Every year those energy bills creep up. And every year, people all over New Jersey and elsewhere struggle to find ways to reduce them.
Sometimes the increase has nothing to do with you – the cost of everything, from energy prices to the cost of a loaf of bread, go up over time even though our habits and behaviors remain the same. Other times it has everything to do with you. Sometimes you can do things that result in even higher bills. Sometimes the things you do to save money can backfire and make it even worse!
If your energy bills are higher than usual, see if one of these reasons is the culprit.
You Try To Cool Your Home Faster
Ever come home from a day at the beach or a long tennis match and feel uncomfortably warm in your home? You want to get cool fast – so you turn the AC down nice and low.
The problem with doing that is that it absolutely, positively does *not* cool your home any faster. All it does is make your AC run longer and work harder to reach the lower temperature you set. More work equals more money, and you’re not even achieving the result you wanted in the first place.
Take a cool shower and leave the AC at a reasonable temperature. Your wallet will thank you later.
You Don’t Use A Programmable Thermostat
If you don’t program your thermostat to maintain a higher temperature when you’re not home then you could be paying as much as 15% more for energy than you need to.
Leaving the thermostat set to a single temperature all the time is a surefire way to ensure that you’ll be paying more, and for no good reason. After all, what is your AC cooling if nobody is home? With a programmable thermostat you can adjust the temperature accordingly.
Better yet, choose a wifi thermostat for granular and real-time control. If you leave the AC on while you run out for a quick errand, but wind up taking a detour that doesn’t put you home until much later, you can adjust the temperature right from your smart phone. That way whether you plan to be out or not, you’ll always have access to the AC to make fine-tuned adjustments when you need them.
You Don’t Change Filters When You Need To
Dirty air filters restrict airflow, and restricted airflow makes your system work harder. From there you’re only a billing cycle away from an unpleasant surprise.
Changing air filters regularly is one of the top things you can do to improve your system’s efficiency and help it live longer. But what is “regularly?”
As a general rule of thumb, filters should be changed every three months. But that may be more often if you have pets that shed, or other environmental conditions (like living near a construction site or dusty road) that can cause filters to clog faster.
If you’re not sure what interval is best for you, check your filter every 30 days after replacing it. A fine layer of dust and debris is ok, but anything beyond that, especially if you see pet hair or lint buildup, means it needs to be changed. Change it as soon as it needs to be and then stick to that schedule.
You Don’t Get Professional Maintenance
You may look at the extra cost of a maintenance contract as an unnecessary expense. But neglecting to maintain your system is going to cost you even more.
When you don’t maintain your system, it loses efficiency – up to 15% each year. Less efficiency means more work and more work means higher bills. It’s that simple!
Another high-cost consequence of failing to maintain your system is that it is unlikely to last as long as it could. That means you’ll be repairing or even replacing it long before you should be. Worse, failing to have your system maintained may void your warranty, which will really hurt if something goes wrong.
Your Other Appliances Are Old
Wait, aren’t we talking about air conditioners? How does your clanky old refrigerator figure into this?
Turns out that if you have old, inefficient appliances elsewhere in the house, you’re probably making your AC work harder. Those appliances are likely to throw more heat which increases the heat in your home, and that means that you could be lowering the temperature further to compensate. Either way, your AC is working harder to maintain it.
Upgrading old appliances may not be the least expensive short term fix, but it is the best one long term. Not only will you be saving on AC costs but you’ll be saving on the energy costs to run those old energy-hogs. Check for rebates and incentives for installing high-efficiency units. It may not be as expensive in the end as you expect.
You Run The HVAC Fan All The Time
There are valid reasons to run the fan all the time, including keeping air cleaner to reduce allergies or respiratory problems. But that comes with a cost, namely in the amount of your monthly energy bill.
If you don’t have a very good reason to run the fan, or if you put it on temporarily and then forgot to turn it off, then change it to “auto”. That can save you several hundred dollars per year alone.
You Run Ceiling Fans Thinking They Will Save Money
You’ve probably heard that using a ceiling fan can help keep AC costs in check. In fact, we’ve advised you to do just that! But there’s a caveat. Running ceiling fans only helps if you subsequently raise the temperature on your thermostat.
A ceiling fan makes higher temperatures feel cooler by blowing air across your skin. That means that if you normally set your thermostat to 72 without a fan, you can set it to 77 with a fan on and feel just as comfortable. The less your AC has to work, the more money you’ll save. But leaving the thermostat the same *and* running a fan is just multiplying costs.
And don’t forget to turn fans off when you’re not in the room! Much the same way that you don’t need the AC to be blasting when you’re not at home, you don’t need fans running when you’re not there, either. Fans don’t cool the room – they work by cooling *you*. So if you’re not there, you’re literally blowing money away with each rotation.
You Close Vents In Some Rooms To Save Money On Cooling Them
It seems like it makes sense. You hardly use that extra bedroom, so why waste money cooling it when you can close the vents and divert all that cool air to other rooms?
The problem is that closing vents has exactly the opposite effect. It doesn’t divert air, it simply makes your system work harder to combat the higher pressure created by the restricted airflow. Worse, trapped air can be forced out through spaces and leaks in ducts, which means you’re getting even less cool air than usual.
No matter how you slice it, closing vents actually costs you more, and can do harm to your system, too.
If your energy bills are rising and making your internal temperature flare, too, give us a call or contact us online. We’ll visit for a free evaluation and estimate to repair, replace or upgrade equipment to help you keep cool the most efficient way possible.