As the Summer months approach you may be thinking about how expensive your electric bills may become. Here in Florida it seems like the temperature climbs about as high as our electric bills in July or August. One easy way to lower those large electric bills is by cutting down on home air conditioning to conserve power and save money. The way to achieve this and stay comfortable is by using ceiling fans. Ceiling fans don’t cool the air but they keep the air moving throughout a home. As the air moves across a person’s skin it evaporates moisture and provides a cooling effect. Many people refer to this as the “wind chill effect”. In the middle of Summer the combination of ceiling fans and air conditioning will allow you to set the thermostat a couple degrees warmer and still feel comfortable while saving electricity. There may also be days when you might turn the air conditioning off completely. This is because ceiling fans are great at mixing air masses, both warm and cold air. The fan will draw warm air upward to provide a more comfortable atmosphere. Another trick is to reverse the blades during winter months to push the warm air downwards to mix with cool air near the floor. This will make the air at the floor level warmer and save on your heating bill. You heard right…ceiling fans can save energy in the Winter months as well!
If you are planning to install new fans yourself it is important the fan is installed securely. It is important to do a little planning. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using an existing junction box that is not designed for fans. Most fans weigh between 15 to 40 lbs and a regular octagonal junction box that used to hold a small light fixture may not be sufficient to hold a fan that is in operation. You must ensure the junction box is attached securely to the structure and will hold both the weight and vibration of the fan. It is equally important to ensure there is enough headroom beneath a fan. As a rule of thumb you’ll need a ceiling height of at least eight feet and a clearance of at least seven feet below the bottom of the fan. When purchasing a fan you should also consider the application and how the fan will be used. There are a variety of fans on the market designed for different purposes. Make sure you buy the right fan for the right application. Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing a ceiling fan is noise levels. We’ve all been somewhere where the fan was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think. Remember if your fan is installed correctly and in the right location it’s a terrific way to stay cool in the Summer. The great thing about fans is they use about the same electricity as a light bulb.
The unbearable heat of Summer gives most home owners no choice but to turn down their air conditioning thermostats. For some it could be time to start thinking about replacing your air conditioning unit if its old. The main reason is that older air conditioning units may use 30% to 70% more electricity than their new energy efficient counterparts. This equates to costing substantially more money during the peak Summer months. The break even point for the installation cost of a new air conditioner may be only a few years when considering the annual energy savings. If you do opt for a newer energy efficient air conditioner remember that bigger isn’t always better. The size of the air conditioning unit you need depends completely on your home. In some cases the tonnage estimated for a home is done incorrectly. An air conditioning unit that is over sized is a waste of money to buy and operates inefficiently. The over sized unit will cycle on and off too frequently and a under sized air conditioning will lack the cooling capacity to cool the home. You can avoid this problem by ensuring the HVAC contractor performs a load calculation using industry standard procedures. A proper load calculation will take many factors into account including the square footage of the home, total air volume, climate conditions, and conditions unique to the home. Once the size of the air conditioner is determined you’ll want to get the most efficient unit possible. The efficiency is measured in something called SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the number the more efficient the unit is.
Here are a few tips to lower your electric bill this Summer:
- Use a programmable thermostat to save energy when you are at work or away from home.
- Close all windows and doors when the air conditioner is running
- Make sure the condensing unit is clear of leaves or any debris
- Have the outdoor condensing unit installed in a shaded area if possible
- Keep blinds and shades closed to reduce the solar heat gain that will make the air conditioning system work harder
- Clean or replace filters once a month