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How to Save Money on Your Louisville Cooling Bills

During the summer months, most people want to spend their extra money on things like vacations and home upgrades, not air conditioning. Unfortunately, making a few simple mistakes could drive up the cost of your summertime cooling. Read this convenient guide to learn how to maximize efficiency while keeping your home comfortable around the clock.

Summer Cooling Cost Averages in Louisville

Every year in the United States, families spend an average of $2,000 on home energy use. While things like home heating, running appliances, and turning on lights account for the bulk of this budget, about 16% of this average bill, or $320 a year, stems from air conditioning alone.

Summer Electricity Costs in Louisville

Whether you have a heat pump or a conventional air conditioner, your cooling can drive up your monthly power bill. In Kentucky, users pay an average of 10.30 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity consumed, which thankfully is below the national average of 13.34 cents per kWh. When compounded monthly the average electric cost is around $117.59 per customer, which is the 17th highest in the country.

As far as usage goes, Kentucky residents typically use 1,052 kWh per customer, but you can slash your usage by making a few simple changes.

Learning More About Your Cooling Expenses

If you want to know how much energy your air conditioner uses, you’ll need to start by gathering a few critical pieces of information. Find your air conditioner’s model number and try to determine how many hours a day your system runs. Some newer thermostats keep track of runtime and may display these numbers on the screen or within a smartphone application. On average, central air conditioners consume around one kWh for every hour per ton. Keep in mind that when referring to HVAC, tonnage represents a unit’s cooling capacity.

How Much Cooling Power Does Your Air Conditioner Have?

You can decipher how much cooling power your air conditioner has by viewing the model number and doing some simple multiplication. While the serial number for your system may be composed of a long series of numbers, you will find a two-digit even number (occasionally, depending on your AC manufacturer, this number may be three digits), starting with a zero and sometimes ending with a letter. The system’s BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a measurement designed to show how many thousands of BTUs in heat the unit can remove in 60 minutes. Residential AC units typically range from 18 to 60 BTU’s, which mean they can remove between 18,000 and 60,000 BTUs of heat an hour.

After you locate the BTU code in your serial number, multiply that number by a thousand, and then divide that number by 12,000 to learn the tonnage of your system. For instance, if you have a system with a 48 BTU rating, it will handle 48,000 BTUs per hour, and you would have a 4-ton system.

How Can You Determine Your AC Runtime?

Determining your air conditioner’s runtime can be tricky, but to get a good average, track how long your air conditioner actively runs for one hour during the hottest part of the day and one hour after the sun goes down. Multiply both numbers by 12 and divide the number by 60 to estimate your system’s daily runtime.

For instance

  • The air conditioner runs 40 minutes total for the hour measured in the middle of the day and 16 minutes total during the hour recorded after dark.
  • Multiply Both Numbers by 12 – 40 x 12 = 480; 16 x 12 = 192
  • Add the Two Numbers – 480 + 192 = 672
  • Divide by 60 – 672 / 60 = 11.2
  • Your Air Conditioner Is Estimated to Run 11.2 Hours per Day

Is Your Air Conditioner Consuming Excess Energy?

If your home has a 48,000 BTU system, you can safely assume that your unit uses about 4 kWh per hour. If you ran your system 11.2 hours a day, your system likely uses 44.8 kWh per day and 1344 kWh per month.

11.2 hours x 4.6 kWh per hour= 44.8 kWh per day

44.8 kWh per day x 30 days = 1344 kWh per month.

If you plan on the average Kentucky electric rate being 10.30 cents per kWh, the air conditioning portion of your electric bill could be $138.43 per month.

Use these formulations to calculate the cooling costs in your home. Performing these simple calculations can help you to track your energy spending and make adjustments, so you can conserve as much energy as possible.

How Can You Set Your Thermostat to Lower Energy Costs?

One of the best ways to lower your energy costs is by using your air conditioner less frequently when you select more conservative setpoints. The higher your thermostat is set during the summer, the smaller the temperature span is between the inside of your home and the outdoors, which means your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to keep your house cool. To use less energy, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during the summer months. If there is a hot day and you are faced with 90-degree temperatures, your air conditioner will only have to span a 12-degree gap in temperatures instead of a higher number, lowering your energy costs.

Other Eco-Friendly Thermostat Tips

Reducing the amount of time your air conditioner needs to run can be extraordinarily helpful. To make a bigger dent in that monthly power bill, check out these tips to use your thermostat to reduce your energy usage:

  • Program your thermostat for summer use: When was the last time you programmed your thermostat? Although 27.4 million U.S. homes use a programmable thermostat with their air conditioner, only about 1 in 8 households use it properly by programming their unit. Take a few minutes to review the settings you have on your thermostat to ensure that the time, date, and programming settings are correct.

  • Don’t forget energy-saving setbacks: To cut energy use by as much as 10%, create energy set-back timeframes when you don’t use your air conditioner. You can opt to have your AC unit turn off at night while you sleep, during the day when you are away at work, or in the evening when you are busy doing other things to cut your cooling costs.

  • Think before you adjust: While it can be tempting to turn down your thermostat to a very low level to cool your space quicker, this tactic eats through energy and doesn’t work. Your air conditioner will still take the same amount of time to cool your home down, but if you forget to readjust when your system hits your desired temperature, it could run for much longer than you intend, using extra energy. Instead, only adjust your thermostat to setpoints you actually want your air conditioner to work towards and resist the temptation to over-adjust.

  • Use the vacation setting: If you plan to go out of town, use the vacation or hold mode on your thermostat. Vacation and hold modes give you the chance to tweak temperatures for a set period of time without adjusting all the rest of the scheduling already programmed into your thermostat. Use your owner’s manual to learn how to program vacation holds for your thermostat and allow your air conditioner to run according to those settings while you are away. Never turn your air conditioner completely off while you leave town, since excess heat and humidity could damage belongings or create a dangerous environment for pets.

Managing Indoor Temperatures on Sweltering Days

When the weather is especially hot and muggy, it can be difficult for your air conditioner to manage the temperature. The majority of air conditioners operate most efficiently when temperatures are below 95 degrees, so be prepared to do what you can to take some of the strain off of your system. Use these steps to limit heat gain and manage indoor temperatures more efficiently:

  • Close doors and windows tightly: Check the doors and windows in your home and ensure that they are closed tight. If you notice drafts or leaks, use weatherstripping to seal the area.

  • Close window treatments during the day: UV light can heat up the air, which is why closing window treatments can help with indoor temperatures. Lower the burden on your air conditioner by closing window treatments during the day to block sunlight and heat gain. If you love natural light but want to minimize heat gain, close window coverings based on the time of day. For instance, in the morning, you can cover east-facing windows, south-facing windows throughout the day, and west-facing windows in the afternoon.

  • Open all vents: Check each of the vents in your home to make sure they are open. While many people believe that closing certain vents can maximize cooling, it actually increases air pressure in your ducts and can harm your entire HVAC system. Instead, open vents to give your air conditioner the chance to cool your home efficiently.

  • Avoid heat-generating activities and appliances: Avoid heating your environment by using heat-generating appliances like ovens, dishwashers, and clothing dryers during the day. Taking hot showers, exercising indoors, and using things like heat blankets can also warm your interior, so avoid these activities until the evening. Instead, use the outdoors as much as you can to avoid generating heat. Grill outside, exercise in the park or hang laundry outdoors instead of using your dryer to save money.

While preventing indoor heat gain can be helpful, you can feel cooler by doing these things:

  • Ceiling fans are a very energy-efficient home appliance that can make your home feel a lot cooler in the summer. During the warmer months of the year, your ceiling fan should be set to spin counterclockwise, which produces a downdraft that generates a cooling sensation as it moves across your skin. Ceiling fans also help moisture from sweat to evaporate, helping your body to cool itself naturally, without relying on a lower air conditioner setting. Using ceiling fans is effective enough that it has been shown to help inhabitants stay comfortable while setting the thermostat back as much as four degrees.

  • When you get dressed in the morning, wear as few layers as possible to prevent unnecessary insulation. Opt for breathable fabrics like cotton and avoid tightly knit fabrics that don’t wick away moisture well, such as polyester. When your clothing is loose and more skin is exposed, more surface area is showing, making it easier for heat and moisture to transfer away from your body.

Saving Energy by Changing Your Habits

Energy conservation isn’t just for the hottest days of the summer. You can use energy-friendly habits all year long to use less power, keep your home more comfortable, and help your family to learn great habits.

  • Schedule a routine air conditioner tune-up in the spring, before the hottest parts of summer. Professional tune-ups can help you to spot and resolve energy-hungry issues, such as blocked filters or damaged compressors. During tune-ups, professionals will also deep clean your system to maximize efficiency.

  • If your system is making a strange noise or not operating at peak capacity, schedule repairs Professional repairs can help you to extend the life of your air conditioner, since some issues can cause other problems.

  • Check your HVAC filter frequently, as often as every month, and replace it whenever it appears dirty. Clogged filters can impact air quality and reduce efficiency since your system will have to work harder to pull in and circulate air.

  • Keep your thermostat, air vents, and outdoor air conditioner clean. Dust the exterior and interior of your thermostat using canned air to ensure it can detect the ambient air temperature effectively. Clean out air vents to prevent filter blockages, and outdoor air conditioning components to maximize airflow. When outdoor air conditioning units are clean, it creates more efficient heat exchange, which can help to keep your home cooler.

  • In your home, use exhaust fans in the bathrooms and fume hoods in the kitchen to exhaust hot, humid, or polluted indoor air generated by cooking, showering, and cleaning. After the heat, humidity, or pollutants have exited your home, turn off the fans to avoid expelling air-conditioned air outdoors.

  • When you select window treatments, choose options with white or light-colored backing. Light-colored window treatments help to reflect incoming light and heat, reducing the strain on your air conditioner.

  • Keep lights off in unused rooms and make the switch to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs. LED bulbs generate very little heat, which can help you to keep your home cool and comfortable.

  • Keep the doors in your home open so air can move freely from one room to the next. If you have a room that tends to be warmer or cooler than others, ask an HVAC professional to inspect your system for problems. You could have a disjointed air duct run or a damaged vent cover blocking airflow.

  • Take advantage of passive cooling by using the hold feature on your air conditioner overnight and opening your windows. Open windows can create cross breezes that naturally move air out of your home, so you wake up to a naturally air-conditioned space. In the morning, simply close the windows and remove the hold setting to resume normal cooling.

  • Check the temperature settings on your water heater, and turn them down to the recommended 120 degrees or lower. The lower the setting on your water heater, the less energy the system will take to provide your home with hot water.

Selecting an Air Conditioner Brand

As air conditioners age, they can start to develop efficiency problems. Over time, the moving parts of air conditioners can sustain wear and tear, which can interrupt your ability to cool your home efficiently. Air conditioner efficiency is measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. In Louisville, the minimum SEER rating air conditioner manufacturers are allowed to create is 14.

However, you can find high-efficiency air conditioners with SEER ratings well into the twenties. The higher the SEER number, the better the system is at generating cooling power without consuming extra energy. Replacing your air conditioner with a new version is a great way to boost your home’s energy efficiency all summer long.

Here at Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we are a Carrier Authorized Dealer committed to bringing the best HVAC services to people throughout Louisville, Kentucky. We offer the best of the best, including central air conditioning systems capable of offering up to 26 SEER. Whether you are looking for a whole-home air conditioning solution or a unit small enough to cool off a small space, we are happy to help.

We have an entire dedicated team of Comfort Consultants who are committed to helping you find the perfect new air conditioner for your home. Every house and family is different, which is why we take the time to sit down with you and discuss your budget and personal preferences before moving ahead. When you select an air conditioner, our team of NATE-certified installation specialists will install your new system according to factory-direct training from Carrier. We want your home to be cool all summer long, and we will work hard to keep it that way.

Need Air Conditioning Help? Call Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Summers can be hot in Louisville, KY, which is why you should always keep Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in your phone. Give us a call at the first sign of air conditioner trouble, and our NATE-certified team will help at a moment’s notice. From simple troubleshooting to complex repairs, our team can help you to restore cool temperatures to your home. We use state-of-the-art technology to spot problems with your air conditioner and resolve them conservatively. If you decide to upgrade your air conditioner, you are sure to find what you need, since we are a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer committed to excellence in our field. Contact us now for the best price on air conditioner repairs and replacements.

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