If you’ve got an air conditioner, then one of the things on your mind is probably, “How can I save money on running the AC this summer?”
Let’s face it: cooling costs account for a substantial chunk of your energy bill, and unless you’re inclined to sweat it out on those 90-plus-degree dog days, you’re going to see the dollar amount climb.
Wanting to save money is perfectly reasonable, but are the tactics you’re using really working? Or are you inadvertently sabotaging your own efforts?
If you’re closing your AC vents in some rooms in order to divert cool air to other, more lived-in rooms, then we’ve got news for you: that’s a bad idea! Here’s why closing vents isn’t doing you any favors – and why it’s actually making things worse. Want a better solution? Read on!
Closing Vents Makes Your AC Work Harder
Your air conditioner blower is designed to deliver a certain amount of air against a certain amount of pressure. When you close vents, it forces the blower to push against a higher pressure than it was designed to do. That can result in various unpleasant and unintended consequences.
In a variable speed system, higher pressure can force the motor to ramp up in an attempt to maintain proper airflow. A motor working overtime translates into higher energy bills – the exact opposite of what you set out to achieve.
In a single-speed system, you’ll simply end up with lower airflow overall, which means less cooler air where you want it. You’ll end up being even less comfortable, or turning up the AC to compensate, which will naturally result in even higher bills.
Closing Vents Can Damage Ducts
Closing vents doesn’t stop the air from being pushed through the ducts *to* the vents, it just blocks the air from coming *out* of the vents. So where does all that air go?
In some cases, it may end up going right out through leaks in the ducts. In other cases, the pressure can actually *cause* leaks where there were none before.
Air that leaks out of ducts into walls, attics, and crawl spaces, is air that isn’t entering your home. That means less cool air reaching the remaining rooms and higher energy bills as your system tries harder to maintain the temperature you desire.
Closing Vents Puts More Wear And Tear On Your System
Restricting airflow will make your AC work harder, and that means more wear and tear that can lead to breakdowns.
Improper airflow can cause your air handler to overheat, or your evaporator coil to freeze. It can result in a cracked heat exchanger, which can also have the dangerous consequence of allowing carbon monoxide into your home. And it can damage the compressor, the single most costly component to replace should you need to.
Instead of saving money, you’ll not only be spending more on energy bills, but you may also be giving yourself substantially bigger bills for repairs or premature replacement.
Better Ways To Combat Rising Energy Costs
Nobody wants to see that bottom line increasing every summer, but the truth is it usually does! If you’re serious about saving on energy bills, then stop closing vents – you’re literally achieving the opposite of what you want.
Then consider what other options are available.
If you’ve got an older, less-efficient system, it might be time for an upgrade. Yes, you’ll need to invest in a new system but you’re going to have to do that – probably sooner rather than later – anyway. Installing a modern, high efficiency unit can reduce energy bills substantially – by as much s 50%!
Ask your HVAC contractor about rebates from local utilities or state agencies. You can often find some good incentives to switch from old units to high-efficiency ones.
If you struggle with areas that are too hot/too cold and you close vents to mitigate that, consider installing a multi-zone unit. Then instead of closing vents in certain rooms or areas of your home, you can literally turn the entire system off until you need it.
If you’re not-so-great about maintenance, now is the time to change that. Failing to maintain your system can result in as much as a 15% drop in efficiency year over year. We bet you don’t even need to do the math to get an idea of how bad that is for your energy bills.
While you’re at it, make sure you change filters on schedule. Failing to do that can be just as bad as closing vents in terms of airflow and energy usage.
If you’re looking to save on energy costs then start turning off or unplugging electronics when they’re not in use. Computers, TVs and other electronics can generate a lot of heat, which makes your AC work harder to cool the room. This tactic is a double bonus – not only will you be using less energy to cool, but you’ll save on the electricity it takes to run all those electronics in the first place.
If you struggle with high energy bills or uneven cooling in your home, stop closing vents and call us instead! We’ll visit your home for a free evaluation and estimate to repair, replace or upgrade your system so that it runs efficiently and effectively.