Keeping your Las Vegas, NV home cool can consume a lot of energy. This is especially true if your air conditioner is running full-blast all the time. Although turning your cooling system off before you leave home seems like an easy way to lower your carbon footprint and your energy bills, it’s hardly the right solution. Whether leaving for work or for a short vacation, it’s best to leave your AC on. Making a slight adjustment to your thermostat setting is a far preferable way to generate savings. Read on to find out why.
Your Air Conditioner Will Work Harder Later
On the hottest days of the year, turning your air conditioner off doesn’t actually save energy. Instead, it forces your air conditioner to work harder once it’s turned back on. During the daylight hours and while you’re away, your home is constantly taking in thermal energy. The natural sunlight that beams on and through your windows and the solar heat that’s absorbed by your roof is constantly forcing your indoor temperature up. With your air conditioner on and your thermostat set at a reasonable level, your AC can work at a steady rate to offset these gains.
Leaving your air conditioner off, even when no one is at home, will leave you with a living space that’s absolutely sweltering. Not only will your AC work harder when you turn it back on, but it will also take a lot longer to create the comfortable indoor temperature you want.
Raise Your Thermostat Setting by 10 Degrees
Setting your thermostat just 10 degrees higher can have a noticeable impact on your home energy bill. Your air conditioner will run shorter and less frequent cooling cycles while you’re away. When you return and adjust your thermostat, it won’t take long before your living space is comfortable again. You can use this same tactic during the nighttime hours when the sun is down and the outside air is markedly cooler.
Your Home’s Envelope and How It Impacts Energy Use
When your air conditioner is properly maintained and doesn’t require any AC repairs, you should be able to run it all the time without seeing any massive spikes in your utility bills. When hot weather arrives, you should turn your AC on and keep it that way until colder temperatures roll in. Simply find a moderate, livable temperature, and stick with this setting while you’re at home and awake. You can adjust this setting by several degrees before going to work or school, and again just after waking up or returning home.
Creating a tight home envelope by sealing up cracks and gaps around your windows and doors, adding insulation, and shoring up any holes in building materials will prevent your cool, conditioned air from escaping outside. It will also keep hot outdoor air from migrating in via a process known as induction.
If you have an overly loose home envelope, thermal heat gains throughout the hottest portion of the day will drive your energy bill up irrespective of where your thermostat is set. However, tightening your home’s envelope too much could cause indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns by limiting natural ventilation and keeping airborne contaminants trapped indoors. The best way to balance your envelope for optimum AC performance, efficiency, and IAQ is by working with a licensed HVAC contractor.
How Smart and Programmable Thermostats Can Help
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) agrees that making slight thermostat adjustments is a far more effective way to control your summertime energy use than simply turning your AC off while you’re away. However, making regular changes to your thermostat setting takes a lot of effort and a good memory. When this process is done manually, there’s a fair amount of human error that could have a cumulative impact on your results. Forgetting to lower or raise your thermostat setting by 10 degrees just two to three times each week will leave you with significantly higher energy costs overall.
Smart and programmable thermostats eliminate human error. You can set a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your indoor temperature whenever you step out and just before you return. This way, when you walk in the door, your living space will already be at your preferred temperature. Smart thermostats work similarly. However, these Wi-Fi-connected devices can be also adjusted from any location with an active Internet connection by using a cellphone, laptop, or tablet. Smart thermostats are learning devices. A smart thermostat can adhere to the schedule you set, but it can also remember your schedule, record your preferences, and gradually adjust its settings to perfectly reflect the data that it’s collected.
Additional Strategies for Cutting Summer Cooling Costs
The DOE estimates that consumers can shave approximately 10% off of their home energy bills by simply adjusting their thermostats by seven to 10 degrees Fahrenheit whenever they leave and right before they go to bed. However, there are also easy ways to cut your summertime cooling costs without compromising your comfort or investing a lot of time or effort. Foremost among these is scheduling AC tune-up service.
Giving your air conditioner a performance tune-up every 12 months and right before the summer heat arrives will prime it for efficiency. During AC tune-up service, the air conditioners is thoroughly tested. All of its internal and external parts are cleaned, and worn or damaged components are replaced. Thermostat locations are assessed and improved, and thermostats themselves are calibrated.
It’s also important to stay on top of AC filter changes. These components should be inspected monthly and swapped out or cleaned approximately every 30 to 90 days. If you have pets in your home, or you live in an especially dusty area, you may even need to clean or change your HVAC air filter every two to three weeks.
If you have ceiling fans in your home, set them to rotate counterclockwise during the summer months. This will create a downdraft that makes your living space feel cooler than it actually is. Turning your ceiling fans on when you get home may even make it possible to keep your thermostat setting several degrees higher than normal without making your home’s interior feel hot and stuffy.
Finally, if you have a large and active household, consider investing in a secondary form of humidity control. Although your air conditioner can certainly help you regulate indoor moisture levels, if there are lots of people taking hot baths and showers or completing steamy cooking projects, your household may be producing more moisture than your AC can effectively remove. Having a dehumidifier installed will give you the benefit of drier, cooler-feeling air and a living space that’s considerably more comfortable.
We’ve been serving residents of Las Vegas, NV and the surrounding area since 1998. We offer superior air conditioner, heater, and heat pump installation, maintenance, and repair services. Our clients also turn to us for advanced indoor air quality solutions, germicidal UV lights, and preventive maintenance agreements. To find out more about having a smart or programmable thermostat installed or to schedule an appointment, get in touch with Polar Air & Heating, Inc. today!