Here in Arizona “HOT! HOT! HOT!” Doesn’t just represent a one-hit wonder—it’s a way of life that lasts for months! If you have been living in the Arizona desert for a while you probably know that when people say “The ice has broken on the Santa Cruz,” it means we’ve experienced the first day, of about 100 days, of three-digit temperatures. Typically, this happens somewhere between the middle of May to the beginning of June and it marks the season when your air conditioning equipment will be working 24 hours-a-day-7-days-a-week!
This is a special kind of endurance contest, for which your air conditioner (AC) may or may not be prepared– which could make your energy bill hit a new all-time high! With temperatures this hot for this long it’s crucial to your budget and your sanity to learn extra ways to keep your home cool because brutal heat may cause your AC to overwork or breakdown. We at Oasis Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., have some ideas that may help you save money, avoid AC repairs and extend the life of your equipment.
“Little Things Mean A Lot”… Here are some tips to beat the Arizona heat:
- Timing is everything! Your thermostat should be set for your comfort — not overcooling your home. Raising the temperature only one degree will save energy and lower your energy costs by approximately 6%. While it is true that turning the system on and off whenever you leave the house for a while is not a good idea (because the compressor and other parts need a lot more energy when starting from a full stop), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to run the AC at full blast all the time. Since most people are not home all the time, the perfect solution is to install a programmable thermostat. This lets you schedule the house at an ideal 78 degrees, or so, when home and at about 4 degrees higher when you’re at home. A programmable thermostat is more effective at reducing the amount of energy used than turning the system on and off on all the time and it reduces wear and tear on your AC equipment for a long life.
- Chill Out! Do high-energy tasks early in the cool of the morning instead of adjusting the thermostat.
- Dress Cool! Wearing light colored loose fitting cotton or linen clothes that will allow air to circulate over your skin and evaporate sweat. Wear open shoes or sandals at home.
- Catch a Breeze! Even though it doesn’t cool down your room any further than your thermostat says, use your ceiling fans to improve the sensation of cooler air moving around you to help you to feel more comfortable.
- Microwave, grill and serve chilled foods, after all it is summer! Don’t use your kitchen stove or oven during the hottest part of the day to avoid generating more heat which places more stress on your AC system.
- Change your AC air filter every month to improve the circulation of cooled air. If you are unable or uncertain how to change your filter, or in you are unsure how to tell if your filter needs changing, the professionals at Oasis can help.
- “Shut the Front Door!”: Exterior doors should always remain closed when the AC is on. Escaped cold air out and a flood of hot air in will cause AC units to run longer to maintain the temperature set on the thermostat.
- Block the Heat! Install insulating window treatments or draperies in your home. Black-out curtains completely block out the sun rays help by controlling the amount of radiant heat entering your home. The investment is worth it in the long-term savings on your energy bills because window coverings affect the rate at which your AC runs from having to constantly keep up with the heat entering through uncovered windows.
- Made in the Shade! Plant shade trees and heat tolerant plantings on the southern and western facing walls to provide shade. Plants also keep your house cool because they lose water during transpiration, which cools the air around the plants.
- Retire Early! Consider replacing your older AC equipment for a new energy efficient model after about 10 years, or 15 years– even if it is functional and well-maintained. New equipment is much more efficient. Installation of a new Energy Star system will guarantee you are getting the most out of your AC and will help you off-set the cost with immediate and cumulative savings on your utility bills. You may even qualify for a rebate from your utility company!
- Prevention, Prevention, Prevention! Consider putting your HVAC system on a professional maintenance and service agreement to maintain its optimum performance. Regular inspections will help you to find problems early and avoid costly repairs.
- Plug the Leaks! In time, practically all AC systems develop leaks in the air ducts and vents. It is important ducts and vents are checked for any open or un-insulated areas at least once before the summer season. Garages, attics, and crawlspaces are key areas where your HVAC technician will during routine maintenance. Properly insulated ducts and completely sealed piping free of leaks make a huge difference that will save you money on your energy bill.