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Understanding Your Air Conditioning System

If you want to save money on your air conditioning system, your first step should be to understand exactly how it works. After all, your heating and cooling system uses more energy (about 54 percent) than any other energy use in your home.

The heating and cooling system in your home is made up of three components:

  • Air Conditioner/Furnace
  • Duct work that transports the hot and cold air throughout your home
  • The thermostat

Air Conditioner/Furnace

If your air conditioner or furnace is an older model (more than 15 years old), it is probably not very energy efficient. Regular scheduled maintenance is important to keeping the system operating properly. You will want to schedule an annual inspection from a qualified technician to look for any problems with the system. At that point, any small problems can be dealt with before they become bigger concerns.

Make a point of changing the air filter as often as recommended on the package to increase the air conditioner’s efficiency. It will also prolong the life of your system and save money. If you are doing any home renovations that produce dust, change the furnace filter at the start and end of the project to protect the furnace.

Duct  Work

The ducts in your home are the square metal channels that distribute cool and hot air from the air conditioner and furnace to each room. If there are leaks anywhere in the system, you are wasting energy.

The duct work is attached to the heat register where both hot and cold air flows into a room and a cold air return. The two vents allow the air to circulate by sending hot and cold air from the furnace into the room and then returning it to be heated or cooled and returned.


There are a couple of ways you can use your thermostat to keep your energy costs down. You can turn it up during the summer so that the air conditioner runs less often and turn it down during the winter. The second way is to install a programmable thermostat. For every degree you lower or increase the thermostat during an eight-hour period, you will be able to save up to three percent on your energy bill.

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