pollutants and allergens, preventing them from circulating throughout your home or office.

Regular filter maintenance not only improves efficiency but also extends the overall lifespan of your AC unit. Clean filters minimise the risk of overheating and other mechanical problems caused by restricted airflow. Essentially, something as straightforward as changing or cleaning your AC’s air filters can have a significant impact on its efficiency and longevity.

Learn more about the lifespan of air conditioning units

3. Seal and insulate ducts

Proper sealing and insulation of AC ducts enhances overall energy efficiency and ensures consistent cooling throughout your space. Key benefits include the prevention of air leaks, which would make a system consume more energy to maintain the desired temperature setting, and a uniform temperature distribution, eliminating hot or cold spots and ensuring comfort.

After a thorough inspection of the ductwork for leaks, holes, and disconnections, these issues can be repaired using specialised sealing materials like mastic sealant or metal tape. While some minor ductwork issues can be a DIY project, professional assessment and repair are recommended for comprehensive ductwork maintenance. This ensures that all potential inefficiencies are identified and corrected.

4. Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats bring convenience, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness to your heating and cooling systems. Advantages include:

  • Customised temperature schedules
  • Consistent temperature management
  • Smart technology integration
  • Energy usage insights

By automating your temperature settings, programmable thermostats eliminate the inefficiencies of constant manual adjustments and ensure your AC only operates when needed. This not only leads to significant energy savings but also extends the life of your AC by reducing unnecessary wear and tear.

5. Optimise thermostat settings

Efficient use of your air conditioning system heavily relies on optimising thermostat settings for different seasons. The right settings not only conserve energy but also maintain a comfortable indoor environment. Whilst there may be typical settings depending on the season, it will depend on what makes you comfortable throughout the year. However, you should avoid drastic changes in thermostat settings that can cause your AC to work harder, using more energy. Instead, aim for gradual adjustments.

Speaking with a professional and using a programmable thermostat will allow you to be energy efficient and use your system in a way that fits in with your comfort and daily schedule.

6. Keep the AC unit clean and unobstructed

The outdoor unit of your AC, which houses the compressor and condenser coils, needs clear, unobstructed airflow to function effectively. Any blockage can restrict air intake and exhaust, forcing the unit to work harder to expel heat. This not only reduces efficiency but also increases wear and tear. Debris like leaves, dirt, or grass clippings can accumulate around the unit, potentially leading to overheating. Keeping the area around the unit clean ensures it dissipates heat properly, critical for efficient cooling.

Schedule periodic cleaning to remove any debris around the unit. This includes trimming any plants or shrubs that may impede airflow. Have a professional inspect the unit annually, especially before peak usage seasons. They can perform a more thorough cleaning and check for any issues that might affect performance, such as bent coil fins or blocked drain lines.

While it might be tempting to hide the external unit for aesthetic reasons, any form of covering can restrict airflow and reduce efficiency. Always keep the unit uncovered and in an open space.

7. Check and seal windows and doors

Airtight sealing can prevent air leaks and help maintain consistent temperatures. Gaps or leaks in windows and doors allow the cool air to escape, forcing your AC to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Properly sealed windows and doors help keep the indoor temperature consistent, reducing the frequency of AC cycling and thereby saving energy.

Tips for detecting and fixing leaks:

  • Visual inspection: Regularly inspect the seals around windows and doors. Look for visible signs of wear and tear, such as cracked or peeling caulk and weather stripping.
  • The hand test: On a windy day, hold your hand around the edges of windows and doors to feel for drafts. Moving air suggests a leak that needs sealing.
  • Use caulk and weather stripping: Small gaps can be fixed with caulk, while weather stripping is ideal for movable components like doors and window sashes. Ensure that the products you use are suitable for outdoor exposure.
  • Professional energy audit: Consider a professional energy audit for a comprehensive assessment of air leaks in your home. They can provide detailed insights and solutions for improving energy efficiency.

Sealing windows and doors is a cost-effective and relatively simple way to enhance the efficiency of your air conditioning system.

8. Upgrade to energy-efficient models

Upgrading your system to a modern energy-efficient model is one of the most effective ways to be more energy efficient. Doing so will reduce your energy bills as they use less electricity to produce the same cooling effect, and you’ll also benefit from advanced technology. Newer models often come with programmable thermostats, variable speed motors, and improved compressors, all contributing to enhanced efficiency and comfort. By consuming less power, energy-efficient AC models help reduce your carbon footprint, making them a more eco-friendly option.

If you’d like to upgrade, look for models with a high Energy Star rating, check the unit is correctly sized for your space, and check the SEER rating. You should also ensure your new air conditioning is installed by a professional, who should be able to advise on the best model for your needs.

In short, upgrading is a worthwhile investment and a proactive step towards a more sustainable and cost-effective approach to climate control.

9. Utilise window coverings and shading

By managing how much heat enters your home through the effective use of window coverings and shading, you can significantly reduce the cooling load on your air conditioning unit.

Window coverings such as blinds, shades, and curtains can substantially reduce the amount of heat that enters your home, particularly when closed during the hottest parts of the day, whereas light-coloured blinds and shades, especially those that are reflective, can bounce back sunlight, keeping rooms cooler. You can also invest in thermal or blackout curtains. These are specifically designed to block sunlight and insulate rooms, making them highly effective in reducing heat gain. Use will of course depend on seasonality and your own preferences.

External solutions include awnings or overhangs that can provide shade to windows exposed to direct sunlight, significantly cutting down on heat absorption, and strategically planting trees, shrubs, or vines can provide natural shading and cooling, reducing the heat entering through windows. External shutters also add an extra layer of insulation to your windows.

10. Avoid heat build-up during the day

Managing internal heat sources helps reduce the workload on your air conditioning system, especially during peak hours. By minimising the amount of heat generated indoors, you can save energy and reduce your energy bill.

Strategies include:

  1. Limit the use of heat-producing appliances: Try to avoid using heat-generating appliances like ovens, stoves, and dryers during the hottest parts of the day. Opt for cooking methods that produce less heat, such as using a microwave or grilling outside.
  2. Switch to energy-efficient lighting: Traditional incandescent bulbs emit a significant amount of heat. Switching to LED or CFL bulbs can reduce heat output and also save on energy.
  3. Use exhaust fans: In areas like kitchens and bathrooms, use exhaust fans to expel hot air and steam from cooking and showering, which can significantly increase indoor temperatures.
  4. Shut off unused electronics: Turn off electronic devices when not in use as they can generate a surprising amount of heat. This includes computers, televisions, and game consoles.
  5. Optimise home office equipment: If working from home, turn off office equipment like printers and monitors when they’re not in use.

By controlling internal heat sources, you can minimise temperature fluctuations in your home. This helps maintain a steady indoor temperature, reducing the frequency and intensity of air conditioner cycles. Less internal heat means your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down your space, and reducing the workload of your air conditioner can prolong its lifespan.

11. Educate everyone in the household/at work

Creating an energy-efficient environment is a team effort, and it involves educating everyone in the household or workplace about the importance of energy-saving practices. When each member understands and contributes to energy-efficient habits, the collective effort can significantly boost the overall effectiveness of your air conditioning system.

Encourage everyone to have mindful use of the thermostat, close doors and windows when the air conditioner is running, turn off unused lights and devices, and use fans for circulation. Consistent behaviour ensures that energy-saving measures are effective and sustained over time.

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Contact Mechcool Ltd

At Mechchool Ltd we have many years’ experience in installing and running regular maintenance of energy efficient air conditioning systems in both commercial and residential properties. With a focus on helping our customers get the best experience with their appliances and the best value with running costs, contact our friendly and professional team about our services, including upgrading your system to a newer, more energy efficient model.
We work across Sussex and Surrey and provide free, no-obligation quotes.

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Posted in Air Conditioning.