Ever wonder if you can really save money by keeping your air conditioner on auto instead of adjusting the temperature yourself all day? You probably set it and forget it most days, going about your business in whatever degree of comfort your home climate provides. But have you considered that automatic mode might be sucking up more energy and costing you extra on your utility bills?
We’re diving into the details on whether auto AC settings actually help your wallet or just create more work for your cooling system. Get ready to take control of your indoor climate and keep more green in your pocket.
What Does AC Auto Mode Mean?
Auto mode on your AC means the thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to optimal levels based on the current indoor and outdoor temperatures.
The air conditioning system monitors the temperature in your home and outdoors to determine how much it needs to run to keep your place comfortable.
Does Keeping Your AC on Auto Mode Really Save Money?
Keeping your AC in auto mode potentially saves you money, but there're some factors to consider. When it's in auto mode, the air conditioner thermostat makes small adjustments to keep the temperature in your desired range based on conditions inside and outside your home. This could be more energy efficient than manually turning the AC on and off.
When in auto mode, the AC makes gradual changes to the temperature which helps avoid spikes in energy usage. The AC isn’t suddenly turning on full blast but instead slowly ramping up its cooling power. This means the AC runs at lower power for longer which saves energy.
Adapts to Weather Changes
Auto mode allows your AC to automatically adjust based on weather conditions. If it’s hotter outside, the AC starts cooling earlier and run longer to keep up. When the weather is cool, air conditioners won’t have to work as much to maintain your desired temperature. This adaptive control can help reduce over-cooling which could waste even more energy.
However, auto mode sometimes ends up running the AC more than necessary. It can also be less responsive to sudden indoor temperature changes like turning on the oven or opening your front door on a hot day. For most efficient use, you may need to manually adjust the thermostat at times or switch out of auto mode based on your needs and activities.
Other Tips to Maximize Energy Efficiency With AC
Some other tricks could also help lower your energy usage and monthly utility bills when running the AC.
- Program the thermostat to automatically increase the temperature a couple degrees when you're away from home or sleeping. Even increasing it by 5-7 degrees makes a difference. A programmable thermostat allows you to set customized schedules to maximize comfort when you're home but save energy when you're not.
- Make sure ceiling fans are running counterclockwise to push air down in the summer. Ceiling fans can make it feel up to 4 degrees cooler, allowing you to raise the thermostat temperature by several degrees without discomfort.
- Keep the AC unit well-maintained for maximum efficiency. Clean or replace air filters once a month or as needed. Dirty, clogged filters reduce airflow and make the AC work harder to cool your home. Have an HVAC technician service your AC unit once a year to clean coils and ensure all parts are in working order.
- Seal and insulate air leaks and ductwork. Add weatherstripping around doors and windows and insulation in the attic to improve cooling efficiency. Seal any holes or damage in air ducts carrying cooled air through your home.
- Keep curtains closed during daylight hours to prevent heat from entering windows. Open windows at night to allow warm air to escape, then close them in the morning to keep coolness inside.
- Turn on ceiling your fan or air conditioner fan in rooms you're using and turn them off when you leave. Only cool the spaces you're occupying to avoid wasting energy on unused areas.
Using your AC efficiently doesn't require sacrificing comfort. With some simple adjustments and smart strategies, you can stay cool all summer while lowering energy usage and costs. Keeping your AC on auto temperature scheduling and incorporating additional tips maximizes savings without minimizing enjoyment of your home's climate control as well as energy efficiency.
Ways to Save on Home Energy (Other Than Your AC)
While one of the biggest energy sucks in most homes is the heating and cooling system, your AC system isn’t the only thing driving up your utility bills.
- Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. It’s an easy habit to get into and can save a lot over time. Use LED or CFL bulbs which consume less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Unplug chargers, laptops, gaming consoles and other devices when not charging or using them. They draw power even when idle and not charging. These “vampire” loads can account for up to 10% of your electric bill.
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full. This cuts down on the number of cycles needed and saves energy, water and money. Use the air fluff or spin cycle in the dryer instead of heat when possible. Hang clothes to air dry when you can.
- Keep the thermostat at a consistent temperature. Lower it in the winter or raise it in the summer by just a few degrees when you’re away or sleeping. Programmable thermostats can automate temperature changes for you.
- Turn off electronics like TVs, stereos, and computers when not using them. They draw power even when idle or in sleep mode. Unplug them completely when going away on vacation.
Making some small changes in how you use energy in your home can really add up. You’ll start seeing lower utility bills in no time and enjoy an energy efficient home.
Low-Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP)
If you're on a budget, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) could be able to help cover or reduce costs of your AC or other utility bills. LIHEAP offers grants and assistance for low-income families to help make energy costs more affordable.
Depending on your income, family size, and the type of fuel you use, you could qualify for bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization services, or heating and cooling equipment repairs or replacement. Payment assistance helps cover part of your AC or utility bills. Energy crisis assistance provides emergency bill payment assistance if your AC or other utility service is shut off or about to be disconnected.
Weatherization services involve improving the energy efficiency of your home which can lower your AC and utility costs overall. This may include adding insulation, sealing and repairing air leaks, and ensuring your AC unit is running as efficiently as possible. In some cases, LIHEAP may also help repair or replace inefficient or broken AC units for those who qualify.
To determine if you’re eligible for LIHEAP benefits, you must meet certain income requirements which vary by state and family size. Apply with your local community agency or energy assistance office.
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