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7 Ways You Can Lower Your Power Bills

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lower your power bills

Inefficiencies in your HVAC system can raise your power bills significantly. They can also prevent the system from maintaining a comfortable temperature. However, there are numerous ways you can improve energy efficiency and save on energy costs (including signing up for your HVAC contractor’s maintenance program). Some of these methods can reduce your utility bill by as much as 20% to 40%! That adds up quite a bit over time. 

To lower your power bills:

1. Install a New HVAC System

Although not the cheapest option upfront, upgrading your HVAC system can save you a lot in energy costs over time. Older heating and cooling equipment isn’t as efficient as modern systems and loses efficiency as it ages. Newer central AC systems in North Carolina must have a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 14.5. Also, look for high energy-efficiency ratio (EER) products with an Energy Star label.

Aside from high-efficiency central HVAC systems, other alternatives can lower your power bills. These include ductless mini-splits. These eliminate inefficiencies due to duct leaks. Heat pumps are also more efficient; they are reversible, so they provide heating in winter and cooling in summer, transferring heat like a refrigerator to provide comfort.

Additionally, rebates from utility companies and federal tax credits for purchasing certain high-efficiency units can save you money if you qualify for them.

2. Clean the Condensing Unit Coil

When the refrigerant passes through the condenser coil, it releases heat into the air. A coating of dirt, dust, and grime can inhibit heat transfer, reducing system efficiency. It can also prevent the system from properly heating or cooling your home and cause the unit to overheat and shut down. 

To clean the coil, first turn off the power to avoid a shock. You can use a commercial coil cleaner or water and mild detergent to clean AC coils. A garden hose can be used at low pressure to wash off the coil. Spray left and right, starting at the bottom, a few inches at a time, to wash away dirt and debris. A professional can also clean the coils during annual maintenance and take additional steps to improve efficiency, such as straightening fins or sealing a leaky coil.

3. Change the Air Filter Regularly

Just by changing the filter regularly, you can reduce your HVAC unit’s power use by up to 15%.1 Replace the filter as recommended by the equipment manufacturer. Generally, AC filters should be changed every two or three months (more frequently if your home is dusty or you have pets that shed often).

A clogged filter restricts airflow, which can lead to uneven cooling. The system will run longer to compensate, not only leaving parts of your home overly cooled or overly heated but also increasing energy usage. A dirty filter strains the system as well, so it will need to be repaired or replaced more frequently.

4. Choose a Smart Thermostat

Traditional thermostats don’t help much in terms of saving energy. But a programmable or smart model can. The ability to program a thermostat lets you set the temperature at an appropriate level during certain hours, like when you’re at work. A smart thermostat takes it further by allowing you to monitor and adjust it remotely from your smartphone.

Also, set the temperature 7℉ to 10℉ higher in summer or lower in winter to save energy. Consider the thermostat’s location as well. It should be installed out of direct sunlight, on an interior wall, and not near any drafts. 

5. Weatherize Your Home

Taking various steps around your home can help your HVAC system run more efficiently. These include:

  • Seal Air Leaks: Duct leaks waste a great deal of energy, so they should be sealed with aluminum tape, mastic sealant, or via professional methods. Gaps and cracks in walls, around doors, and in window frames can cause air loss; fortunately, these can be easily caulked to make your home more airtight.
  • Improve Insulation: Uninsulated garages, basements, and attics should be insulated to tighten your building’s envelope. If you have old or insufficient insulation, install higher R-value materials. It’s best to hire a professional to determine if you need to add insulation in certain areas or if your entire home should be reinsulated.
  • Get In the Shade: Planting more trees and shrubs outside your home can block the warming effects of sunlight. Generally, plant taller trees on the south side, where the sun’s rays are higher. Lower trees on the east and west sides block the lower morning and afternoon sun. Also, consider covering windows with solar screens, reflective metalized films, and window treatments like curtains and blinds.

6. Install a Ceiling Fan

Running a ceiling fan can allow you to raise the thermostat by about 4℉ and maintain the same comfort level. The fan should run counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter. Windows near the fan should be kept closed. Ceiling fans help improve air circulation and help evaporate sweat from your skin, increasing the effect of evaporative cooling.

7. Schedule an Annual HVAC Tune-Up

One of the most important ways to care for your HVAC system is an annual tune-up. A trained technician will: 

  • Clean major components
  • Lubricate moving parts
  • Tighten belts, loose bolts, and electrical connections 
  • Inspect the blower motor
  • Measure coolant levels and pressure
  • Inspect the drain line
  • Check limit switches and other safety features

Changing the filter and calibrating the thermostat help improve efficiency too and can contribute to lower energy bills. Your HVAC system should be maintained at least once a year (twice a year for heat pumps).

Call QRC for High-Quality HVAC Maintenance

Are your power bills higher than you’d like? These tips can make your energy costs more affordable. Keeping the system clean, scheduling routine maintenance, and upgrading your heating and cooling system, along with sustainable practices, can yield long-term savings. At QRC, our preventative maintenance program includes an extensive checklist that covers every component and function of your HVAC system. To learn more or request maintenance, schedule service online or call (336) 585-8408.