Although the official start of summer is still over a month away, here in Houston we are already starting to feel the heat and humidity. And sure, the summer brings with it a lot of fun, but it can also bring high monthly utility bills. The average cost for electricity in Houston in July is a couple hundred dollars, higher than any other major city in the country – mostly because of our air conditioning usage. But if you haven’t prepared your home and AC unit to operate efficiently under peak conditions, you can end up paying double, or even triple the average cost. UGH!
But don’t panic yet, because there are plenty of things you can do to keep your bills low. Jon Harris, Senior Director of Operations and Sales for John Moore Services offers some great tips that will help keep your house cool and save you some money.
Don’t set your thermostat too high or too low when leaving the house for the day.Most people think that setting their thermostat to a high temperature will help keep their energy usage and monthly bills down. But that is not true. If you set your thermostat to 80 degrees and turn it down to around 74 degrees when you get home, you are causing your unit to work really hard. It will run constantly until your whole house reaches 74 degrees, which could take hours in our Houston heat. Harris recommends keeping your thermostat set in the range of 76-78 degrees, that way it won’t have to work as hard and you will use less energy when you get home.
“If you really want to save money I recommend installing a programmable thermostat. With all the technology we have today it makes for a great investment,” said Harris. “It allows you to change the temperature of your home from anywhere, your desk, car, of even another state by using your smart phone or computer. That way you can adjust the temperature setting of your home while you are at the office, and when you walk in your front door your house will be nice and cool.”
Houston area consumers can also keep their monthly electricity bills down by shopping for an electricity provider. If you’ve never shopped or haven’t shopped in a while, check your bill to see if you are paying a month-to-month variable rate. Fixed rate plans are recommended by most people in the electricity industry.
Keep the doors to rooms inside your house open. In many houses certain rooms cool faster than other rooms. By keeping bedroom doors open you are helping the air inside your home circulate and recondition all air inside the home, and doing this will keep your home cooler.
Don’t forget to change your air filters. Changing your air filters is important, but it is especially important during the summer when the need for optimal airflow is so necessary. Dirty air filters restrict airflow and put stress on your whole HVAC system. When your HVAC system is stressed, it’s not running efficiently and is using more energy than it should be using. During the summer it is a good idea to change your regular air filters once a month, and change your whole house filters that are attached to your AC unit twice a year.
Turn ceiling fans off when you leave a room. Ceiling fans are great because they help circulate airflow, but they actually do nothing when it comes to cooling down a room. According to Harris, ceiling fans only give you the sensation of being cool, so when you leave a room you should always turn the fan off. By keeping it on you are wasting energy.
Have a professional inspect your ductwork. The number one cause of higher energy bills is related leaky ductwork. In fact, you can lose up to 28% of your cool air because of small holes and leaks. If you have leaks and you don’t realize it, you are paying a lot of money to air condition your attic, and no one wants that! Having a professional come out before the start of summer to inspect your ductwork can end up saving you thousands of dollars.
Make sure your home has enough insulation. Attic insulation acts as a blanket for your house. It helps to keep your home warm during the winter and cool during the summer by not allowing air to escape through the roof. On average, insulation needs to be added every 10-12 years. So if your home is a certain age, this is something to consider doing.
“If you are going to add more insulation to your home, I recommend adding blown in insulation rather than roll out,” said Harris. “Blown in insulation is more efficient because it covers hard to reach areas and fills in gaps that roll out insulation isn’t able to reach. All new homes are built with blow-in insulation now because of the fact that it is more energy efficient.”
Check your doors and windows for leaks. Just like leaks in your ductwork, leaks in doors and windows amount to a significant loss of cool air, which is why it is important to have them checked annually for leaks. Caulk, which is used to seal small holes around the perimeter of your doors and windows, has a shelf life and needs to be replaced at least once a year. Sealing up all leaks will insure that air conditioned air stays inside your home.
Try the John Moore AC Revive™ Program
“We have developed a 3-part program at John Moore Services that will prolong the life of your AC unit while saving you money. It starts with an AC inspection to make sure all parts are working correctly. Then we professionally inject a new lubricant into your refrigerant system. It cleans the heat exchanger to cool your home faster while using less energy,” said Harris. “And the last part is the compressor saver, which helps boost your ac unit to start in a matter of seconds. This is especially important because the biggest chunk of energy usage happens when your unit starts up.”
If you want to enjoy your summer and not have to worry about high monthly bills, then making sure your home and air conditioner are prepared is the only way. If you think your home or ac unit needs a little extra TLC before summer begins, call the HVAC experts at John Moore Services. We can diagnose and fix any problem in your home, and will always go the extra mile to make sure your home stays cool all summer long.