What do you associate with summer? For many, summers in Albuquerque mean sunshine, hiking, golf, baseball, and outdoor adventures with the family. For far too many, however, there’s a reason to dread summer: high summer electric bills. If you’re one of these homeowners who is not looking forward to opening your utility bill this month, keep reading: in this article, we’re going to discuss some of the causes of high electric bills and some straightforward ways you can reduce your home’s energy use and save money.
Keep your AC in good, working order
If your electric bills have been on the rise, your HVAC systems are probably to blame. For most homes, cooling and heating makes up the largest portion of residential energy use—sometimes, even more than 50% of all the electricity used in the home is spent making it cool or warm. This means that the best way to lower your summer energy bills is by making your air conditioner and home more energy-efficient.
What causes inefficiency?
As air conditioners get older, they often don’t work as well as they once did. This problem typically manifests itself on two fronts: first, the AC unit is more likely to break down and need repairs, especially after heavy use during the summer. Second—and of consequence for your energy bills—older air conditioners just aren’t as energy-efficient as they used to be.
When you compare them to a new model, they’re not only old—all the wear-and-tear of multiple hot summers adds up—but they’re also obsolete, in that new systems on the market today are more efficient than ever.
Improve your cooling efficiency
What can you do about this? You’ll probably want to start by scheduling a checkup with our team on an annual basis. Maintenance is one of the best ways to get the most of any air conditioner, new or old, and can give your system’s efficiency a much-needed lift.
However, if you’re getting hit with the combo of high electric bills and frequent breakdowns this summer, you should also explore replacing your older air conditioner with a new system. Wagner installs new, energy-efficient air conditioners and heat pumps here in Albuquerque. If you really want to put a serious dent in your home’s energy waste and trim those bills, a new air conditioner will do the trick.
On the hottest days of summer here in Albuquerque, your air conditioner works hard to cool your home. It’s actually fighting an uphill battle: not only does it need to cool down your hot home, but it also has to replace the cooled air that is being lost through your ductwork, into your attic, and through the roof. This same process is even worse for your energy-efficiency in the winter since heat naturally rises. Without anything to stop it, heat energy will rise right out of your home.
There are two ways to cut down on this energy waste: adding insulation or have a professional seal your home’s air ducts. Let’s start with insulation. Most homes here in Albuquerque have some degree of insulation, but could use more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, northern New Mexico is located in Zone 5, which means homes here need to add R38-R49 rated insulation to an existing layer of insulation, and R49-R60 insulation to an uninsulated attic.
Additional insulation helps trap both cold (summer) and hot (winter) air in the living spaces of your home, keeping it from escaping through your roof. That, in turn, means that your HVAC systems don’t have to work as hard or as long, which both cuts down on wear-and-tear and helps lower your summer electric bills. That’s a win-win in our book.
Have your ducts sealed
Traditional HVAC systems send cooled aor heated air through the air ducts of your home and through vents to your living spaces. However, air is actually a pretty poor conduit for energy. This means that much of this cooled or heated air is being lost before it even gets to the vents. This is especially true in homes with leaky ductwork. Cooled or heated air quickly finds places to escape in tiny pinholes, cracks, or other gaps in the ducts. All-in-all, these leaks can mean that up to 20% of the output of your air conditioner is being wasted. That adds up to higher energy bills.
One of the reasons our team offers duct sealing services here in Albuquerque is because we know how much money this can save homeowners for years to come. We use specialized equipment to find leaks in your ductwork and then permanently patch them, so that the air leak is no more. No matter how new or old your home is, duct sealing can make a big difference in how much energy your home uses on a monthly basis, especially in the summer.
Make other improvements to lower your bills
Beyond making improvements to your air conditioner, insulation, and ducts, there’s many other things that homeowners can do to cut their energy bills:
- Turn it up: Just increasing your home’s temperature by 1-2 degrees at the thermostat can yield major savings. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule these temperature changes.
- Use your fans: Using ceiling and floor fans won’t actually cool down the temperature of the room, but it will make you feel a lot colder. This allows you to keep the thermostat higher and avoid paying to cool parts of your home that you’re not in at the moment.
- Salad for dinner: Avoid using heat-generating appliances such as the oven or stove during the hottest parts of the day. Prepare more meals for the family using a crock-pot, or make cold dinners, such as salads and sandwiches.
Talk to our energy-saving experts here in Albuquerque
At Wagner, we love helping local homeowners find ways to save energy and get more out of their home’s air conditioner—including comfort. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your air conditioning, insulation, and duct seal needs.