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6 Ways to Improve AC Efficiency (Without Replacing Your AC!)

As the summer heat intensifies, your air conditioning system will likely become your best friend. 

However, while it keeps you cool and comfortable, it can also drive up your energy bills and impact the environment. For homeowners and energy-saving advocates alike, improving AC efficiency is not just about cutting costs but also about reducing environmental footprints.

Enhancing your AC’s efficiency doesn’t always mean replacing it with a high-efficiency unit. 

You can take a variety of practical steps to boost your AC performance, ensure a comfortable living environment, and save on electricity bills. We will guide you through understanding AC systems, why efficiency matters, and creative ways to improve AC efficiency without replacement.

How Air Conditioners Work

Before diving into efficiency tips, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how air conditioners work. 

Your AC system removes heat and humidity from the indoor air and expels it outside. It does this through refrigerant cycles within components like the evaporator coil, compressor, and condenser coil. 

The evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air, the compressor pumps the refrigerant through the system, and the condenser coil releases the absorbed heat outside.

Understanding AC Efficiency

AC efficiency is crucial for energy savings and environmental sustainability. Understanding what affects efficiency will help you make informed decisions about maintaining your AC system effectively.

Energy Efficiency Ratings

The efficiency of an AC system is measured by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A higher SEER rating indicates a more efficient unit, meaning it uses less energy to cool your home. Understanding these ratings can help you choose energy-efficient practices and products.

Impact of Poor Efficiency

An inefficient AC system consumes more power, leading to higher electricity bills and greater environmental impact due to increased energy consumption. Poor efficiency often results from factors like dirty filters, leaking ducts, or outdated insulation.

6 Tips for Improving AC Efficiency

Improving your AC efficiency ensures comfort while saving energy. Here are practical tips for enhancing performance, reducing energy costs, and promoting sustainability.

1: Upgrading Windows and Insulation

Windows and insulation play a crucial role in maintaining indoor temperatures. 

Well-insulated homes prevent cool air from escaping and hot air from entering, reducing the load on your AC system. Consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows and adding insulation to your attic and walls. 

This not only improves AC efficiency but also enhances overall home comfort.

2: Duct Sealing and Maintenance

Leaky ducts can significantly reduce your AC’s efficiency. 

When air escapes through gaps and holes in the ductwork, your AC has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Ensure your ductwork is sealed properly, and schedule regular AC system maintenance checks to spot and fix any leaks.

3: Adjusting Thermostat Settings

Strategically adjusting your thermostat can lead to substantial energy savings. 

Setting your thermostat a few degrees higher when you’re not home or during cooler parts of the day can reduce the strain on your AC. Investing in a smart thermostat can automate these adjustments, ensuring optimal efficiency without sacrificing comfort.

4: Regular Filter Changes

Dirty filters restrict airflow, forcing your AC to work harder to circulate air. 

Regularly changing your filters ensures better air quality and optimal system performance. Depending on usage and environmental factors, aim to change filters every 1-3 months.

5: Shading and Landscaping

Using natural elements to cool your home can be highly effective. 

Planting trees or installing shade structures around your home can block direct sunlight, reducing the heat load on your AC. Consider using sun blocking drapes or window shades to minimize solar heat.

6: AC Maintenance

Routine professional maintenance is essential for keeping your AC system in peak condition. 

A professional can clean coils, check refrigerant levels, and inspect electrical components, ensuring your system runs smoothly and efficiently. Regular maintenance can also extend the lifespan of your AC unit, delaying the need for a costly replacement.

Example of How to Improve AC Efficiency

Imagine a typical summer day in Portland, Oregon. As a homeowner committed to energy efficiency, you implement several strategies to improve AC’s performance without replacing it. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Upgraded Windows and Insulation: Start by upgrading to double-pane windows and adding insulation to the attic. This will keep your home cooler by preventing cool air from escaping and reducing heat.
  2. Sealed Ductwork: Inspect ductwork for leaks and have them professionally sealed. This will improved airflow and reduced the load on the AC system.
  3. Installed a Smart Thermostat: A smart thermostat was installed, setting it to monitor energy use and automatically raise the temperature by a few degrees during the day when the house was empty. This simple change led to noticeable energy savings.
  4. Changed Filters Regularly: Committing to a schedule, the AC filters were changed every two months. This ensured the AC system ran efficiently and provided clean air throughout the home.
  5. Enhanced Shading: Trees were planted strategically around the home, and sun-blocking window shades were installed. These steps significantly reduced the direct sunlight entering her home, making it easier to keep cool.
  6. Scheduled Professional Maintenance: The AC system is scheduled for annual maintenance. A professional technician cleaned the coils, checked refrigerant levels, and ensured all components were functioning optimally. Implementing these strategies decreased energy bills significantly, and the family enjoyed a cooler, more comfortable home environment.

Take Proactive Steps for AC Efficiency

Improving AC efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean investing in a new high-efficiency unit. 

By understanding how air conditioners work and taking proactive steps like upgrading insulation, sealing ducts, adjusting thermostat settings, and maintaining your system, you can significantly enhance your AC’s performance. 

Routine maintenance is one of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your air conditioning. These measures not only lead to cost savings but also contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly home.

Air Conditioning Experts in Portland

A regular tune-up from Jacobs is more than just a home maintenance task—it’s your chance to get all your HVAC questions answered. 

Our technicians are not only skilled but also excellent listeners and educators. They’re always ready to offer insider tips and help you find the best solutions for your heating, cooling, and ventilation needs.

If you need air conditioning maintenance, we are ready to help you save money and keep surprise breakdowns away. You can schedule your next tune-up and take the stress and hassle out of maintaining your system. 

No matter what you need, we’re always just a phone call away

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.