If your cooling costs were a little too high last year, there are steps that you can take to lower your cooling costs now and in the future.

Clean & Open All Vents

The first thing you need to do is make sure that all of your vents in your home are open and clean. Closing vents so that a particular room is not cooled is not actually a good strategy. Closing vents forces the air to go elsewhere and disrupts the flow of air through your home.

If you want to close vents in a particular room, what you really need to do is upgrade to a zone heating and cooling system that allows you to determine which rooms cool or hot air is sent to and which rooms no air is sent to. Until then, closing vents is actually detrimental to your HVAC system and can lead to an increase in your cooling costs, not a decrease.

Keep Your HVAC Unit Cool

Work to keep the outside part of your HVAC system cool. Although trees or bushes can provide shade for the outside portion of your HVAC unit, they are problematic at best since branches and shrubbery can get into your system and get in the way of its performance and even damage it.

Instead, a simple awning is the best way to keep your HVAC system cool. A simple awning can provide your HVAC system with the shade that it needs to stay cool. When your HVAC unit is cool, it does not take as much energy to operate.

You can install a traditional awning to your home where your HVAC unit is located, or you can build a simple awning using plywood and 4x4s to keep your HVAC system cool. Make sure that air is still able to freely circulate around your HVAC system. You don't want to box it in; just cover it up and provide it with a little shade.

Clean the Air Filter

The air filter is the one part of your HVAC system that has one of the biggest and most oversized impacts on your HVAC system. Having a clean air filter not only ensures that your air is cleaned and filtered properly, it also ensures that your system works effectively. When the filter on your HVAC system gets clogged up, the overall efficiency of your HVAC system can decrease, resulting in increased cooling costs.

Reduce your cooling costs this summer by opening all the vents in your home, keeping the air filter clean, and providing the outside component of your air conditioner with some some shade.