|I can't get my house below 80
during the day and often only 75 at night while it is set at 72 at
Help me figure this one out please.
I'm having similar
The main culprit is your air conditioning. The reason why it is
is because the heat this summer has been both intense and constant
into the night). Most people don't realize that electricity costs
aren't a linear phenomenon. There's a tipping point, and this
we moved past it and stayed there. If it's a little hotter, it
mean that the air conditioner has to work just a little harder.
fact, at some point, your air conditioner does essentially no
Here's how it works:
The heat in your house is
freon (or a chemical with similar properties in more recent
The freon is in liquid form because that absorbs heat more
The freon (still liquid) is moved outside your house to the
That's the thing with the fan blowing hot air and running constantly
right now. What happens here is that the freon is allowed to
(yes, the name is backwards), and it gives off its heat. This is
exactly what happens when water (e.g., sweat) evaporates off of you to
cool you down. The change from liquid to gas uses whatever
energy there is, and heat is the most available energy, so it is taken
out of the environment (i.e., it gets cooler) in order to evaporate the
moisture. (You can feel this even more strongly with rubbing
perfume, or anything else that evaporates quickly.) The cool
is pumped back into your house while the compressor blows away the hot
Here's the problem
though. The assumption
in the design of this system is that the amount of heat collected
the house will make the coils hotter than the temperature
Right now, there isn't much of a difference in temperature because the
coils are, say, 115 degrees while the air around them is maybe 110 (It
wouldn't be nearly this big an issue if it was 85 outside, for
The heat doesn't get blown off of the coils because you can't cool
this side of molten lava by blowing hot summer air on them. The
hot freon goes right back inside and your compressor, blower, and
else keep right on running because they haven't brought the temperature
inside down to what you would like it to be.
Incidentally, in hotter, dryer
such as in El Paso, TX, the air temperature is similarly sweltering,
they use "swamp coolers" instead of compressor units like ours.
of air, they pour water over the coils, and that (rather than air)
the heat away. Unfortunately, these are ineffective in conditions
with higher humidity. They fail even in El Paso when the humidity
rises beyond a certain point.
Those are all things
directly to the air conditioning itself, but you can do a lot to ensure
your house doesn't produce more heat internally than you need to.
Wash your dishes and do your
laundry at night.
You're making heat that your air conditioner has to get rid of.
it has to work harder (i.e., run longer) during the day.
Use your clothesline whenever
I put a set of blankets out the other day, and they were dry in a
of hours. There's too damned much heat available for free (all summer
to be buying more from the electric company.
If your water heater is
indoors (mine is on
the back porch since this is a retro-fitted 80 year-old house), get one
of those Little Gray Boxes from the hardware store. This is a
that will cut back on how often it runs. Additionally, you can
cut the thermostat back on it so it isn't getting as hot.
make sure the pipes are insulated. You will literally burn
on them. That's heat you paid for that's just escaping all
Don't put anything hot into
That's like paying twice to cool it down. Conversely, have some
and let anything frozen thaw on its own before you pay to microwave
I used to put tv dinners on the back of my monitor for a couple hours
supper (this was back before I had a flat-screen). Even with all
that heat, they would still be icy most of the time.
Keep your fridge filled with
This makes it run more efficiently. Also, when you open the
you have cold *stuff* not cold air. Cold stuff doesn't run out of
your fridge. Cold air does. (If you have any extra
-especially half-inch sheets- put those inside the fridge -especially
the walls- to take up space and to insulate it better.)
Turn off your lights and other
In addition to using (read: wasting) electricity, they also produce a
of heat you are then paying to get rid of.
filter and I cleaned around the outside unit thing. Do I need to
have someone come look at my central air unit? Any ideas would be
Those are both great
do. That increases the efficiency by getting the air flow
You can also try to keep the compressor cooler by having it shaded
you don't want to put something above it that impedes the air,
If it is a dark color, then you probably want to color it lighter
optical white, ideally). Some of the lines leading to it ought to
have foam insulation on them so the cool isn't lost before it gets into
your house. (Note: One of the lines is leaving your house hot and
therefore shouldn't be insulated. A third line carries
it should be obvious which one that is.)
As far as the rest of the
house, one of
the most important things is ventilating your attic. I would have
to check yours out to see if it is effective as it is or if there is
more that can be done. I would also try to find places where you
could shade the house. If you have shrubs and trees shading the
then that's that much less heat that makes it into the house that you
to remove. A light-colored house helps as well, especially a
roof, although no one seems to make anything like that. Black
to be accepted, even though it costs Americans literally billions each