Central Air Conditioning
Using Your AC Efficiently
One of the best ways to manage your household energy use is to adjust your thermostat. In the summer months, the Department of Energy recommends waiting until the temperature is at 78 degrees before turning on your air conditioning. This allows you to be energy efficient and still comfortable.
We recognize that 78 degrees inside may feel too warm for some people, especially if humidity is high, so you can find the right balance between comfort and energy savings. You can use fans to make you feel 4 degrees cooler, too. So if the thermostat is set at 78, with a fan blowing, it will feel like 74. Also, use your curtains or blinds to keep the hot sun from warming up your home, and open the windows during cool mornings and evenings to naturally cool your home down.
AC Tune Ups
Get your air conditioning unit professionally serviced each year, and keep it free of outside debris. This will help make sure your AC unit is ready to cool you down during hot weather and it’s good for the life span of the machine.
It’s also important to regularly replace your furnace filters. If you have a central air conditioning system, air continues to travel through your furnace even when the furnace is off. Filters can help with allergens, and clean filters keep your mechanical systems working efficiently.
Air Conditioning Cycling Programs
What are they?
Air conditioning (AC) cycling are a type of demand response program that many utilities offer. In the summer months, much of the energy used comes from cooling your home. When everyone is cooling their home down at the same time, this drives up the demand for electricity. In order to better manage demand, households enrolled in utility cycling programs may see their AC “cycled.” The switch cycles your AC on and off generally at 15- to 20-minute intervals over about four hours. Your AC fan stays on, circulating already-cooled air throughout your home. Most participants don’t even notice when this is activated. The details of each cycling program vary by utility so contact your utility to receive more information.
How do utilities benefit?
Utilities benefit from participants enrolling in cycling programs, because electricity prices are highest during these high-demand times. It is very expensive to generate power to meet the highest peaks of customer demand, and a significant amount of utility costs are driven by just a handful of high-demand hours. Additionally, peaker power plants are generally less efficient and more polluting than the average power supply, so reducing peak electricity demand can reduce emissions, too. By limiting the peaks and valleys of electricity demand to create a more stable electricity load throughout the day, utilities can save their customers money.
How do consumers benefit?
Consumers can benefit directly and indirectly from cycling programs. Utilities offer discounts and other incentives to people who voluntarily participate in these programs. For example, Xcel Energy customers receive a 15 percent discount on their electric bill from June through September. Connexus Energy customers who turn down their AC or other energy-users themselves during peak demand periods get $1 for each kilowatt-hour of energy they save. Indirectly, these costs can have a trickle down effect by saving customers money in the long run.
Check what cycling programs (also sometimes referred to as demand response programs/load management programs) your utility offers by taking a look at their website or calling to see if you can participate.
CUB has compiled a list of known utilities offering cycling program. Use the drop down tool below to see if your utility offers an AC cycling program.
Utilities not listed means those utilities don’t offer AC cycling programs.