Should You Shade Your Air Conditioner?
Rather than relying solely on your home’s air conditioner to keep you cool, you can take some easy steps to help the mechanical cooling system. Standard suggestions for enhancing energy efficiency still apply, such as insulating your house, using curtains, and keeping cooling ducts clean. Another step you can take to boost your cooling system’s efficiency is to provide shade to your external air conditioner unit.
How Shade Can Improve Your Unit’s Efficiency
Providing shade to your home, whether using natural features like trees or installing an awning to block the sun’s rays, helps you save on energy costs and benefits your air conditioner. The sun cannot heat a shaded house, which means the air conditioner doesn’t work that hard to cool your home.
Providing shade to the air conditioner condenser unit outside of the home also increases the energy efficiency of your air conditioner. The potential gains in increased efficiency vary depending on the specific unit, the type of shading, and the unit’s location on the property. However, a shaded air conditioning unit can save up to 10 percent more energy efficient than the same unit unshaded.
Why Shading Works
The exterior condenser unit pulls in large amounts of surrounding air, which it cools before sending it into your air conditioning system ducts. If the air that the unit pulls in is even a few degrees cooler, the unit does not need to use as much energy to cool that air. The greatest benefit comes when you are able to cool a large amount of nearby air through the use of shrubs, trees, awnings, and other shade.
Do’s and Don’ts
When adding shade to your air conditioner unit, keep the following in mind:
- Do not restrict airflow around your condenser unit. Plenty of clearance is required around and above the unit.
- Keep vegetation and trees an adequate distance from the unit to prevent leaves and other materials from entering and clogging the unit.
- If you are installing a new system, place the unit on the north side of your house. That side receives the least amount of direct sunlight.