The dog days of summer are perfect for barbeques, swimming, and relaxing. When it’s time to beat the heat, however, there’s nothing better than relaxing in a cool, air-conditioned home. Cooling the house does take energy, which can be expensive, so many homeowners experience higher bills during the summer months. Unfortunately, these bills are often much higher than they need to be since homeowners tend to overuse their air conditioners or do other things that can cause the cost of energy to rise.
When it’s hot outside, it shouldn’t be hot inside. And it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to cool the home to a reasonable temperature. There is plenty of advice to help homeowners save money on cooling costs, but much of the information available is incorrect. Below are some of the most persistent myths in the air conditioning industry, why they’re wrong, and what to do instead to save money and keep the home cool.
Myth: A Bigger A/C Unit is Always Better
Everything’s bigger in Texas, as the saying goes. It’s no surprise that often,people suggest that homeowners get the largest air conditioner they can afford to help cool the home better. If it’s bigger, the idea is that it’ll cool the home faster and keep it cool. However, with the way air conditioners work, a bigger unit isn’t always better.
A bigger unit will push more air, which will cool the house down, but it will use a lot more energy to do so. Having an air conditioner appropriately sized for the home will be far more cost-efficient and cool the house down just as well. Homeowners can save money by not buying the biggest one possible and making sure it’s the correct size for their home. Consider a unit that can cool 2,000 square feet. If the house is only 1,000 square feet, the unit will still attempt to cool the 2,000 square feet, but half of it will be wasted.
Homeowners, instead, should have a professional installation done when a new air conditioning system is needed. A professional will inspect the home and determine the appropriate size for the air conditioner to avoid installing one that’s too big or too small. By ensuring the air conditioner is the right size, homeowners can still have a cool home during the hottest summer days but will be able to save more money.
Myth: A/C Filters Can Last Months
Air conditioning units require filters to prevent dust and debris from getting into the system. Many filters are rated as being able to be used for three months or even longer. Homeowners may have also heard that homes without pets can continue to use the same filter for up to a year. This is not only bad advice but could lead to the air conditioner shutting off when the heat outside rises, and it has to work too hard to keep the home cool.
As a filter blocks dust and debris, it starts to get dirty. The dirtier the filter is, the less air can flow through it. When there isn’t as much air flowing through, the system must work harder to keep the home cool. A clean air filter enables the flow of air through the system, allowing it to work correctly and more efficiently. So, how often does the filter need to be changed? Homeowners should change their filters at least once per month. Homes with many pets may need to change it a little more frequently due to the buildup of pet hair and dander.
When it comes to air filters, the more expensive ones aren’t necessarily better. In many cases, the more expensive filters are designed to block more, but that does mean there is reduced airflow from the beginning. Homeowners will need to replace these more frequently, leading to a higher cost. Any filter sized for the space and designed to trap dirt and debris is going to be a good option, and the filters that cost less may be a better option to save money while still making sure the system can operate as intended.
Myth: A Working A/C Unit Doesn’t Need Maintenance
Calling a professional when the air conditioner isn’t working is something most people don’t think twice about – people and pets need cool air during the summer. When the air conditioning is working fine, however, many people won’t call for maintenance. It’s not true that homeowners can skip maintenance if the system is working correctly. It might not be working as well as it could, and homeowners could be wasting more money than they realize by having a system that won’t work efficiently.
Though manufacturers design air conditioners to last for a decade or longer, many parts can and will wear down long before this period is over. When something wears down or breaks, it will require immediate repair during the summer months, which can be costly. On top of that, while it isn’t working correctly, the system will need to work harder to cool the home, which costs more money. The system may seem like it’s working fine, but it’s more expensive to cool the house because of the reduced efficiency, and an emergency repair bill may be on the way.
Instead, homeowners should have professional maintenance done yearly to keep the air conditioner in great shape much longer. Minor problems can be spotted and fixed before the system stops working during the hottest days of the year, and the system will be more efficient, so those energy bills don’t soar quite as high during the summer. While the system can still break down, proper maintenance will save homeowners a significant amount of money and are well worth the expense.
Myth: Turning Down the Thermostat Makes the Home Cool Faster
Many people believe that turning down the thermostat temporarily will help the home cool faster, and it’s easy to see why. The idea is that turning the temperature down will make the system work harder, so it’s going to cool the home faster than it would just setting the thermostat to the desired temperature. Unfortunately, doing this is just a waste of money and won’t affect how quickly the home cools.
The air conditioner is not going to cool any faster because it’s trying to cool the home 15 degrees compared to two or three degrees. It works at a consistent rate no matter what the homeowner sets the thermostat to, so it’s not going to get cooler any faster. What is going to happen is that the home will end up colder than it needs to be, which means the homeowner wastes money making the house too cold. If the homeowner sets the thermostat low and then forgets about it until they start to feel chilly, they’ve likely wasted a significant amount of money.
It’s better to just set the temperature to where it should be when the home needs to be cooled down. If the homeowner raises the temperature when no one is home and it needs to cool down, setting it to colder isn’t going to help. Those who want to save money and come home to a cool home may want to invest in a smart thermostat they can adjust remotely. Turning the system on fifteen or twenty minutes before arriving home means saving money and a cool home immediately.
Myth: Leaving the Temperature When No One is Home Saves Money
Another myth that sounds reasonable at first glance is that leaving the temperature alone when no one is home will save money. The idea behind this is that the air conditioner won’t have to work hard to cool the home once people get home from work or school. The truth is, unless there are pets at home, a cool home when no one is there to need it is just a waste of energy.
During the day, if there are no people or pets in the home, it doesn’t need to be cooled as much. It’s okay to raise the temperature five to ten degrees so the system won’t work as hard when no one is getting anything from it. The system won’t work nearly as hard to cool the home, which leads to significant savings for homeowners. When the thermostat is adjusted for people to be home, it’s not going to waste energy to cool the home. The air conditioner works at the same level no matter how much colder the house needs to be, so it’s not going to waste money to cool it down once everyone is starting to get home in the evening.
When the temperatures start to rise, the air conditioner is often the biggest energy cost in the home. Cool air throughout the home is necessary to prevent heat-related ailments and keep everyone comfortable. Though it is a considerable expense, it doesn’t need to be as expensive as it is through the hottest months of the year. Knowing about the myths and understanding how the system works makes it possible to save a significant amount on energy bills no matter what the temperature is outside. Contact AC TEX, LLC at (817) 756-1366 today for help or information on having a more efficient air conditioner installed.
Blake Brumfield is the owner of AC TEX, LLC Air Conditioning and Heating. He is a graduate of Lindsey-Cooper Refrigeration School and has over 6 years of working experience out in the field. Blake holds a Universal EPA License, Certified Technician License, and a HVAC Contractor License. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Blake spends most of his free time continuing to study and learn about today’s modern HVAC systems.