Whether you’re upgrading your current home or building a new home, you should carefully weigh the energy-efficient upgrades and designs that are worth the expense when it comes to lowering your AC bills. What are the best home design ideas for AC efficiency?
Install Ceiling Fans
Whether you’re building a new home or swapping a light fixture, consider installing ceiling fans in your home. A ceiling fan helps circulate the cooled air, which prevents having hot pockets of air near the ceiling, which could heat up rooms upstairs.
If you can’t install ceiling fans, running floor fans to move air around is a good second choice. They’re not easy to find, but some companies make end tables with built-in fans to help circulate air. If you’re short on space, these tables are great.
Aim for Pale Colors
Dark colors attract UV and infrared lights. You might love the look of dark walnut flooring, but it can absorb heat on a sunny day. That heat radiates into your home, making your room warmer than it needs to be. Paler colors will help keep your room cooler. Wall and floor colors should be lighter.
If you really want darker colors, make sure you add light-blocking blinds or shades that help keep the room cooler. When the sun is coming in a window, draw the blinds until the direction of the sun shifts to the other side of the house. On a sweltering day, you may just want to keep the blinds drawn all day.
You don’t have to have room darkening curtains. Honeycomb blinds are designed to have a honeycomb design that traps air and creates insulation between the hot sun and your room. It’s a cost-effective option for attractive window coverings that keep out the heat.
Dark furnishings also attract and emit the sun’s heat. If you have a dark sofa, end tables, entertainment center, etc., make sure you position them to be out of the sun.
Invest in Smart Technology
Pay the extra money for smart thermostats. If you can control the temperature within your home from an app, you can leave the thermostat a bit higher when you’re out and have your home cooled back down for your return. If you’re at work, you can set the thermostat to a timer to have the thermostat turn up and down when you leave and when you return.
Put Appliances in Well-Ventilated Areas
Kitchen appliances give off a lot of heat. So do desktop computers. Make sure they’re in open areas with plenty of airflow. If you have an oven that’s next to your refrigerator, the heat of the oven will make the refrigerator work harder. Plus, the heat coming off both appliances will heat up a neighboring family room, which makes your AC work harder.
When possible, try to keep appliances in an open area with a lot of airflow that’s away from the main living areas. If that’s not possible, aim for a kitchen exhaust fan that vents outside the home and run that when the oven is on.
Is It Time for New Windows?
If you have older windows, they’re not going to be as efficient as new models. Today’s energy-efficient windows can have a coating that keeps UV lighting out of your home. In the summer, it keeps the sun from heating up your rooms, which lowers your energy costs.
Double or triple pane windows have air or gas pockets between the glass panes that keep warm air from escaping the windows when it’s cooler outside. The pockets of air or gas can also help buffer outdoor noises if you live in a busy area. While these windows cost more, the savings in energy makes it worthwhile.
While shopping for new windows, look into motorized smart blinds that are remote or voice controlled. Some can be set on timers that automatically drop the blind when the sun is on that side of the house. Another option is a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window. When turned off, the liquid crystal fills the space between the window panes and blocks the sun from getting through. PDLC windows can keep up to 70% of the sun’s rays out of your home.
Other options include:
- Electrochromic – Uses voltage to change the window’s opacity and block out UV light
- Photochromic – Uses light exposure to change the opacity, think of the technology in photochromic sunglasses
- Micro Blind – Tiny metal blinds are inserted between window panes and are lowered and raised as needed
- Suspended Particle – Uses an electrical charge to change the color of a liquid that’s suspended between the two window panes
- Thermochromic – Uses heat to change the color of the window glass
Don’t Build a DIY Central Air System
You may have the technical skill to install ducts and put in a central AC unit, but do you have the right math skills? If you put in a system that’s undersized or oversized, it will wear out faster. As tempting as it is to put in a system that’s too big for your square footage, you’ll actually cause an issue with the AC system frequently turning on and off as the target room temperature is reached quickly. As it turns on and off repeatedly, the fans and motors also shut on and off and wear out fast.
Always hire a professional AC installer to measure your home. A professional considers underlying factors like the number of people in your home, the number of windows, and the sun exposure to correctly size your system.
Add insulation to your home’s attic, garage, and basement walls, if you have a basement. If you have a crawlspace, make sure there’s a vapor barrier and insulation that helps keep the cold air from escaping.
If your home was built years ago, have the insulation checked to see if it’s time to add more. Insulation does diminish due to rodent activity and exposure to UV rays, humidity, and other environmental factors. Have your insulation inspected and improved when needed.
Get Your System Cleaned and Inspected
Your home’s design features and furniture placement can only do so much. You need to keep your system running as expected, too.
When you have central air, make sure you have it cleaned regularly. The general rule is to have the system professionally cleaned and evaluated every two years. You should check and change the filter every month or two, depending on how much use it gets and how many pets you own.
When you hire a professional air conditioning installer and technician, they’re doing more than cleaning your system. They will check for leaks and that the refrigerant levels are correct. They’ll check the airflow in the evaporator coil and make sure the system is operating properly.
All electrical connections are checked and tightened if needed. If there are any belts or motors in need of lubrication or repairs, that’s taken care of. The fins are cleaned, evaporator coils are cleaned, and you’re left with a system that does what you expect it to do.
When should you schedule a cleaning and inspection? Ideally, arrange it during the slower winter months. When it is hot outside, AC systems are running at peak levels. If there’s a breakdown, AC technicians need to get systems up and running. Cleanings are easier to arrange when it’s the off-season.
Schedule an AC system evaluation and cleaning with All Year Cooling, Miami and South Florida’s best air conditioning repair and installation service. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of customers since 1973 to ensure their systems are running efficiently. We’ll let you know if there are problems and discuss your options.
Our technicians undergo regular training to ensure they’re up-to-date with the latest AC technology. When you call our A+ air conditioning technicians, you have peace of mind that your system is performing effectively.