Fact or Fiction: 3 Urban Legends for Lowering Your Cooling Costs

If you’re like most families, you will try almost anything to lower your monthly energy bill. With the cost of energy and temperatures soaring, people are in cold sweats trying to find more efficient ways to cool their home or business.

But before you run out and try some wacky energy-saving strategy you heard secondhand from a neighbor, here is the truth straight from the air professionals about 3 common urban legends that supposedly cool your home for less.

Legend #1: Planting trees and shrubs around your unit helps lower your energy bill.

Providing shade for your outside central A/C unit does in fact help improve the efficiency of your cooling system and can lower your energy bill.

Besides minimizing your unit’s wear and tear by making it easier to bring cool air into the home, shading your unit can improve its efficiency by up to 10%, and lower your energy bill by up to 5%. Not a lot, but every little bit helps.

However, if you decide to shade your unit, be sure to leave 3 feet of clearance space over the top. Plants or coverings that crowd the top of the unit too closely will cause the system to work much harder and increase its demand for electricity.

Legend #2: Leaving your air conditioner running when you aren’t at home is more efficient than turning it off and having to re-cool your home when you return.

Many people believe that making an A/C unit re-cool a home is less efficient than maintaining a constant temperature inside, but the fact is that turning a unit off during the day is much more efficient than leaving it on.

Leaving your unit running forces your compressor—the biggest culprit of energy consumption—to cycle constantly. Also, most people leave for work in the morning and come back in the evening. If your system is running while you are at work, it is cooling an empty house during the hottest part of the day.

As a solution to this problem, consider installing a programmable thermostat, and when you leave, set it to turn back on 30 minutes prior to when you get home. That way you will save energy without sacrificing comfort.

Legend #3: Ceiling fans cool down a room.

This urban legend is both fact and fiction. While fans have no effect on the actual air temperature in a room, they do circulate standing air, making it seem cooler.

Using a ceiling fan is a great way to give your air conditioning system a break, while still maintaining your level of comfort in your home. In the long term, this can help reduce your overall energy bill, as long as you remember to turn off fans when you leave the room.

There are plenty of other urban legends out there about saving energy. While some of these tips and tricks may be helpful in cutting down on your energy bill, many aren’t beneficial and may actually be increasing your monthly cooling costs.

Call a trusted Gagne heating and air conditioning contractor to get a quote on installing a programmable thermostat in your home and to learn the facts about other energy saving techniques.