Open windows and an active air conditioner are never a good combination. Not only does this result in a tremendous amount of energy waste, but it can also subject your cooling system to a lot of unnecessary wear. If you’ve been sleeping with your windows open to cut energy costs in your Nashua, NH home, you may want to rethink this strategy. Following are several important reasons why.
How Opening Your Windows Will Impact Your HVAC System
If the outside temperatures near your southern New Hampshire home are significantly lower at night, opening your windows may be an effective way to cool everyone down without driving up your energy costs. However, this is only the case if you shut your air conditioner off. If this system is set to cooling mode rather than “FAN” or “OFF,” it will have to work far harder to establish the indoor temperature that you’ve set at the thermostat. This can greatly diminish the lifespan of your home cooling equipment over time.
It’s also important to note that everyone in the home has to be on board with your decision. While open windows might feel good in your bedroom, turning the air conditioner off could leave other residents feeling hot, stuffy, or sweaty. Some people may also feel uncomfortable sleeping with their windows open, especially if they sleep in downstairs bedrooms.
The Surprising Costs of Sleeping With Your Windows Open
Using open windows as a regular part of your summertime cooling strategy can actually have a lasting impact on your indoor air quality (IAQ) and your indoor humidity levels. HVAC systems don’t just heat living environments up or cool them down. They also extract excess moisture from the air and regularly remove airborne particulates. Whenever your air conditioner is off, you’ll lack these benefits. Moreover, opening your windows wide can cause serious IAQ concerns if you live near a busy freeway, on a lot that has yet to be fully landscaped, or near an active construction site.
In New Hampshire, many homeowners have to work extra hard to battle or prevent problems with mildew and mold during summer. Letting your indoor humidity levels rise or fluctuate for more than eight hours each day can leave you vulnerable to these issues as well. If you wind up dealing with serious mold problems, the money that you save by limiting your air conditioner use may be spent on mold remediation services and building repairs instead.
Open Windows Often Create Safety Concerns
There’s good reason for feeling unsafe when sleeping in a room with open windows. Open windows on bottom floors create an easy entry point for intruders. Even if you live in an area with consistently low crime rates, you may not want to create a visible attraction for burglars and other ill-intentioned parties. More importantly, when access points like windows are left open throughout the night, most home alarm systems cannot be armed.
Humans are not the only safety concern when it comes to leaving your windows open at night. Open windows also create a point of entry for many common household pests. If the outdoor environment is excessively hot and humid, your cool, comfortable living space could become incredibly appealing to insects and other critters.
What Happens When You Turn Your Air Conditioner Back On?
It’s also important to consider how leaving your windows open will affect the demands that are placed on your home cooling system the following day. If the nighttime air is significantly colder than the daytime air, it might be easy for your A/C system to level indoor temperatures out once it’s put back into action. However, if the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures isn’t significant, or if you wait too long to use the air conditioner again, this equipment will actually use more energy throughout the day than it would with continual operation.
For extremely hot summers, running the air conditioner all of the time is often the best way to go. If you have a modern and efficient air conditioner, and if you’ve taken the necessary steps for maintaining it, sealing your home off and setting a reasonable temperature at the thermostat will greatly reduce how much work your A/C system has to do. This is also true in terms of air filtration and humidity management. You won’t have to increase the frequency of air filter changes, and your cooling equipment will have a far lower likelihood of developing costly repair issues.
Are Open Windows Ever a Good Idea?
Most HVAC experts recommend using air conditioners exclusively for summertime cooling with the multi-pronged goal of limiting A/C wear, ensuring an acceptable IAQ level, and keeping indoor humidity under control. However, there are times when throwing your windows open wide is the safest and best solution for both cooling and ventilation. For instance, if you choose to complete a major indoor painting or floor refinishing project, you’ll obviously want to let the related airborne contaminants flow out. If you’ve shampooed your carpets or had them professionally shampooed, keeping your windows open for a sufficient amount of time is a great way to stave off mold, mildew, and pervasive musty smells.
What If the Air Conditioner Doesn’t Get the Home Cool Enough?
When air conditioners are accurately sized for properties, they should always have the ability to effectively cool all serviced areas down. If your air conditioner constantly struggles to create the temperature you want, it may be:
- Too big or too little for your home
- Nearing the end of its lifespan
- In need of maintenance or repairs
If you have a central cooling system, the problem could lie with your ductwork. Aging, ill-maintained, and leaky ducts all lead to major problems with air loss. Opening your windows might provide temporary relief, but it’s best to take the time to identify the underlying problem. Issues that cause air conditioners to underperform usually become more severe and more costly to fix as time goes on.
What’s the Most Efficient Way to Stay Cool This Summer?
Even though opening your windows might not be the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to keep your home cool, there are still simple and free steps that you can take to maintain a more comfortable living environment at a lower cost. For instance, you can:
- Raise the temperature setting at your thermostat before bed
- Install a smart or programmable thermostat
- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans
- Use standing fans in your bedrooms
- Change thick winter sheets to lightweight sheets
- Sleep in pajamas with natural wicking properties
- Invest in blackout blinds
Regularly changing your HVAC air filter and performing other basic cooling system maintenance is always beneficial. To ensure that your air conditioner is as efficient as it can possibly be, you should also schedule an A/C inspection and tune-up service just before the start of the hot season.
At Proactive Comfort, we offer a comprehensive range of plumbing, heating, and cooling services. Residents of the greater Nashua, New Hampshire area can turn to us for boiler repair and boiler replacement services, ductless A/C installation, and more. If you need help establishing an efficient, affordable, and effective summertime cooling plan, we can help. Call us today to get started.