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9 Steps to Maximize a Portable Air Conditioner's Cooling Efficiency

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During the hottest days of summer, your air conditioner may seem like a blessing - that is, until you receive your monthly electric bill. Studies have shown that heating and cooling systems can account for over half of a household's energy bill, with air conditioning using more energy than anything else. In fact, in especially warm climates, 60-70% of one's energy bill can be from an air conditioning system alone! Ultimately, paying for sky-high electric bills is the price we have to pay to stay cool and comfortable.

With that in mind, when it comes to cooling your home both cost-effectively and efficiently, one of the first steps you can take is to purchase a portable air conditioner and here are 3 reasons why:

  • Compared to traditional window air conditioners or central cooling systems, portable versions are much more energy efficient, as they're only used to cool a single room or area and not an entire home.
  • Most portable ACs are as efficient as mini-split or window units, and many even boast higher EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings.
  • These self-contained air conditioners are often times more affordable to both purchase and maintain than traditional units, and permanent installation is not required.
To get the most out of your portable air cooler and to save money on your cooling bill this summer, follow these simple steps:

 

1. Reduce Heat Sources

Heat sources from light bulbs or even cooking creates a significant amount of heat that must be removed by your air conditioner. In order to reduce heat from your light bulbs, try replacing them with compact fluorescent bulbs. Because they use 75% less energy and generate 70-90% less heat, they can maximize your AC's overall cooling efficiency. Furthermore, another heat source that can affect cooling power is from cooking with appliances such as gas or electric ovens and stoves. Try making more use of your microwave oven to decrease heat in your home instead.

2. Don't Cool Unoccupied Rooms

Movable air conditioners can save you money because they eliminate the need for solely relying on central or window air conditioning systems. However, to maximize energy savings and cooling efficiency, only use the small air conditioner to cool the rooms you're using, and don't forget to close the door in those rooms. Also, if you have a portable fan or ceiling fan, using these in conjunction with the compact air conditioner will help spread the cool air throughout the room.

3. Raise the Temperature

Almost all transportable air conditioners will include thermostats to help you control your desired temperature. Even turning the thermostat up by one degree can result in energy savings over time, and it will also prolong the life of your unit. In fact, also realize that each degree below 78° F will increase your energy consumption by anywhere from 3-4%.

4. Make Use of the Timer Function

Reduce excessive use of your air conditioner by using it sparingly and only when you're at home. Most models feature built-in timers that will allow you to set the ideal temperature and the amount of time the unit should be operating. Be sure to set the timer or thermostat to turn off after you're asleep and when you leave during the day to save on energy.

5. Cover Your Windows

Direct sunlight can raise the temperature of a room by anywhere from 10° F to 20° F. Therefore, keeping high-angle summer sun out is imperative in order to maximize your energy efficient air conditioner. Cover your windows with curtains or drapes, and perhaps even trees and bushes from the outside. After all, exterior shading is actually more effective than interior shading.

Also keep in mind that sunny areas or second story and higher homes will require an air conditioner BTU of 10% more. Ultimately, more BTUs will cost you more money and use more energy.

6. Purchase the Right Portable AC for Your Room Size

Even if you're looking to cool a large master bedroom, living room, or den, there's sure to be a portable cooler that will fit your needs. However, one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a room air conditioner is its BTU rating. Making sure your unit can accommodate your room size is extremely important, and with a properly-sized one, you'll be able to cool any-sized room.

Room's Square Footage x 35 = BTU Required (rough estimate)

This will give you a general idea of how many BTUs you will need. But also keep in mind that larger isn't always better. Choosing an air conditioner BTU rating that exceeds your needs will consume more energy and won't cool your area as effectively due to the fact that the unit will cycle off too quickly. In addition, it won't be able to properly remove humidity from the air.

Learn how to size one here and how to choose one for your room type here.

 

icon_bulb-blue-1Portable Air Conditioner Buying Tip:
When choosing a portable AC, don't ignore the unit's Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).  This measures how energy efficient a particular model is, and a higher EER equals more energy savings and better cooling efficiency . 

 

7. Weatherize Your Home

Air leaks can waste energy dollars year-round, and you'll pay significantly more to cool your home when cold escapes. To prevent unnecessary leakage, caulking and weather stripping your home will keep you cool in the summer. Check to see that your fireplace is closed, and invest in insulation if it's feasible to do so. Furthermore, when installing air conditioner's window kit, make sure it's set up correctly and that there are no leaks present, as this can jeopardize your unit's cooling efficiency.

8. Regularly Maintain Filters

Regularly clean the filter in your unit at least once month. Dirty filters can impede air flow and even cause damage to the unit. In addition, a dirty or saturated filter will make your compact air conditioner work even harder and use more electricity.

9. Combine Your AC with an Electric Fan

Electric fans can create air movement that may result in a 4° F drop in temperatures, and because they use roughly the same amount of electricity as a standard light bulb, they cost only pennies a day to operate. Therefore, if you have an electric fan, use it conjunction with your small air conditioner, as this will tremendously reduce your AC requirements and provide maximum cooling.

Consider an Evaporative Cooler

Although only suitable for dry areas such as the American Southwest, an evaporative cooler can be much more affordable to operate than an air conditioner system with the same cooling capacity. In fact, the estimated cost of operating a swamp cooler is 1/4 that of refrigerated air, and power consumption is only limited to the fan and water pump, as opposed to an air conditioner's compressor, pump, and blower. Moreover, many swamp coolers even include ice tanks that you can fill with ice cubes to further enhance cooling efficiency.

Portable Cooling Guide Main Page >>>

 

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