Reduce Air Conditioning Use

Tips for reducing your air conditioning usage

Close the door

One of the biggest loads on an air conditioner is infiltration, the leakage of outdoor air into a conditioned space. Infiltration is even more costly on cold-storage warehouses, walk-in coolers and blast freezers.

Several small openings can have the same effect. Look for poorly fitting doors and windows, gaps around wall penetrations or faulty door closers.

Maintaining air circulation with ceiling or propeller fans in the building is important, and good ceiling insulation reduces heat gain through the roof.

Program the thermostat

Constant thermostat adjustment can increase energy costs as well. A thermostat set to 55 degrees rather than 75 does not cool the room faster. If someone leaves the office and forgets to readjust the thermostat, the air conditioner is left running all night.

Programmable thermostats can help with this. First, set a moderate temperature for occupied hours. In general, for each 1-degree increase in the thermostat setpoint, you can save 1 to 3% on cooling energy use. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature 5 to 10 degrees when you're gone.

If your building uses multiple air conditioning units, each with its own programmable thermostat, set them so that the start times are staggered. This prevents all of the units from starting at once and creating a peak demand for electricity.

Keep it clean

Clean machinery runs more efficiently. Make sure you change air filters in your HVAC systems at least quarterly, or more often with a dusty or dirty work space. Also, inspect and clean the cooling coil. With a cooling tower or evaporative condenser, keep the surfaces clean, make sure water flow through the unit is even and use good water treatment to avoid fouling.

Other measures like adding insulation; providing adequate ventilation; using light-colored or reflective roofing; reducing internal heat gain from lights and equipment; and using plants and awnings for shade can also reduce your cooling load, saving energy and money while improving comfort.