Preserving your net zero status means knowing the best ways to save on air conditioning, especially in Florida summers. The EIA reports that 27% of the energy consumed in Florida homes is used on air conditioning, more than four times the national average. With 86% of Floridians using central air conditioning, that’s a lot of money being spent on cooling our homes.
How air conditioners work
Understanding how an air conditioner works can help you make better choices on saving energy. Here’s a great explanation.
In the 1950s-1990s, most air conditioning units used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant in the compressor (step D). Production of CFCs came to a halt in 1995 due to environmental concerns surrounding CFCs. Halogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) replaced CFCs, but these are also phasing out in the next decade. As a result, many manufacturers are looking for alternative refrigerants that are both efficient and safe for the environment.
Buying a new air conditioner
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to keep your home cool could reduce energy use for air conditioning by 20% to 50%.” If you’re looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, look for air conditioning units with ozone-safe refrigerants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or ammonia. Watching energy labels can help you make informed decisions, and this article from Florida Power & Light explains terminology and other issues to watch for when you’re looking to purchase a new air conditioner.
Ways to save
If you’re not in the marketing for a new air conditioner, here are some ways to save on air conditioning costs with your current home unit.
Change your filter
Changing your filter regularly is the fastest and easiest way to save money on air conditioning. How often you should change your filter depends on what type it is. Check the label to see how often it should be changed. Typically the more it’s used—like in summer months—the more frequently it should be changed. Certainly change/clean it if it looks dirty.
Perform regular maintenance
Cleaning the coils, coil fins, and drains are all things that should be regularly maintained in order to ensure optimum air conditioner performance. For more in-depth tips, see the Department of Energy’s article on air conditioner maintenance.
Watch your appliance usage
Be mindful of appliance usage that can inadvertently heat up your home. If possible, use an outdoor grill instead of your oven for cooking. Turn off lights in your home during the afternoon and the brightest parts of the day. Don’t leave the refrigerator door open (no, this is not an efficient way to cool your home).
Insulate your home
Insulting your home isn’t to keep the cool air in as much as preventing the warm air from seeping in. Think about ways the air can get in. You should have good insulation in your attic, walls, seal cracks, and seal ducts.
Circulate your air
Using your home’s ceiling fans allows you to raise the temperature on your air conditioner without sacrificing your comfort level. Turn on the bathroom fan when you’re showering and the range hood when you’re cooking—this will help circulate the air better and also help reduce moisture levels. Consider the circulation of your air conditioning as well, by keeping your vents cleaned and unblocked by furniture or other items.
You may be surprised to see what a difference a few minor changes can make to your energy costs. Don’t let the heat get you down. Being informed will allow you to make the right decisions and show you how to be net zero in this hot Florida summer.