Ok today is hot here. Not as in HOLY MOLY WE ARE FRYING EGGS HOT… but rather if it’s this hot now LOOK OUT. The subject of air conditioners has come about. I don’t have central air so I’m reduced at the moment to use window mounted air conditioners.
Last year it was NOT FUN! We had to shell out a LOT of dollars to keep our house a little cooler. This year I want to cool more and spend less. So I’ve done my homework and found a few ways to reduce my electric bill and still keep my cool.
- Right size my AC – this is IMPORTANT. Too small and it will run itself ragged and chew up your bill and you’ll STILL be hot. There is a pretty detailed calculator over at Consumer Reports on how to select the right size air conditioner. My guess is that mine are a bit small. Also note that oversizing doesn’t work better either. If you want a quick estimate take a look at the Energy Star Properly Sized Room Air Conditioner Chart which will help you decide on the correct size. It’s not as detailed as the calculator but it gets you in the ballpark.
- Install correctly – Not only keeing the unit from falling out also put it in the shade and if possible north facing. This will let it cool the easiest. Keep branches and leaves away from it as they can reduce the efficiency.
- Clean the Filter – check the manual for your unit and while it’s unplugged clean the air filter and other pieces. This will help airflow AND reduce allergens and other contaminents in your air. I’d recommend cleaning the air filter a couple of times each season and if you really want replace it yearly. This will keep you cool and healthy.
- Clean the condenser coils – these are the metal fins on the outside of the unit. These help expend the heat outside in order to cool your house. You can vacum these out and even hose them out Make sure water does not hit the inside portion of the unit and any electronics or motors.
- Straighten cooling fins – these are the metal pieces that often get bent really easily. They can also cut your fingers really quick also. SO BE CAREFUL. They do have a coil fin comb at many hardware stores that you use to do this job properly. Check to see how many ‘fins per inch’ your unit has as the combs do come in various sizes.
- Power your unit properly – try NOT to use extension cords or overload your circuit. If you HAVE to use an extension cord, look for a grounded(three prong) appliance cord that is rated to handle a bit more than the load your AC will use. Pulling to much power through and extension cord is recipe for disaster.
Well I’m off to clean my AC units before it get too hot. In a bit I’ll tell you how to keep that electric bill a bit smaller with a few cooling techniques.