Purchase a high-efficiency unit – A new high-efficiency air conditioner can reduce home cooling costs and energy usage by 20 to 50 percent. If you’re shopping for a central air conditioner, look for SEER ratings of 14 or higher.
Buy the right size unit – Air conditioners that are too large or small for an area will run inefficiently, waste energy, and wear out more quickly then an AC that has been sized properly by your HVAC contractor. In addition, they don’t dehumidify well if they are constantly turning on and off.
Add insulation – Keep warm air in and cold air out by improving your insulation and closing up any gaps where outside air may enter (around windows, doors, switch plates, etc.). Also, insulating furnace ducts and hot water pipes reduces wasted heat.
Program your thermostat – You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. If you do not have a programmable thermostat, look for the ENERGY STAR® label when you’re shopping for one.
Get an attic fan – If your home feels warm upstairs, chances are you are running your air conditioner more to combat the heat. An attic fan reduces the temperature in the unfinished attic area, and makes your home a lot cooler from the top down. Today’s attic fans are quiet, inexpensive to operate, and long lasting- PLUS they pay for themselves in about one year.
Install ceiling fans – The breeze created by a good ceiling fan can eliminate the need to run your AC on cooler days, and will allow you to set the thermostat a few degrees higher on the days you will be running it. Ceiling fans also help distribute warm air in the winter, helping to reduce energy costs.
Increase your attic insulation – Adding more insulation is one of the best investments you can make. It will provide a return on investment in a matter of a few months to a few years and put cash in your pocket in the coming years as electricity gets increasingly expensive.
Seal and insulate ductwork – Poorly sealed ductwork can drastically reduce the cooling efficiency of your air conditioning system, as can ductwork that runs trough un-insulated spaces like attics, garages, and crawl spaces.
Install programmable thermostats- Multiple zone, programmable thermostats help reduce energy consumption since you wont have to remember to turn the AC up or down. In addition, every degree higher you set your AC will reduce your home cooling costs 3 to 5 percent.
Avoid unwanted sources of heat – Electric freezers, cloths dryers, dishwashers, and ovens all pump heat into your home. Move them to garages or basements, or use them at cooler parts of the day to avoid heating your home unnecessarily. Also, shade east and west facing windows to reduce unwanted passive solar heat gain.