About 56 percent of your household energy costs go for heating and air conditioning, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
And with August having a reputation as a hot month, it makes sense to optimize your AC.
You can reduce your energy use from 20 to 50 percent, depending on how you do it, according to the energy department.
Switching to a high-efficiency air conditioner is the big one, but also potentially the most expensive. Here are some other maintenance and system changes you can make.
-- Change the air filter. A clogged filter forces the AC to work harder to pull air. During summer, the filter needs to be changed every month; at other times, check the filter every month. Once it appears dirty, change it.
-- Check and clean air ducts. Vacuum the duct, then hold a lit match or candle to the side while the AC is running. If there’s a leak, the flame will flicker. Leaks can be sealed with duct tape. Make sure the vent fins are opened fully.
-- Insulate unit ductwork. Ducts should be sealed and wrapped in fiberglass insulation with foil facing. Check with your hardware associate for the proper type.
-- Clean the vents and debris from around the outside unit. Clear or trim bushes and plants from around the unit for several feet.
-- Install a programmable thermostat. If not, manually set temperatures higher when you are not home or at night while sleeping so that cooling is not wasted.
-- Use ceiling fans to circulate cool. Ceiling fans set on low use less energy than air conditioner fans.
-- Ensure that your attic is properly ventilated with a box fan as an exhaust to eliminate hot attic air.
Check with your hardware associate for additional tips to save on energy bills.
Bjorkman's Ace Hardware
4520 W. Crystal Lake Rd., McHenry, Il., 60050
Call (815) 385-3660