Even though the high heat of a Jacksonville summer requires a good air conditioner, staying cool can feel a lot like staying cruel, at least in terms of our environment. Air conditioning represents almost half of the energy use in the US during summer months and overall emits nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. Yet, there are many ways to reduce emissions and your footprint on the planet when staying cool in the summer.
First, consider ways to improve your overall air conditioning use.
– Raising the temperature by one degree can cut your cooling bill by 3 to 5 percent, so avoid over-cooling your home by keeping your thermostat near 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Block heat through the use of shades, shutters, insulation, or trees and trellises outdoors, and cut back on heat-producing activities during the hottest part of the day.
– Install more insulation in your attic, along with radiant heat barriers, which are thin layers of metal insulation. Both can help prevent radiant heat transfer.
– Install ceiling fans to help cut down on AC use on cooler days and allow you to set the thermostat lower in general.
– Check that your ductwork is properly sealed to maintain the cooling efficiency of your system, and insulate ducts that run through un-insulated spaces like garages.
– If you’re also considering painting or re-roofing, you might add a light-colored paint or cool roofing and siding products to help reduce your cooling needs.
– Look into programmable thermostats that allow you to reduce energy consumption by setting the temperature ahead of time.
Greening Your AC
Once you have maximized your home’s cooling efficiency, consider buying a more advanced air conditioning system or improving your HVAC system. If your air conditioner is more than a decade old or if it still uses Freon, a new unit is probably your best choice. Although it is sometimes possible to replace Freon with the R-410 refrigerant, Freon has been phased out of new systems because it quickly depletes the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from extremely damaging UV rays.
Other improvements include the following.
– High Efficiency Units can reduce cooling costs and energy use by 20 to 50 percent. In particular, Energy Star models are at least 15 percent more efficient than federal minimums. Look for central air units with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of at least 14, or 20 plus for the most efficient models. For window units, look for EER (energy efficiency rating) ratings 10.7 or higher.
– A correctly-sized unit is the right size for cooling your home. Consult an HVAC contractor or technician to ensure that yours is the right size, since a unit that is too large or too small will waste energy, have humidity problems, and wear out faster.
– Ductless or Split Systems make it possible for you to directly regulate the temperature in rooms as you occupy them; increasing overall efficiency and potentially incorporating heat pumps for use in winter months.
– Whole House Fans cool your home by drawing cool outside air indoors through open windows and pushing warmer air up and out through a ventilated space in your attic. They are installed in ceilings and work best as a supplement to your air conditioner in Jacksonville, although they can completely replace it in cooler climates.
Once you have the right unit for your home, be sure to maintain your air conditioner. For window units, remove and rinse the filter once a month; for central AC, call your local HVAC service biannually to have the condenser cleaned. For both, clear registers and air inlets or outlets to prevent the buildup of dust, mold, and bacteria that can cause respiratory sensitivity and harm.
Greening and Saving
Through the above techniques, you may be able to reduce your overall home energy use by as much as half. Although it can feel like a matter of all or nothing, taking steps to make your home greener is a matter of doing what you can with the time and resources you have. Yet, while green air conditioning may seem expensive, keeping your AC unit the way it is will cost you more in the long run, not to mention the potential pollution and environmental damage. So, make improvements now to save money and help preserve our environment in the future.
For help in going greener, contact us at Snyder Air Conditioning. As a family-owned business, we have been providing heating and cooling system installation, service, and maintenance to the Jacksonville area for the last 40 years. We and our team of experienced technicians look forward to working with you to take steps to safeguard our environment for your hearth, home, and generations to come.