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How to set your air conditioner for energy savings this summer

During the hot months of summer, air conditioning is an essential part of life in Texas. In fact, the Energy Information Administration estimates more than 87 percent of Texas homes use air conditioning.

However, keeping your house cool does require a fair amount of energy use. The EIA also found Texas and its neighboring states use 26 percent more electricity than the national average.

You may be aware you can shave 1 percent off your total household energy use for each degree you turn your air conditioner up during an eight-hour period. But when the temperatures are high, you may be less concerned with energy savings than you are with comfort or safety. Luckily, there are several ways you can reduce your energy use while still keeping your house cool.

Humidity controls

As the National Weather Service explained, cooling off isn’t just about lowering the temperature: you also have to control the humidity. During periods of intense humidity, it becomes harder for the body to cool itself. This can contribute to heat-related illness and also make you feel hotter even if the temperature isn’t that high.

While air conditioners can reduce the humidity in the home, you also need to keep outside air from getting in. The U.S. Energy Department recommended sealing any air leaks around windows, doors, attic hatches and other places where humid air can seep through. Once your house is properly sealed, you may find increasing ventilation by using fans, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, can be as effective as the air conditioner for cooling you off.

An air conditioning professional can help you find an energy-efficient unit that is appropriately sized for your space. An air conditioning professional can help you find an energy-efficient unit that is appropriately sized for your space.

Maintenance and selection

While air conditioners are important for safety and comfort, they do have an impact on the environment. The Energy Department estimates 100 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air each year from national air conditioner usage. Practicing responsible air conditioning use and maintenance can help to reduce this pollution.

Regularly cleaning and replacing your air conditioner’s filters will help it to operate more efficiently, which will lower your energy use and help your home stay cooler. Purchasing a high-efficiency Energy Star-certified unit can also save energy by as much as 20-50 percent.

Additionally, while it may seem like a bigger unit would make your home more comfortable than a smaller one, the Energy Department found this isn’t always true. An oversized air conditioner will actually cool the home to the thermostat set-point without eliminating the humidity. The room may feel clammy and you’ll be using more energy than you needed. Instead, you should consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or speak with a heating/cooling professional to select an appropriately sized unit for your space.

Examine your habits

You’ll also save energy by not turning your AC down any lower than necessary to be comfortable and safe. Remember, even if you come home to a warmer-than desired house, setting the thermostat lower than usual won’t make your house cool down any faster. Instead, run a fan for immediate relief and allow the AC to cool the home gradually.

Visit Gexa Energy’s website for more energy-saving tips.