The Truth About Saving Money on Air Conditioning

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe when we get so much contradictory information. Media has become a vast empire and for the average consumer, the amount of information out there is practically endless. How do you know what voices to trust and which ones should be disregarded? When it comes to our homes, that question is of paramount importance.

Misinformation, regardless of the extremity of their inaccuracy, spread far, and easily, and tends to stay around rather stubbornly. This is because once people hear something enough times, touted as fact, it’s hard to unlearn it. We do the best we can with the information we have, so it makes sense that people will often believe and put into practice a variety of techniques, habits and tendencies when it comes to their air conditioning, in an attempt to save money, to stay cooler, to stay healthier and more comfortable. Some of those habits may be beneficial, some may be neutral, and some may be counterproductive. The purpose of this tip is to go over some of the more common HVAC and air conditioning myths out there and dispel them, reveal some truths that you may find it beneficial to know. These tips will have to do with things that may be costing you more money than you need to be spending, things that may cause your house or air conditioner to need repairs more frequently, and things that can affect your health and comfort.

The Myth of Colds and the Cold

This myth is very much one of those old wives tales, a sort of antiqued hand-me-down of misinformation. We all carry around with us some misguided tips and tricks that we maybe at one point believed and followed in an attempt to attain better control over our own health. It’s simply human nature to want to find patterns in our lives and make sense of them in a way that gives us more control. One of those myths that was at one point extremely common is that cold causes colds.

There are many reasons why this myth became pervasive. For one, it does seem to be true to some extent. Being in cold weather for a while can have the tendency to make one more vulnerable to certain illnesses, including colds. And then there’s the obvious fact that the two things share the same name. The truth is that cold temperatures may make you more vulnerable to the onset of illness, but it’s not the cold itself that gives you the cold, rather it’s a virus. If your house is clean and you wash your hands regularly, you have nothing to worry about when you crank down your air conditioner.

Don’t Close Vents to Save Energy

The fact that there are vents that one can use to control the amount of air that flows in a specific room makes it easy to believe this myth. The myth is that by closing air conditioning vents in the rooms you’re not using, the excess cool air will flow to the rooms you are using and the temperature will lower quicker, thus using the air conditioner less and saving you energy, saving you money.

It’s pretty easy to see how this myth can seem believable. We are able to control the vents and whether they’re open or closed, so it’s easy to notice this and assume it means we can control where the cool air goes. But this is only true in one direction. By closing vents off to a certain room, you do keep that room from getting the cool air, or as much of it anyway, but you’re not increasing the amount of cool air flowing to the other rooms. The coolness has already gone to the ducts leading up the vents. Closing them just causes the cool air to further cool that section of the duct. It won’t flow and make its way back around to the other vents in your home.

The only way to efficiently cool some areas of your house more than others in a way that saves you money is to invest in a zoning system. A zoned system uses multiple thermostats that control dampers within the ductwork to control room temperatures according to your needs. Incidentally this is a great way to take care of a problem such as uneven temperatures in your home. You could use a zoning system to make sure your top floor is as cool as your bottom all with the same air conditioner unit, for example. Or you could use it to keep certain rooms warmer if they’re not used as often, like a guest room for example. This is a very viable way of saving money on energy bills, but it requires the installment of a zoning system.

Don’t Crank the Thermostat Lower than Necessary

This myth is in regards to comfort and how quickly you can feasibly achieve it. Like the first myth in this list, this myth is often believed simply because our brains like to think this is logically how air conditioners work, because it’s how other similar things in our lives work, despite the fact that there’s no truth to the common sense.

At first glance, one can see some sense in this myth. The idea is like this. Imagine you come home after a long day. It’s as hot as it can be outside. You’ve got a layer of sweat over your whole body. All you want is to relax in your cool house. You open the door to find that your house is far from cool. You remember that you turned the air conditioner setting up when you left as to save money. Good on you for being responsible with your energy usage but that fact doesn’t give you much relief in this moment. So you go over to the thermostat and you crank the temperature way down, past what you normally leave it as, in a desperate attempt to cool your house down as fast as it can.

The problem with this action is the belief that the difference between what the thermostat is set at and the current temperature affect the speed at which the temperature changes. Put simply, it doesn’t. Most air conditioners have just one speed, on. Even more advanced air conditioners with inverter systems or two-stage systems only have one top speed which what it’s going to go at when it’s first turned on or the temperature is changed. All you’re doing by lowering the thermostat farther than what you normally do is waste energy by making the air conditioner run longer and maintain a cooler temperature than you need to be comfortable.

Don’t Forget about Humidity

When people think about air conditioners and their purpose, they usually only think about one thing, temperature. HVAC systems are for keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This is true, but it’s not the whole story. What many people fail to take in to account when it comes to their comfort is the humidity of the environment.

Living in Austin, we’re used to thinking about humidity, but usually when it comes to the weather outside. We’re used to going outside and being pleasantly surprised by a fairly dry day or unpleasantly surprised by an oppressively humid one. But somehow we don’t always consider the idea that our air conditioners in Austin play an important role on the humidity in our own homes. And this role greatly affects how comfortable our air conditioners make us.

Humid air feels hotter than dryer air, so keeping your house dry is a great way to both feel comfortable and use your air conditioner less. That’s why some air conditioner has a drying function that is dedicated to keeping the humidity of your house low. If you live in Austin or any place with a high degree of humidity, especially during the summer, you could invest in a dehumidifier to help take some of the effort of reducing your home’s humidity off your air conditioner. This will both increase your level of comfort and decrease your energy bill.

Don’t Use Fans in Unused Rooms

This myth is one of those pervasive myths that didn’t really come about due to the spread of inaccurate information as much as faulty common sense. Our whole lives, we’ve expected that when we turn a fan on, whether it be a ceiling fan, an oscillating fan, or hand-held fan, it will cool us down. This seems like a no brainer. We use fans to cool down; that’s what they do. So it seems sensible, at least on the surface, to use fans to keep the house cool in lieu of turning down the air conditioner. The myth is that by leaving fans on throughout the house one can keep the thermostat setting higher while maintaining a cool temperature in the house, thereby reducing one’s energy usage. And while it’s true that fans use less energy than your AC, it’s not true that they’ll keep rooms cool that you’re not in.

That’s because fans don’t actually produce any cool air. The reason they have a cooling effect on your body is because they move the air over your skin. This creates a slight evaporation effect that makes you feel cool It’s like a little breeze inside your house. Fans do nothing to actually lower the temperature in the room. Because of this, you won’t see any benefit in your energy savings by using fans all day long. A fan that’s on in a room with no one in it isn’t benefiting anyone and is only using more energy than necessary.

Air Conditioning Repair in Austin

This is just a small percentage of the myths circulating out there regarding air conditioning. Some of these you might have been well aware of and their inaccuracy before, some of them you might be hearing about for the first time. Either way, it’s good to know that these myths are out there and that the correct information is out there too. For every useful piece of advice on the internet about how to save money on your energy bill, there’s bound to be a few unusual or counter-productive ones.

Stay sharp and stay cool, Austin. Air conditioning is a big part of our life and you deserve nothing but the best. If you ever have any trouble with your air conditioning or are curious about upgrades to your system, call a reputable Austin AC repair company such as AC Express. We’re committed to bringing you top-notch air conditioning service in Austin, whether you’re located in Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto, or any of the surrounding areas. For quality AC repair in Austin, call today!