The days are warming up and it will soon be time to run on the air conditioner. I love the fresh air coming in through the windows and I put off turning on the air conditioner for a long as possible (much to my spouse’s dismay.) If you haven’t done so already, this is the time to call for your air conditioner maintenance annual service before we are in the midst of “the dog days of summer” and you have a problem. But this post is not about servicing your air conditioner.
Have you ever thought about what it takes to run your air conditioner? When you compare running your central air conditioner to using a household fan or ceiling fan, the difference is phenomenal. In today’s economy we are all looking for ways to save a few dollars.
Factors that affect running an air conditioner
Just a few of the factors that will affect the cost of running your central air conditioner are
- geographical local of your home
- amount shading around your home
- amount of work your air conditioner has to do to keep your home cool
All of these will affect the cost. Here in Myrtle Beach we can have boiling summers (and they are predicting one this year) and your air conditioner will have to work overtime to maintain a certain comfort level.
If you are looking for a new home, you will want to ask for copies of the electric bill from any home on which you are seriously considering making an offer. You should be able to obtain this information from your local utility company. Be sure and ask for the last three years as the weather conditions from year to year will make a big difference on the cost of running the air conditioner.
Another factor that affects the cost of your air conditioner is the efficiency rating of the unit. Almost all appliances have been rated and your air conditioner will have a tag when you purchased the unit stating the amount of electricity that it will use. If you are in need of a new air conditioner, you will want to look for one that uses minimal electricity which will save you money. If you unit is over 10 years old or if you are not sure of the efficiency rating of your system, you will want to contact a HVAC specialists to get a quote on a new system. Over time, upgrading your air conditioner can pay for itself in lower electric bills.
The size of the air conditioning unit versus the house-cooling load is another factor to consider. All central air conditioners come in various sizes and each size will state the amount of space it is specifically designed to manage. You will need to consider the amount of space in your home that you want to cool if you are considering a new air conditioner. Even though a larger unit will cost more, it will save you money in the long run.
This can make a HUGE difference in your utility bill – where you set your thermostat. (This can be the cause of major house hold disagreements!) It is no secret that a higher setting will result in your air conditioner not running as frequently. By keeping your thermostat above the 78 degree level, you can save up to 20% in cooling costs.
Many residents in the Myrtle Beach area are transplants from northern states. In the northeast most homes do not use heat pumps like those installed in Myrtle Beach homes. Us northerners are used to cutting back the thermostat when we are not home for extended periods of time like while at work and then kicking on the air conditioner when we arrive home. With a heat pump this habit will not save money – it will actually cost you more. The reason is the coils in the heat pump unit have to work harder to bring the air temperature up to a cooler level cause a rise in the use of electricity. The most cost effective use of your air conditioner is to set a level where most family members are comfortable and leave it there.
Of course the cost of electricity locally will influence you bill but there isn’t much you can do about that. However, you can control costs with a few simple changes.
Running an air conditioner versus running a ceiling or oscillating fan
Let’s take a simple example. Running a three ton air conditioner for approximately 8 hours a day for a total of 15 days in the month with an average kilowatt per hour rate of 17 cents (you can get this number from your electric bill) will cost around $98. Keep in mind that doesn’t include running the dishwasher, the clothes dryer, the refrigerator and stove or the lights. Just the air conditioner.
Compare this to running a ceiling fan on medium speed for that same 8 hours but instead we will use a full 30 days – the cost is less than $2! What a savings.
What you can do to lower your electric bill
- Inspect and either clean or replace your air conditioner filter on a regular basis
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees (or consider a waterless water heater.)
- Wash on full loads of clothes and use the energy cycle on the dryer (better yet use a solar dry – hang your clothes on an old fashioned clothes line.)
- Replace older incandescent light bulbs with the new fluorescent lamps – you will save an average of 75% on your light bill.
- Caulk windows, doors and pipes where air can seep out of your home. The spring is a good time of year to call your local handyman and have them go over your home and look for air leaks before the heat of the summer.
- Have your ducts cleaned and tested for leakage. A leak in an air duct can cause up to a 25% reduction in the efficiency of your air conditioner.
Now is the time to give Air Comfort Heating and Cooling a call. We can give your air condition system a complete maintenance check. If you system is over 10 years old or if you are experienced a problem, we can give you an estimate on a new system and show you how you can save money with a newer, energy efficient air conditioner.
Air Comfort Heating & Cooling
4555 Highway 17 Bypass South
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Conway, Loris, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach, Briarcliffe Acres, Surfside Beach, Bucksport, Forestbrook, Garden City, Little River, Red Hill, Socastee, Carolina Forest, Cherry Grove, Cool Spring, Fantasy Harour, Gallivants Ferry, Green Sea, Longs, Pine Island, Springmaid Beach