We constantly hear that when humidity turns the heat sticky, you and your home feel uncomfortable. And you might be thinking it's time to set your AC thermostat at the lowest level (for quick relief), purchase the largest unit available, or just close off vents to save energy and money.
But if this is true, why does Energy.gov say to keep your house warmer than average when you are away, and setting the thermostat to 78°F only when you are at home and need cooling. It takes less energy (which means savings in your pocket) to maintain a constant temperature rather than trying to bring it down quickly.
This fact may be a wake-up call to homeowners who need to stop believing in the common air conditioning misconceptions and start saving their hard-earned cash.
Here, we explore where the air conditioning biggest myths lie and offer ways to save you money without costing you comfort, and meeting your cooling needs.
What are the Biggest Air Conditioning Myths Costing You Money?
- Your home will cool faster by turning your thermostat way down
- Bigger AC units work better
- Turning off the AC when you're not home will save energy
- Air conditioning can be the cause of your summer cold
- Air filters do not have to be replaced for a year
- It’s best to let your old AC unit "kick the bucket" before replacing
- Thermostat location doesn’t affect air quality or temperature
- Fans keep a room cooler
- Close vents in unused rooms
- Your air conditioner won’t have to run as much if you keep the ceiling fan turned on
- Spring air conditioning checkups are a waste of time and money if you have a newer unit
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Air Conditioning Myths Busted! How to Save Money with Your AC Without Sacrificing Comfort
1. Your Home Will Cool Faster by Turning Your Thermostat Way Down
Cooling a room or your home will always be a matter of time. Even if you set the thermostat at the lowest possible setting, your AC unit will continue to run at the same pace.
Using a programmable thermostat may help with temperature variations. You could increase the temperature when you are not home by a few degrees, and adjust the temperature before you get back. This will help avoid the drastic increase or decrease in temperature.
Adjust your thermostat temperature according to your habits, preferences, and the temperature outside. The closer your thermostat setting is to the outside temperature, the more you'll save.
There is, however, an exception to every rule. If you have a window unit, you probably have low, medium, and high settings. Naturally, using the highest setting will cool things off faster, but don't forget to adjust it when you get to your perfect temperature.
2. Bigger AC Units Perform Better and Give you Better Results
An AC unit whose capacity is much too big for the space that it’s supposed to cool will force its compressor to turn itself on and off in quick intervals, which wears it out, shortens its life, and uses a lot of electricity.
When you choose an air conditioner size that is too large, it forces your unit to run continuously in short bursts, which causes it to burn out faster. If your unit is running in short bursts, it allows heat and humidity to creep back into the house, which can cause damage over time.
On the opposite side, selecting an air conditioner size that is too small wastes lots of energy and money, because the AC is always running to try to cool your home, even though it will never be able to do so correctly.
Selecting the right air conditioner size is the best way to get started saving money on your energy bill.
3. Turning Off the AC When You're Not Home Will Save Energy
This tactic is only true for extended periods. If you turn off the A/C before going to work on a hot summer day and turn it back on when you get home, your AC has to work harder to cool your home.
It's better to turn the thermostat up several degrees than off.
Cool Today, suggests turning the set temperature up 7 to 10 degrees while you’re away for the day. Turning up the thermostat is the better option because it:
- Protects your home from mold and bugs (Turning your air conditioner off causes humidity, and in the summer mold and insects love humidity)
- Saves you money (When setting back your thermostat daily, a setback of 7-10 degrees F for eight hours a day can save as much as 10 percent on annual heating and cooling energy use.)
- Keeps you comfortable (maintain a cooler temperature all day will manage the indoor humidity)
Energy Star, the federal program from the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency, said the coolest you should keep your home is 78 degrees when you're home.
4. Air Conditioning Can Be the Cause of Your Summer Cold
A virus, not a temperature, causes a cold. You must be exposed to germs, bacteria, and viruses to become sick. You could be experiencing allergies or an asthma-related symptom.
Your HVAC has an impact on your indoor air quality. Airborne illnesses could be a result of a dirty air conditioner.
Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick? Here's What Science Has to Say
"While anecdotal evidence may lead you to believe air-conditioning can make you sick, the science is clear: There is no reason to believe it's behind your midyear cold".
5. Air Filters Do Not Have to be Replaced for a Year
Air filters accumulate dust, mold, and other dirt particles. This causes poor airflow, which forces your AC unit to work harder. This results in more substantial electricity use and higher utility bills.
A clean filter effectively removes airborne particulates, ranging from dust to invisible microscopic particles. A dirty filter, however, can make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust, and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air.
Change your air filters according to your manufacturer's recommendations. Choose quality pleated fabric filters rated to trap airborne particles down to a size of 3 microns.
6. It’s Best to Let Your Old AC Unit "Kick the Bucket" Before Replacing
While buying a new air conditioning unit can cost you money in the beginning, its higher efficiency will save you more money than holding on to and operating an old one.
The heating and air conditioning systems being manufactured today are highly efficient and use less energy than systems built just 10 - 15 years ago. The higher the SEER, the less energy used and less costly to operate.
Consider age, technology, repair costs, and overall system performance. Weighing your options with complete information will help make your decision about when to invest in a new air conditioning system.
Related Content: Replacing Your Furnace and Air Conditioner Together Go-to-Guidebook as a PDF for free. Easily save it or print for reference anytime.
7. Thermostat Location Doesn’t Affect Air Quality or Temperature
The placement of your thermostat is crucial to your AC system’s performance and efficiency. A thermostat should always be placed away from heat or cooling sources, and in a central location where it can get an average reading of the temperature levels in your home.
A poorly-placed thermostat can waste energy and money. A well-placed thermostat will read the temperature in your home accurately and meet your demands for a controlled environment.
8. Fans Keep a Room Cooler
Fans move air in a room but do not affect the air temperature. However, it creates a wind-chill effect, so it may make you feel cooler, making it an excellent solution when you want to cool down without lowering the thermostat.
Fans are designed to cool people down, not rooms.
Here's a quick tip if you do not have central AC: Create a crosswind. Creating a crosswind is a refreshing one-two punch: you'll get the hot air out while also pulling the cooler air in.
9. Close Vents in Unused Rooms
Closing vents in rooms you do not use throws off the air distribution throughout your home. It causes pressure to build up in your ducts, making your air conditioning unit work harder.
According to SaveOnEnergy,
"It can waste more energy than operating your system normally does. Closing vents in unused rooms saves energy from entering the room, but it also pushes the excess air to other places in your home".
10. Your Air Conditioner Won’t Have to Run as Much if You Keep the Ceiling Fan Turned On
A ceiling fan does not increase the efficacy of your air conditioner. Ceiling fans don’t cool the air; it merely circulates the air that is already in the room.
Using a fan with your AC might enable you to turn the thermostat up slightly. This will save you money. CeilingFan.com cites it’s cheaper to use just your ceiling fan versus your air conditioner: a central air conditioning system runs about three kilowatts and costs 36 cents per hour, versus a ceiling fan running 30 watts, costing only one cent per hour.
They can work together to optimize your savings without sacrificing your home comfort.
11. Spring Air Conditioning Checkups are a Waste of Time and Money if you Have a Newer Unit
If you do have a high-efficiency, more modern air conditioner...
Don’t you want to keep it performing that way for as long as possible?
Scheduled service and cleaning will keep your unit running efficiently and catch potential problems that may have developed over the winter.
The most common myth of air conditioning is that if your home is especially warm, you should lower the thermostat as much as possible to quickly cool your home. But that's not how air conditioners work. So that myth is busted!
Thermostats can help make your home comfortable and work with your HVAC units. Another misconception we hear is the seasonal maintenance and tune-ups are not necessary. New seasons require different heating or cooling needs.
Keeping your air conditioning system running smoothly and efficiently requires proper, consistent maintenance, and service needs.