A lot of people will pick 4th of July weekend to take a trip to the beach or get out of town. Here are some travel tips to keep your home energy bills down while you are away.
Don’t Turn Off The Thermostat
Since you are going to be away for a few days and unable to react quickly to the weather conditions it makes sense to prepare your system for the long weekend. The EPA recommends that if you are going away for a while that you turn up the thermostat instead of turning it off completely.
This recommendation is because air conditioners work by using recirculated air in the home that is already closer to the desired temperature. This means that if you have your air conditioner off for a long period of time, it will have to work harder just to get the temperature to the desired level when you are home. This will increase the wear and tear on your unit, as well as increase the potential for a breakdown. The EPA recommends a setting closer to 85 degrees. However, if you are only going away for a few days, and normally keep your thermostat in the low 70’s, somewhere closer to 80 degrees might be a better setting for you. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save as much as 5 percent on their utility bills per degree change on the thermostat.
Newer homes are much better insulated than older homes were. This means that without the air conditioner recirculating the air, the inside air will quickly grow stale, and if it’s a hot day, a perfect place for mold to start growing.
Since the summer is also hurricane season, you should follow our storm preparedness guidelines and have someone check on your house occasionally while you are gone. They should be informed where your supplies are to cover up the AC in case of a storm. These supplies include plywood and tarps to cover the unit and the location of the breaker to shut off power to the unit during a storm. You should have straps installed prior to leaving, to make sure that the unit is secured prior to your departure.
Different Kinds of Thermostats
Programmable: With a programmable thermostat, some models have a vacation mode which will automatically raise the standard temperature by a few degrees to keep the load on the air conditioner minimal while maintaining energy efficiency.
Smart: A smart thermostat can also be useful while you are on vacation, because you can often monitor the inside temperature and make adjustments if needed, from a computer or your smart phone.
You should make sure that all the filters are clean. This improves the system’s efficiency and reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic breakdown while you are catching some rays at the beach.
Close all blinds and curtains, to help insulate the home.
You should also clean the outside of the unit and trim back any bushes or grass that might clog the unit.
Closing vents will not reduce the amount of air coming out of your unit. Open your vents to ensure air is circulating properly.
Install a shut off switch for units over 5 years old to prevent condensation clogs which can cause water damage.
Install surge protectors. In the event of a lightning strike, a surge protector can protect your AC unit from an electrical surge.
Another home energy related travel tip is to unplug any unnecessary appliances in your home while you are gone. Clocks, lamps, and coffee pots that aren’t in use regularly are just some of the appliances that you can unplug, and will save you some money on your monthly utility bills. Some items, like cell phone chargers don’t need to be plugged in at all, unless they are in use. All that they are doing is using energy, without any need to.
The best way to prevent any issues while you’re out of town if you haven’t had a routine maintenance checkup recently, now might be a good time to do so. The technician can
Clean the coils
Make sure that the refrigerant is at an acceptable level
Vacuum out any dust from the fans
Remove branches and leaves that may have fallen into the unit
Respond quickly to any malfunctioning equipment
Following these travel tips can help you have a more enjoyable long weekend or extended vacation because you are saving money on your utility bills and have the peace of mind that you have done all that you can to secure your air conditioner before leaving. For more air conditioning related questions, including home energy related travel tips, contact us today at Snyder Heating and Air. We have been proudly serving the Jacksonville area for over 40 years.