Why It’s Important to Keep Your A/C On – and How It Can Save You Money

Like most of us, you try to save a few extra dollars whenever you can – especially when it comes to major expenses like your hydro bill.

You might have even considered shutting down your central air conditioning off whenever you leave the house. But that would mean coming home to a stiflingly hot house after a long, summer day…which is not something anyone wants.

There’s been a lot of debate on this question of turning off the A/C to save energy. Your money is important, of course, but so is your family’s comfort! Is it really that much more efficient to switch off the air conditioning when you leave the house?

Let’s air out the facts on this issue.

Should I Turn Off my Air Conditioner to Save Money?

First thing’s first: the long-standing myth that turning off your air conditioner actually wastes more energy than it saves.

This theory posits that your air conditioner uses more energy just to power itself back on than you would save by switching it off. Were this true, leaving your air conditioner running would always be the more energy-efficient choice.

However, that theory doesn’t really hold true. It may have been true in the past, but the air conditioning systems we use today run most efficiently when they’re operating at full speed. If your A/C has been switched off for a few hours, it might make a bit more noise when you first switch it on – but it is still using less energy than it would had it been running all that time.

When you leave your air conditioner on, it will constantly consume power to keep your home cooler than the ambient conditions. As the temperature outside fluctuates, the system must work continuously to maintain that perfect temperature you left it on.

In short, keeping your air conditioner on all day during the summer will invariably cost more than it would to switch it on and off each day. Turning it off when the house is empty is definitely the more cost-effective way to run your A/C.

But there’s a catch: just because you can save energy this way doesn’t mean you should. There are definite drawbacks to cutting the power whenever you leave – namely, the humidity.

Why You Shouldn’t Shut Your Air Conditioner Off Completely

You might picture your air conditioner as a machine that simply blows cold air into your home. But what’s really going on is a bit more interesting. Central air conditioners cool your home by removing heat and humidity from the space and then returning the conditioned air.

If you’ve ever looked inside your air conditioning unit, you’ll have noticed the evaporator coil – a square, metal component with tubes full of refrigerant. Below it you’ll find a drip pan, which collects the moisture the coil pulls from the humid air.

Your air conditioner doesn’t only cool the air down. It also removes excess moisture to make the air less humid. So, if the air is humid and you’re A/C isn’t running at all, you’re not removing any moisture at all – and you run the risk of damage caused by excess humidity.

What About Pets?

Do you share your home with a furry or feathered friend? You’ll want to keep them in mind when it comes to setting the temperature.

Although your home doesn’t heat up in the sun nearly as fast as your vehicle, unconditioned rooms can become uncomfortable or even hazardous to animals in the summer heat. For many of us, leaving our pets at home without air conditioning is simply not an option.

What’s the Best Way to Run Your Air Conditioner?

So, you won’t save energy by leaving your air conditioning on all day. But you can’t just power it off completely, either. Is there a compromise?

1. Set a Smart Schedule with Your Thermostat

For most people, the simplest solution is to invest in a programmable thermostat. You can easily save approximately 15% on your energy bills just by scheduling a temperature adjustment while you’re away! Every degree makes a difference in your energy bill.

Programmable thermostats let you adjust the temperature throughout the day. Set a schedule to inch up the temperature just a few degrees while you’re away so the air conditioner is still running, but not at full blast. Just have the A/C ramp back up to your preferred temperature about half an hour before you come home!

Smart thermostats like the iComfort and ecobee4 have risen in popularity over the past few years. These devices give you complete control over your home’s central heating and cooling using a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

With a smart thermostat, you have even greater control over the level of heating in your home based on the time of day, weather and more. And if you happen to forget to set the temperature before you leave your home, you can do it remotely using your laptop or mobile phone (like the one you’re using right now!)

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You can also use a smart thermostat see how much energy you’re using in real-time. This information allows you to be more energy efficient and save money!

Not only is this easier than shutting the air conditioner on and off…it means you’ll never have to come home to a hot, humid house.

2. Install a Two-Stage Air Conditioner

Another great option would be to install a two-stage air conditioner. While it’s not as quick and easy as installing a thermostat, a two-stage air conditioner will yield far greater energy savings in the long run – even if you do keep the A/C running.

A two-stage air conditioner like the Lennox XC21 has two levels of operations: high for hot summer days and low for milder days.  The system would run on low stage for most of the day and increase to the second stage later in the afternoon when the heat is the greatest.

This gives you the best of both worlds: lower energy costs during the day, better humidity control and complete comfort in your home when you arrive from work.

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Want to Spend Less on Air Conditioning?

Did you know you can lower your air conditioner’s energy use by up to 15% just by having the filter cleaned?

That’s why washing or replacing the filter is part of our 20-point precision air conditioner tune-up. Preventative maintenance is the key to keeping your A/C running efficiently. Contact our air conditioner specialists to learn more about how we can help you spend less on air conditioning this summer.

Water Damage and Basement Flooding: What Does My Insurance Cover in Ontario?

What does it cost to repair a flooded basement? What if your sewer backs up due to overland flooding from heavy rainfall, or your sump pump fails due to a power outage? 

These problems are becoming all too familiar here in Southern OntarioSadly, the risk of urban floods will likely continue to increase as we experience earlier snowmelt, more intense rainfall and other effects of climate change in Canada 

You’d hope that your homeowner’s insurance policy would provide adequate coverage for any flooding or water damage. But there are many types of home flooding that are not covered by a typical home insurance policy – and according to new data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, families who fall victim to flooding can expect to pay an average of $43,000 in repairs. 

Don’t wait until you are in a crisis to understand what your insurance company will and won’t cover regarding plumbing! Here’s what you should know about flood and water damage coverage in Ontario. 

Does Basic Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Basement Flooding in Ontario?

Most basic homeowner’s insurance plans do cover basement flooding in some circumstances, but it often depends on the source of the water damage. 

Typically, homeowner’s insurance covers damage resulting from any water overflow from malfunctioning household appliances such as your dishwasher, washing machine or hot water heater. When your pipes burst from freezing in the winter (or possibly from your A/C unit), your insurer will likely cover the damage and any replacement costs. 

But what if the cause of your flooded basement is the result of a hot tub or swimming pool overflowYour insurance company will generally replace and repair any damage caused by these types of flooding because they are considered “sudden and accidental.” The same applies if your toilet overflows and ruins your newly laid bathroom flooring. 

Of course, when most people think about basement flooding, they aren’t thinking about plumbing issues. They’re worried about overland flooding caused by severe weather 

Unfortunately, this is exactly where your homeowner’s insurance could fall short. 

When Do I Need Additional Insurance Coverage for Flooding?

In reality, most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t include overland flood insurance at all. 

Overland flooding occurs when water flows over the ground and seeps into buildings through the windows, doors and cracks in the foundation. Most flooding occurs when rivers or streams overflow during the wet spring months, but floods can occur anywhere at any time of year.  

Although this type of flooding is one of the most frequent and costly natural disasters in Canada, most basic homeowner’s insurance policies do not provide coverage. Instead, many insurance companies offer overland flood insurance coverage for a small, additional fee.  

The cost of this extra coverage is minimal in comparison to the cost of the potential damage caused by flooding or sewage backup. But when you take out a flood policy, you will need to purchase both dwelling and contents coverage to get the maximum coverage for your basement.  

You should also consider sump pump coverage, as many policies do not cover water damage if your sump pump fails due to malfunction. 

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Sewage Backup?

Sewage backup from an overwhelmed municipal sewer system can be one of the most extensive and costly disasters that can befall a home.  

Unfortunately, like overland flooding, this type of water damage is not part of most basic homeowner’s insurance policies. But most companies do offer an endorsement for sewage backup that is relatively inexpensive and highly advisable addon to your homeowner’s policy.  

Installing a mainline backwater valve can prevent sewers from backing up. A backwater valve will close automatically if sewage backs up from the main sewer.

How to Protect Yourself

As a homeowner, it’in your best interest to take any preventative measures you can. We encourage you to have a having a backwater valve installed to prevent sewage backup, as well as getting the extended home insurance mentioned above.  

Some municipalities offer rebates or subsidies to install flood prevention devices such as sump pumps and backwater valves.