Air conditioner maintenance boosts energy efficiency

As the weather warms and preparations for summer begin, you can make substantial energy efficiency contributions around the house.

One of the most effective ways to foster energy efficiency is through proper maintenance of your air conditioning unit.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers tips when considering useful approaches to saving energy through your air conditioning unit:

Turn In. Turn On.

Turn in your old, room air conditioner to your local waste management facility and turn on a new Energy Star air conditioner. Energy Star® qualified room air conditioners use up to 25 percent less energy than a standard new model and up to 40 percent less energy than a model that is more than 10 years old. Look for a high Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). Units with high EERs cost less to operate.

Size it Right

A properly sized air conditioner will operate more efficiently and dehumidify more effectively. An oversized unit will cycle on and off more frequently. Short cycling reduces an air conditioning system’s life, and a short cycling system will not reduce humidity effectively. Undersized equipment can reduce the efficiency of air distribution and accelerate wear on system components, leading to premature failure.

No Dirty Business

A dirty filter will increase energy use and can damage the air conditioner leading to early failures, so check the filter every month and replace as needed.

Chill out in the Shade

A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

Cool Your House Only When You Are Home

A programmable thermostat can save you approximately $200 in energy costs per year on central air conditioning. An advanced power strip with a built-in timer can regulate room air conditioners.

Seal your home

Cooling your home when it has leaks around air ducts, incorrectly installed windows or other locations where inside air can escape is like blowing up a balloon with a hole in it.

Other suggestions

Seal your room air conditioner unit top and bottom. Even if it looks like the window is tightly closed, there is usually space between the unit and the window where air is leaking. Use a foam strip to insulate the gap.

Be sure the accordion-like sides on the air conditioning unit are not cracked or split and that they fit snugly. If not, replacement units are available at most hardware stores.

The Home Performance with Energy Star® program offers free or reduced-cost comprehensive home energy assessments to owners of 1- to 4-unit residential buildings. A participating Building Performance Institute (BPI) Accredited Home Performance Contractor will provide a home assessment to identify energy saving opportunities to make your home cooler, safer and more comfortable year-round.

For more information on NYSERDA programs, visit

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs.