Every Las Vegas resident relies on their home’s air conditioning to get through the scorching Nevada summers. Most homeowners simply accept the higher electric bills that come with daily AC use during the summer months. To avoid it, you can escape to cooler parts of the country for summer vacations. If however, you have no summer travel plans, here are some tried and tested ways to lower your electric bill during the summer.
Keep The AC at a Moderate Temperature
A comfortable AC temperature differs from person to person. While one may find a higher temperature comfortable, another wants to drop it to a cooler 65. This can cause constant conflict in a family household where everyone has a different temperature preference.
A moderate temperature — one that’s not too hot or too cold — should do the trick in keeping everyone happy and it will help lower your energy bill. Here’s a guideline to the best temperature settings to follow during the day, at night, and when you’re not at home.
The Ideal Daytime Temperature
Most people give little thought to how the number on the AC thermostat affects the number on their electric bill. In the summertime, the lower you set the thermostat, the more electricity the air conditioner will use.
To use less electricity, a good rule of thumb is to keep the thermostat temperature as close as possible to the outside temperature. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends a temperature of 78 degrees in summer. This should be cool enough to keep the home comfortable with the added benefit of lowering your energy bill.
Drop The Temperature At Night
If you’re one of the 60 million Americans who suffer from insomnia, check your AC temperature. A simple adjustment of the thermostat may solve the problem!
When we fall asleep our bodies undergo a slight drop in temperature. A room that is too hot or too cold will interfere with the body’s effort to reach the ideal temperature for sleep. It may also result in a fitful night’s sleep and waking frequently during the night. A cooler room will help you fall asleep faster and give you a better quality of sleep.
At night, lower the AC’s temperature to around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Research shows that this is the ideal bedroom temperature for a good night’s sleep. If you find 68 degrees a little too nippy, then raise the temperature slightly to one that you find more comfortable. In addition, if your room has a ceiling fan, turn it on. While they won’t directly lower temperature, they will help circulate the cool air from your AC more efficiently.
Raise The Temperature When You’re Not Home
If you are out of the house for most of the day, don’t switch the air conditioner off. Las Vegas summers are dry. When this dry heat builds up inside your home it can cause cracks to form in the walls, paint to peel, and wood to split. It will also mean walking into a hot stuffy house at the end of the day and waiting longer for the house to cool down once the AC is turned back on.
Instead, increase the temperature to around 85 degrees when you’re not home. At this temperature, your home won’t be as cool as you may like when you get home, but it won’t be stifling hot either. And the bump up in temperature helps saves energy. To help keep the house cooler, close the curtains and blinds. Sunlight streaming through windows adds extra heat to a house.
When you do get home, don’t try to “quick cool” the house. This involves dropping the thermostat temperature as low as possible to try to cool down the house quickly. According to the DOE, this does not work. A colder setting on the thermostat won’t produce colder air; the air coming from the vents will still feel the same as if you just lowered it by two degrees. All this does is waste unnecessary electricity.
Don’t Neglect HVAC Maintenance
A well-functioning HVAC system is one of the key factors in keeping energy costs low. HVAC maintenance is an important part of keeping your HVAC system functioning efficiently. Many homeowners, however, want to avoid spending money on HVAC maintenance. They don’t realize that neglecting HVAC maintenance will cost them more in the long run. Poor efficiency places the system under strain, forcing it to work harder to heat or cool a room. This results in a higher energy bill.
A lack of maintenance will also lead to unexpected breakdowns, frequent repairs, and will shorten the lifespan of the unit. Not only is this an inconvenience, but an unwelcome expense. You may find yourself forking out money for a new HVAC unit sooner than expected.
All of this can be avoided with regular preventative HVAC maintenance. We recommend an HVAC service at the change of season. If you don’t want to be stuck without air conditioning on a hot day, it’s best to schedule an air conditioner tune-up before summer starts. Your HVAC technician will perform a health check on the system and make sure it’s running smoothly. He or she will be able to pick up on issues that may be lurking that can cause bigger problems later on. With a maintenance schedule in place, your HVAC system will last as long as the manufacturer intended.
Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
A great way to lower HVAC costs is by investing in a programmable thermostat. A conventional thermostat means having to manually make temperature changes at night and when you leave and return home. A programmable thermostat makes this easy by allowing you to pre-program temperatures for different times of the day. It’s convenient and you won’t have to rely on memory to adjust the temperature before you leave home.
Programmable thermostats, like the Honeywell Programmable Thermostat Pro, are fairly inexpensive and offer a great return on investment in the form of increased energy savings. If used correctly, you’ll quickly recoup the initial purchase cost with the money you’ll save on your electric bill.
If you’re tech-savvy, a smart thermostat may be more to your liking. The difference between a smart thermostat and programmable thermostat is connectivity. Smart thermostats connect to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled via an app on your smartphone. This means you don’t need to be home to make adjustments — you can change the temperature or turn off the AC remotely. Forgot to adjust the temperature when you left for work? Simply hop on to the app and make the change!
Some thermostats, like the Nest Wi-Fi Thermostat, are even smarter. These thermostats are able to “learn” your home’s habits and can automatically adjust according to the household routine or ambient conditions. They can even track your energy usage which is a useful feature when trying to bring down your energy costs.
Replace Your Old HVAC System With a More Energy-Efficient One
If your HVAC system is older than 10 years and not performing as well as it used to, it’s time to replace it. In the last decade, HVAC technology has improved and shifted towards more being more environmentally friendly. Don’t wait until your HVAC system gives out before installing a new one. The extra money you’ll spend on the higher energy costs of an inefficient system is a waste. Replacing your old unit with a more energy-efficient one is a wise decision, especially if you notice that maintenance and repairs are not improving the situation.
Here’s what to take into consideration to ensure you purchase an HVAC system that will offer the best energy efficiency.
Choose an AC Unit With a Higher SEER Rating
SEER ratings became mandatory in the United States in 2006 when all air conditioners manufactured after 2005 were required to have a minimum SEER rating of 13, up from the previous 10. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and is the benchmark by which the energy efficiency of a residential air conditioner is measured.
Today SEER ratings go up to 21, and some even higher. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the unit is. SEER ratings differ from state to state. In Nevada, AC units must have a minimum SEER rating of 14. An AC unit with a 14 SEER rating can reduce your energy usage by 20-40 percent. Buying one with a higher SEER rating can save you even more.
Look Out For The ENERGY STAR Label
When shopping for a new HVAC system, also keep an eye out for units with the ENERGY STAR label. HVAC systems that are endorsed by ENERGY STAR are in line with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strict energy efficiency guidelines.
An air conditioner or heat pump with the ENERGY STAR label can reduce household energy costs by as much as 20 percent. Furnaces can be 15 percent more energy-efficient. Overall, HVAC units that have earned the ENERGY STAR label can cut the average household annual electric bill by $115.
Consider Installing a Zoned System
An excellent way to make your home more energy-efficient is to install a zoned HVAC system. Zoned systems consist of multiple thermostats that are wired to a single control panel. Dampers are installed in the ductwork in each zone. The thermostats will read the temperature in each zone and open or close the dampers according to the setting on the thermostat.
In traditional HVAC systems, the whole house is heated or cooled including rooms not used. A zoned system allows you to run the system in certain parts of the home and turn it off or set a different temperature in other areas that are not occupied. This way, you avoid unnecessary use of energy.
Zoned systems offer the following additional benefits:
- They are a good option for large and multi-story homes that suffer inconsistent temperatures. Two-story homes are often hotter upstairs and cooler downstairs. Zoning allows you to set different temperatures so that both levels are comfortable.
- A zoned system is the ideal solution to meet the individual temperature needs of everyone in a family. Each room can be heated or cooled individually. No more arguments over the AC temperature.
Heating and cooling systems contribute to around 40 percent of a household’s energy costs. If you’ve tried every trick in the book to reduce your AC bill during summer with little to no success, then it may be time to replace the unit. To install a new HVAC system, contact us at The Cooling Company at (702) 790-8277. We’ll also check your home’s insulation and ductwork for leaks to make sure your new system won’t lose air through leaky ducts or poorly sealed windows and doors.