You want to do your part to help the environment. You know that you could be doing better when it comes to electricity and utilities, but what should you really be doing? Here are the basics.
If you can afford it, upgrade your system.
Air conditioners have — in the past — contributed seriously to ozone depletion because of their refrigerants. You know Freon? R-22? They have to stop production come 2020. These products are hydrochlorofluorocarbons, related to the also-troubling chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs began to be phased out with the Montreal Protocol — CFCs are even worse than the likes of Freon — but all air conditioning units produced after 2010 were required to run with R-410a as their refrigerant. R-410a will not hurt the ozone. Your outdated unit may still run on environmentally unfriendly refrigerant.
Make sure you understand your energy use and your utilities bills.
Furthermore, newer HVAC appliances and systems are generally more efficient. Overhauling all of your HVAC can be costly, however, and to replace one component with one more environmentally sound might actually make your whole system less efficient. (The one component can hamper the whole system.)
Maintain your unit.
Are you keeping it clean? A dirty air filter or a leak can cause your A/C unit to work far harder than it needs to. (Not to mention the fact that you won’t be feeling very cool!) Most of the time, you’ll notice when your A/C is out. But it doesn’t hurt to have a professional inspect your HVAC at least 1-2 times yearly, to make sure everything is clean and running as it should.
These changes can go a long way, as well, in savings on your utilities costs. Think of this as an investment in the environment and your own energy savings! The Environmental Protection Agency provides many resources to businesses and homeowners about their cooling needs.