Energy Efficient Homes: Air Conditioning

Energy Efficient Home: Air Conditioning
Photo by Les Harrison, Wakulla County Extension Director

Welcome to the Florida summer!!! Feeling the heat? No pool to cool off in? Running your air conditioner and then feeling blue when the bill arrives? Let’s review some basics in energy-efficient use of your air conditioner. Perhaps you and your family could make some small changes that could result in money being saved. Quick Facts: Did you know that…..

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) account for more than 40% of your utility bill?
  • For every degree setting below 78˚F, you spend up to 8% more in cooling costs?
  • Upgrading your system can reduce your air conditioning costs by a significant amount. Is it time to consider doing so?

Short-term solutions to improve the efficiency of your existing system include…..

  • Set your thermostat at 78˚ F or higher.
  • Use bath and kitchen fans sparingly when the air conditioner is operating.
  • Inspect and clean both the indoor and outdoor coils. The indoor coil in your air conditioner acts as a magnet for dust because it is constantly wetted during the cooling season. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor efficiency. The outdoor coil also must be checked periodically for dirt build-up and cleaned if necessary.
  • Shade east and west windows.
  • Delay heat-generating activities, such as dishwashing and drying clothes in a clothes dryer, until the evening on hot days.
  • During most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day.
  • Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. It increases the cooling load and forces the air conditioner to work harder.
  • Consider installing ceiling fans to circulate the air more effectively. The improved circulation will make you feel cooler.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. You can then schedule the time blocks during which your heating or air-conditioning system operates. As a result, you can set the equipment to more economical settings—such as lower temperatures in winter while you are asleep or when you are away from home. Choose one that can store and repeat multiple daily settings, so that you can have both a workday and a weekend heating/cooling timetable.

We have such great resources from our UF/IFAS Specialists available to you. This article was adapted from Factsheet FCS 3262 Energy Efficient Homes: Air Conditioning This publication includes information on understanding terms used in the industry, how to purchase a new unit, and questions you should be prepared to ask and answer when working with a HVAC representative. Contact your County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with further questions or for a copy of this factsheet. For additional factsheets on energy efficiency and other topics, visit

Author: Shelley Swenson, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Agent, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension


Shelley Swenson
UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County
Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Agent

Posted: July 23, 2012

Category: Work & Life
Tags: Energy, Energy Efficiency, Housing, HVAC, July-September 2012, Panhandle-livingwell, Sustainable Living

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