What Is a Home Cooling Load?

Figuring out how to regulate temperature effectively indoors is a challenge every homeowner has to deal with, and managing heating and cooling needs can be more complicated than you might think. Calculating and understanding your home’s cooling load and what factors contribute to it is a good place to start if you want to take control of your energy usage at home.

 

Once you understand what drives up the cooling load of your residence, you can make changes to reduce it and save yourself money on your energy bills at the end of the month. Whether you’re new to being a homeowner or you’ve just never had to deal with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning on your own before, read on to learn more about what a home cooling load is and why yours matters.

What influences my home cooling load?

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First, it’s important that you understand your home’s cooling load and how it affects you. Your cooling load is a measure used to ascertain how much energy an air conditioning unit needs to effectively cool a room of a specific size. It’s typically measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. There are a number of factors that can affect it, some of which you can manage and some that you can’t.

 

Weather, for example, is a huge factor when it comes to indoor temperature regulation, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. While every home is different, there are general guidelines you can work from to estimate your home’s cooling load. In the Northern United States, one ton of cooling capacity can handle between 700 to 1,000 square feet. To illustrate the difference temperature can make, in the hotter Southern U.S., that same capacity would only effectively cool between 450 and 700 square feet of space.

How can I reduce my home’s cooling load?

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An HVAC system that’s well-maintained is essential for reducing the load you’re putting on your air conditioning system while regulating temperature and managing energy consumption at home. While home maintenance often ends up as one of the 5 household chores we want to outsource, it still needs to get done on time if you want to keep your home safe and comfortable. Newer, smart HVAC models also often have automation and a timer, so you never have to leave your air conditioner running when you aren’t home. Remember, an HVAC system needs to be inspected and have its filter changed annually in order to remain effective, and the system should be replaced entirely every 10-15 years.

 

There are several other controllable factors that can help alleviate some of the load on your air conditioner. Drafts caused by cracks and crevices in your doors and windows can let out cool air and increase the energy consumption required to cool your home. Make sure you inspect them regularly and seal them using caulk or weatherproofing. Additional insulation in the form of blackout curtains can also help bring down the indoor temperature. Reducing the number of active heat sources within your home makes a difference too, so try using the oven a little less and keeping fewer lights on.

 

Once you understand what your load is and how to calculate it, you’ll be well on your way to managing your energy bills and keeping your house comfortable. While a lot of factors that can contribute to increasing your energy consumption are outside your control, like the weather, the direction your home faces, and the size of your home itself, there are a lot of things you can control to help reduce the load on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and help it run more efficiently. Whether it’s making small interior design changes, reducing indoor heat sources, or repairing sources of leaks and drafts, it’s essential that you maintain your home well if you want to reduce your cooling load and keep your utility bills low this summer.