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In Miami, the average household pays around $271 a month for electricity. A larger percentage of this is going to come from the energy needed to keep your home cool and dry throughout the year. Air conditioning is essential in Miami’s heat and humidity, but it’s also an expense as it runs 24/7 throughout the year.

When the economy proves challenging with higher interest rates, fuel costs, and grocery bills becoming harder to afford, lowering your energy consumption is important. But you can’t sacrifice comfort for lower bills, and you might run out of other ways to reduce your expenses, so your focus turns to reducing your air conditioning bills.

Many homeowners make the mistake of falling for a few myths regarding lowering their air conditioning bills. Our tips will help you determine what you can do to save energy and what is a myth that proves to do more harm than good.

Five Myths and Their Realities

Here are five of the biggest myths out there.

Closing Off Vents in All Unused Rooms Lowers Your Bills

You’ve probably heard that you should close every vent in your home unless you’re in that room. It helps keep cold air centralized in the room you’re in. 

That can lead to your system working inefficiently. You have ducts traveling to each floor anyway, and shutting every vent creates a build-up of air pressure. It can create leaks in the ducts. If you have to close a vent, limit it to one or maybe two, but try not to get into this habit. It’s better to run fans and turn up the temperature a little higher

Cranking Up the Temperature During the Day Reduces Bills

When you’re at work, why not turn your system up to 82 or higher? You’re not there, so your home doesn’t have to be as cool. This isn’t as effective as you might think. When you get home, you turn it back to 72 and the AC system now has to cool the home 10 degrees. It’s extra work. 

Choose a temperature like 78 and leave it there. Or, keep temperature changes to a smaller difference, such as 78 when you’re home and 80 when you’re not.

Installing an Oversized Air Conditioner Cools Rooms Faster and Lowers Electricity Consumption

Getting a system that’s way too big for your home will cool rooms faster than normal, so your system turns off quickly. That helps you save on energy bills, right? What happens is that your system turns on and off, on and off, etc. The rapid starts and stops require excess electricity for the start-up, and the components wear out quickly from the repetitive starts and stops. 

Installing an Undersized Air Conditioner Leads to Lower Bills

Some people believe that a system that’s a little too small for the home will cost less money to run because it’s smaller. The problem is that it’s struggling to effectively cool your home. It runs constantly without ever cycling down and turning off. Electricity is constantly being used.

The other concern is that the system is running non-stop, which is going to wear out the components faster. You’ll be replacing the entire central AC system long before you planned. 

Using Fans and Ceiling Fans With Your AC Wastes Electricity

While floor fans and ceiling fans do draw additional electricity, they help circulate the air and cool your skin. Because of this, you may be able to turn the AC a degree or two higher, which uses less energy when cooling your home as your system doesn’t have to run as often.

The Best Ways to Lower Miami Electricity Bills

Now that we’ve debunked common myths about air conditioning and energy consumption, what are the best ways to lower electricity bills in Miami?

Keep Your Home Shaded

Consider the sunniest areas of your home. How much time are those rooms in direct sunlight? If it’s hours, that sunlight is warming up your house. Honeycomb blinds you can pull up and down as needed provide insulation from the intense sun. Insulating, light-blocking blinds also help.

You can also shade your home with trees that cut the sunlight. Be mindful of the extent of the tree’s root system when planting them. Roots can extend outward one foot for every inch of trunk width. A 6-inch trunk could have roots spreading out 6 feet. 

Awnings over windows and patio doors also help. Make them retractable so that you can draw them in on windy days or during storms.

Improve the Insulation 

Your home should be as airtight as possible to keep cool air from escaping and hot air from coming inside. Attic insulation is important. In Miami-Dade, R-30 or better is recommended. You may want to also look into insulation in your walls or crawlspace, especially if there is animal or water damage in any of it.

How can you tell if you have adequate insulation? Put on protective gloves and a mask and use a ruler to measure the thickness of the insulation in your attic. Multiply that by these numbers, depending on the type of insulation it is.

  • Cellulose or cotton fiber – 3 to 3.7
  • Closed-cell spray polyurethane – 5.8 to 6.8
  • Expanded polystyrene foam insulation – 3.6 to 4.4
  • Extruded polystyrene – 5
  • Fiberglass fiber – 2.2 to 4
  • Mineral wool fiber – 2.8 to 3.7
  • Open-cell low-density polyurethane foam insulation– 3.6 to 3.8
  • Perlite fiber – 2.5 to 3.3
  • Polyisocyanurate – 6 to 6.5

For example, if you measure 5 inches of fiberglass insulation, you have an R-factor of 11 to 20. It’s not enough. As attic insulation is the most important when it comes to heat loss, focus on improving that area.

If you have older doors or windows, consider upgrading them to energy-efficient double- or triple-paned windows. At a bare minimum, add weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps.

Don’t Ignore New Noises

You’ve been heaving a hissing noise when your AC system runs. As it’s not too loud, you’re not concerned. When you hear new noises, don’t ignore them. They can be an early indicator of major issues and that drives up bills. Address them when they’re just starting to keep repair bills lower and avoid having your system fail completely.

Have Your AC System Serviced Regularly

Arrange to have a Miami AC specialist inspect and maintain your system each year. If a lot of people live in your home or you have a large number of dogs or cats, more frequent cleanings and inspections are While you should replace air filters and remove dust and debris from interior grates and the outdoor unit, an AC technician checks that the system is pressurized correctly, cleans the coils, checks the ducts, and makes sure there are no impending issues.

All Year Cooling is an expert on Miami air conditioning systems. Schedule a cleaning with our technicians and receive an honest, timely inspection and cleaning that will alert you to any current or potential areas of concern. We’ll help you understand your options and ensure your system is working to the best of its ability.

All Year Cooling