When temperatures spike during the summer months, your air conditioning unit can be your saving grace. However, when you use your unit unwisely, you may notice a lack of the cool relief you’re anticipating and skyrocketing power costs.
When you understand how your air conditioning unit functions, you can optimize the unit’s performance for maximum comfort and cost-effectiveness. In this blog, we provide you with six best practices to improve your air conditioner efficiency this summer.
1. Add Your Vent Covers and Filter to Spring Cleaning
Many homeowners assume that the condition of their vent covers, air returns, and air conditioner filters only affects indoor air quality. While these components do affect air quality when they become dusty or dirty, this buildup can also mean your air conditioner has to work harder to force air out into your home.
Vacuum and then wipe down your vent covers to clear the way for treated air to enter individual rooms. Have an HVAC technician change your filter regularly to keep the internal pathway unobstructed.
2. Avoid Ambient Heat
One of the most significant factors that affects air conditioner performance is the temperature around the thermostat sensors. Minimizing ambient heat reduces the amount of energy the unit consumes as it runs. To decrease ambient heat:
- Keep window coverings closed during periods of direct sunlight
- Take shorter showers and run the bathroom fan to disperse the heat
- Turn off electronics like computers and televisions when not in use
- Turn off the lighting the in the thermostat area
- Use heating appliances, like your oven and clothes dryer, only in the evening
If you notice that an activity (like a get-together with many guests) is raising the heat level in your home, consider taking the activity outside.
3. Choose Smart Thermostat Settings
In addition to changing the environment around your thermostat, you can also maximize performance simply by adjusting your daily thermostat settings. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at:
- Over 78℉ when you are not in the house if you don’t turn off the air completely
- The highest comfortable temperature during the hottest summer days, ideally 7 to 10℉ higher than you would usually use because this margin can produce up to a 10 percent savings on energy costs
- Your usual temperature when you first turn on the unit rather than cranking it up
The Energy Department also recommends investing in a programmable thermostat so that you can maintain these standards even when you forget to make adjustments throughout the day.
4. Have Your Air Conditioner Serviced
While you can take many steps to make your air conditioner more efficient on your own, you cannot achieve maximum performance without the help of an HVAC contractor. Air conditioning units should be serviced at least once a year, ideally in the spring or beginning of summer.
Your HVAC contractor can take steps to improve performance, such as:
- Cleaning the drain lines
- Detecting and repairing common issues
- Improving the insulation around your ductwork
- Patching fluid leaks that reduce the unit’s ability to cool air quickly
- Replacing worn out components
- Topping off refrigerant and other air conditioning fluids
This step is particularly important if you have noticed any issues with air conditioner performance during the last warm season or current summer season. Unit issues that are left unaddressed can quickly develop into more serious problems, including periods of time without cooling and higher repair costs.
5. Landscape Around the Outdoor Unit
Like your vents, air returns, and filtration, your condensing unit must be kept clear of debris in order to work at its highest capacity. Adjust your landscaping in the following ways to improve air conditioner performance:
- Frequently clear away twigs, leaves, grass cuttings and other debris that gathers around the unit
- Plant dense trees or shrubs to provide direct shade over the unit
- Trim back any plants that come within a few inches of the unit’s surface
Consider working with a professional landscaper to optimize the way your landscaping works with your air conditioner.
6. Ventilate Your Home
In addition to the best practices to avoid ambient heat discussed in section two, take steps to ventilate your home. During the day, run fans to keep air circulating throughout your home, especially in rooms where you spend the most time. Leave doors open to create even better airflow.
If you live in an area where nighttime provides lower temperatures and humidity, open your windows to let the breeze flow through your home. Close your windows when you get up to capture the cool air and help your air conditioner start the day off efficiently.
Use these tips to optimize the way your air conditioner performs no matter how high outdoor temperatures rise this summer. In addition to these practices, discuss the characteristics of your specific unit with an HVAC contractor for personalized recommendations.
For comprehensive cooling services, trust the experienced professionals at Advanced Heating & Cooling.