Okay, so you know the air conditioning basics. You understand how AC works. But how can you get the very best out of your AC? How can you keep your house as cool as possible, and still save as much as you can on your household bills?

Here’s a seven point guide on how to get the best out of your AC unit!

Air conditioning basics

Image courtesy of Storyblocks.

Make sure you have a modern, efficient model

Air con has been around for decades. While the basic principles of how it works remain the same, the actual units themselves have been improved over the years. Most houses, especially older houses, still have the AC units they were originally built with.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping an AC unit if it’s still in operating condition. But some older models aren’t anywhere near as efficient as their modern counterparts. So there’s a good chance you might be spending more on your energy bill than you have to. Over time, the initial outlay on a new unit will be more than paid for by your energy bill savings.

Stop your house from leaking cool air

You might have heard about how insulation can stop hot air from escaping from your house. But the same is equally true of cool air! Well, in a manner of speaking, anyway.

Having insulation doesn’t just stop hot air from escaping. It stops hot air leaking back in if you’re trying to keep your house cool! Heat can also leak in through loose window fittings, cracks between the door and the door frame, and loose floorboards. Of course, this isn’t one of the air conditioning basics because it might mean spending a few hundred dollars. But again, that money spent only comes back to you over time.

Don’t leave your AC on when you go out

It’s ‘common knowledge’ that it takes more energy to cool down your house again once you get home, rather than just keeping it cold while you’re out. That’s just one of the air conditioning basics, right? Actually, no- the opposite is true.

Research shows that it actually takes less energy to just turn your AC back on when you get back home. And of course, the longer that you’re out, the more energy you’ll be wasting. There’s no point keeping your house cold if nobody’s there to enjoy it.

Air conditioning basics: leave your doors and windows shut

This is one point that most people already know. But believe it or not, when we drive around Denver, you’d be surprised how many people have their windows and doors open on a hot summer day. It’s absolutely the wrong thing to do, because all of that cold air flows right out the door.

Air conditioning works best in a closed system. It actually works according to the same principles as a refrigerator. If you never have, try leaving your fridge door open for half an hour; it will still be quite cold, but nowhere near as cold as it would be if the door was closed.

On a similar note, if your AC is broken, leaving your fridge door open won’t cool down your house in the same way. While the cold air comes out of the front of the fridge, guess what’s coming out the back… That’s right, hot air. Your house actually gets warmer if you leave your fridge door open, not to mention that you waste energy!

Keep your thermostat in an ambient temperature

It’s important to keep the air around your thermostat about average for your house. This is because the temperature that your thermostat senses determines whether your AC should keep pumping out cool air.

Now, we understand that it’s not necessarily a simple thing to have your thermostat replaced and relocated somewhere else in the house. But there are a couple of steps you can take to keep the temperature around your thermostat ambient. First things first, make sure you don’t have any lamps or light fittings next to your thermostat, because these raise the temperature by a couple of degrees. The same applies if your thermostat is sitting in direct sunlight. If it is, then your thermostat will think your house is warmer than it is, and keep cooling the air even when it’s colder than you would like.

If your thermostat is in front of a window, keep the blinds closed, and don’t keep any lamps or heat sources next to it.

Make sure your AC unit is kept clean

This is yet another of the air conditioning basics. In front of either one or both of the fans in your air conditioning unit, you can find a removable filter (depending on your model). This filter is to stop dust and other debris from getting inside the unit, which could mean you need costly repairs.

Over time, this filter can get completely clogged with dust, leaves and other bits and pieces. When it’s full, your air conditioner won’t work as well as it could. It will have to work far harder to cool the air in your house, and you’ll be spending far more on your energy bill. The good news is that these filters are often very easily removable, so- like in the picture on the left- you can take it out and clean it.

Don’t just rely on your AC- keep cool in different ways

An AC unit is probably the best way to keep cool. But there are all sorts of other ways too- like the basic table fan. This can keep a constant stream of cool air blowing straight at you.

And if you’re prepared to be a little creative, there are some methods that don’t use any energy at all. First of all, and this isn’t intended to be rude, but… Don’t wear too much clothing! If you can get by in a vest and T-shirt at home, you’ll feel significantly cooler than wearing pants. Drinking cool drinks- which is a really nice thing to do on a hot day anyway- can also keep you feeling cold.

If you can keep cold using these methods, and turn your thermostat up a few degrees, then you could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Not bad, huh?