Maintain your AC system, reduce heat gain, and save energy
4/2/2015 10:14:43 AM
For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL, MN— Before you know it, Minnesotans will want to turn on the air conditioning to escape the summer heat. Spring has sprung and that means it is the perfect time to plan for the summer months ahead. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging people to do necessary maintenance on air conditioning units now so they can be ready when hot weather arrives.
"Before the 90-degree days hit, it’s a good idea to make sure your AC system is working well, and to consider ways to keep the cool air in your home,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Keeping our homes comfortable in the summer months is just as important as in the winter. As hot days near, health and safety issues for the elderly and those with health conditions make home cooling especially important.”
The Home Cooling section of Commerce’s new Home Energy Guide is a good resource to keep homes cool. The guide explains how AC systems work, the importance of maintaining those systems, and the energy- and cost-saving benefits of high efficiency AC units. It also offers a range of ideas to reduce heat and humidity in your home and lower the demand on your AC system.
AC systems should be inspected annually. Contractors will be very busy in the summer months, so book AC inspections in the spring before you actually need air conditioning. Proper maintenance of your AC system will improve its safety and performance, reduce energy use and electric costs, and prolong the life of your system. You can find some “do-it-yourself” tips on AC maintenance in the guide.
The same strategies that keep our homes warm in the winter work to keep heat out in the summer. Air-sealing gaps around attic vents and weather-stripping doors and windows will reduce airflow into the home and keep heat out. Adequate insulation also reduces the flow of heat into the home in summer. If it’s warmer outside than inside, close all windows and doors to reduce heat gain.
There are several things that can be done to minimize the summer sun’s heating effects on your house, including the installation of window awnings over the south-facing windows, or mounting sunscreens over windows to decrease heat gain.
A few changes in our indoor activities can reduce the heat and humidity levels, adding to comfort and saving on air conditioning. Use appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers, and dishwashers in the evening, when it is cooler. Turning off unneeded electronic devices and lighting will also reduce the heat indoors.
For those who don’t have air conditioning, let cooler air in during the cool evenings by opening a lower-level window and open a window at a higher level to let heated air escape.
Fans are one of the most economical ways to cool the most important thing in the home: you. Just as with windchill in the winter, moving air will reduce our skin temperature, especially when evaporation of perspiration is included. Cooling our bodies with a fan means we can turn up the temperature for the AC and save energy overall.
Check with your utility for cooling tips and ways to save on your electric bill. Some utilities offer energy-saver programs with lower rates for off-peak use of air conditioners. Many utilities will offer rebates for installing new high efficiency AC systems.