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9 Ways to Maximize Your A/C Efficiency

Tips to help you maximize the efficiency of your air conditioner, extend the life of your unit, and save energy without sacrificing comfort.

Upgrading and maintaining your air conditioner can mean big savings on your bill over time, but you can also take advantage of incentives now. 

When it’s time for a new air conditioning system, our Quality Installation program ensures your new air conditioner is sized properly for your home, and makes sure its installation follows guidelines set by ENERGY STAR — saving you the most energy and money. You'll also qualify for a rebate of up to $750. 

You can maximize savings on cooling by maintaining your air conditioner system regularly and following these usage guidelines.

1. Seal A/C Ducts
Having your heating and cooling ducts tested and sealed by a qualified contractor can help you save up to $300 on annual cooling and heating costs. Ordinary duct tape is not recommended — instead use mastics (sealants), sheet metal screws, or metal and plastic bands

2. Raise the Thermostat
Turn your air conditioner off or your thermostat up when you’re not home. If you raise the thermostat 10-15 degrees on days when you’re out, you may be able to save up to 5-15 percent of your energy bills.

3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats let you select appropriate times to cool your home. Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when the air conditioner is in use. For every degree you set your air conditioner thermostat cooler than 78 degrees, your energy use increases by 8 percent.

4. Insulate and Weatherize
Adequate insulation and weatherization may allow you to raise the temperature setting of your thermostat and still remain comfortably cool.

5. Check and Change Filters
Change the disposable filters or clean the permanent filters on your air conditioning unit on a monthly basis.

6. Install Your Room A/C in the Shade
Room air conditioners tend to work best when kept out of direct sunlight. If possible, install units on the north facing side of your home, or, if you install on the west or south facing sides, use shade trees and other passive cooling measures to keep the unit out of direct sunlight.

7. Keep Your Compressor Cool and Clean
If possible, put the compressor (the part that dumps waste heat outside) in a cool, shaded place. In addition, make sure to clean weeds and debris away from the unit, and make sure to keep the coils on the back of the unit clean.

8. Get Annual Inspections
Have a licensed heating and cooling professional conduct a thorough cooling system inspection and cleaning once a year. 

9. Avoid Peak Hours
Turn off or cycle your central air conditioner during peak daytime hours, when electricity is most expensive. Learn about "demand response" program options such as Save Power Days and the Summer Discount Plan.

Content in part adapted with permission from Rocky Mountain Institute’s Space Cooling Home Energy Briefs