The data is in and this El Niño was officially declared over and dissipated on June 9. Currently, the Pacific Ocean has entered ENSO-neutral conditions. Roughly speaking, temperatures may be shifting to being similar to last summer.
NOAA’s forecast models suggest there’s a better than 33% chance for above-normal temperatures for the rest of July throughout most of the US (versus chances for normal or below-normal temperatures) and for the rest of the summer through September, particularly in the southeast and northeast.
Texas’s weather will likely experience above normal temperatures though its Gulf coast region may remain somewhat cooler on average due to increased chances of precipitation.
Even if we’re only talking about the broad probability about the likely chances for “above-normal” temperatures, it’s a safe bet that there’s going to be a good number of pretty hot days throughout North America this summer. That means on average, you’re going to be running your AC a whole lot and possibly spending more than you’d really like to. But before you get all settled into a serious scowl, here are some ways you can reduce your air conditioning energy usage.
1) Turn up your thermostat’s temperature.
Turn up your thermostat’s temperature setting when you leave during the day and when you go to bed at night. A number people complain they can’t sleep unless the AC is cranking out 70°F. As it turns out, they’re using winter-weight bedding. While good sleep is important, remember you’re paying for 8 to 10 hours of cooling when you’re inactive. You can save money just by learning to adjust to the seasonal environment.
2) Change your AC’s system’s air filter.
Clogged air filters block air flow and reduce your AC’s blower fan’s ability to circulate air, making it run longer and use more energy. Put in new filters every three months and make sure you use only the MERV rated filters recommended for your HVAC system.
3) Check your return vents.
Make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture or curtains and that they are kept clean. Blocked return vents prevent your AC system from effectively circulating cooled air.
4) Inspect your outside condenser unit.
Clear away any weeds or fallen branches blocking it. Turn off the system sometime and give it the cooling fins a good cleaning to wash out dust and dirt. Also check it for bent cooling fins as these can be “combed” back into shape.
5) Close the curtains in south facing rooms during the day.
Simply shutting out hot sunlight can prevent a room from getting too hot. Insulated or thermal-backed drapes block out the sun and cut heat gain to a room by 33%, but drapes can also break up convection air currents in a room and help keep it cooler.
6) Get your system inspected.
An expert tune-up by an HVAC professional BEFORE the summer dog days will keep it running at its peak efficiency and alert you to looming problems. It’s only going to get hotter before it gets cooler so make sure your system will be able to take the heat!
Do you practice any other air conditioning tips during the summertime? Share with us in the comments section below!