Here in South Louisiana, we all have a love-hate relationship with summer. Summertime means trips to the beach, fishing, and spending time with friends and family. It also means heat and humidity in your sweltering home—and the skyrocketing summer energy bills that come with having to constantly run your air conditioner. Don’t let high electric costs get in the way of your summer fun! In this article, we review some of our best tips for getting more out of your air conditioner and lowering your summer energy bills.

A technician works on an air conditioner here in Lafayette, which helps with summer energy bills.Focus on your air conditioner

Your air conditioner is by far the largest user of electricity in your home. In fact, in most homes in our state, running the AC during the long, hot, and humid summers accounts for more than half of all annual energy use. In other words, you can double-check that the lights are turned off when you leave, but you’re unlikely to see summer energy savings of any significance without an efficiently operating air conditioner.

Schedule regular maintenance

Air conditioners tend to get less efficient as they age or as they go a prolonged time without professional maintenance. The latter is especially important: if you haven’t already scheduled your spring AC tune-up with our team or—better yet—enrolled in our Silver Club, you should really consider doing so. AC maintenance is not only critical to keeping your AC system working right. It’s also a major boost to its energy efficiency, allowing it to provide your home with more cooling with less energy waste.

Don’t let age get the better of your system

If your air conditioner is more than a decade old, you’re more than likely in the home stretch of its expected lifespan. While it isn’t unheard of for air conditioners to make it to the two decade mark—especially with regular maintenance—most AC units last about 12-15 years. Those last years of its life are probably going to be the point where you’re getting hit by an efficiency double-whammy. First, the system isn’t operating as efficiently as it did when it was first installed—age, wear, and tear has seen to that. Second, even its peak efficiency has been surpassed by newer systems on the market. Energy-efficiency technology and manufacturing from leading brands like Trane and Carrier has grown by leaps-and-bounds since 2005.

Talk to your neighbors and get a general feel for what their cooling is costing them. If you have an older system, there’s a good chance that they’re paying a lot less than you are for about the same amount of cooling. That’s probably your best sign—along with frequent repairs—that it’s time to upgrade to a new system. Our team can help with that. We offer free in-home estimates on new Trane and Carrier air conditioners here in Lafayette and South Louisiana.

Have a strategy for cooling your home

No matter how new or old your air conditioner is, there are steps you can take to reduce its workload and your energy bills. Here are a few of the best ways to lower your summer energy bills:

  • Use fans: Ceiling and floor fans don’t actually cool the temperature of the room like an air conditioner does. But, they do cool your skin, making you feel cooler. In most cases, a fan can make the room feel 4 degrees colder than it actually is. This means you can turn the thermostat up by 4 degrees without really noticing the change. That’s a pretty significant change that will lead to major summertime savings on your energy costs.
  • Go by degrees: Speaking of adjusting your thermostat, even seemingly small changes to the temperature can lead to big savings. Adjusting your thermostat by just 1-2 degrees can cut your energy bills significantly. With a programmable thermostat, you can automate these temperature changes, adjusting how cold or hot your home is when you’re gone, sleeping, or hanging out at home.
  • Get energy smart: Using your oven to bake a turkey on the hottest evening of the summer might yield a delicious meal, but it’s also bound to send your energy bills skyrocketing—not only do you have to account for the energy used to power the oven, but you also have to consider the energy being used to cool down the home and counterbalance the heat. In the summer, you can save energy by switching to cold-prepared foods or using a crock-pot to make food, not excess heat.

Switch to a better plan

Many utilities are now offering energy-saving plans that reward customers for not using as much electricity during certain hours of the day. Typically, the hours of 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. are when the electric company sees the highest energy demand—people get home, cook dinner, and run the AC during the hottest part of the afternoon. To curb the stress on their system, many utilities offer plans where you pay an overall reduced rate for energy but higher rates during that “peak hours” window. Talk to your utility company to see if this kind of arrangement is possible in your neighborhood.

Schedule an energy audit

Most homes, both new and old, are inefficient in at least one way or another. From leaky window frames to pinholes in ductwork or improper insulation, almost every home here in South Louisiana has room for improvement when it comes to energy-efficiency. That’s why our team offers energy audits locally. Our energy audit is a thorough inspection of your home where our techs identify places where you can make permanent improvements to your home’s efficiency, which means lower summer energy bills for years to come.

To schedule your energy audit, or to get an AC tune-up, talk to our team here at Southern Air. Our energy-efficiency experts are ready to help you get the most out of your air conditioner this summer.