It's getting hot outside and it's time to think about getting the most from your air conditioner (AC) this summer. A combination of professional and homeowner maintenance for your AC unit will keep costs and energy use down.
Air Conditioning Maintenance
With good maintenence and proper care, your air conditioning unit should run efficiently for up to 15 years! Try these easy tips for getting the most out of your AC this summer.
- Don't short cycle the cooling system. Make sure that when you turn the unit off you then wait 10 minutes before turning it on again. This will allow the pressure in the conditioning system to equalize again which will prolong the life of your AC.
- Clean the area around your AC. Dirt and debris on your outdoor condenser coils can block the air flow through the unit, causing your cooling system to work harder and increasing your bill. Allow for adequate air flow to your unit by cleaning the area around the condenser coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage.
- NEVER use water to clean your air conditioning system. A thoroughly cleaned AC unit will operate at top efficiency. However, do not attempt to clean your own unit with water because of the very serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components. If your cooling system is in need of deep cleaning seek professional help.
- Clean your air filter regularly. During cooling season you should clean your filter once a month and replace it when it develops holes or appears worn.
- Don't cool the air outside, too. To ensure that your cooling system is working most efficiently, check for holes or separated joints in your AC ducts. Also, add insulation around ducts in attics, crawl spaces and garages. Check the settings on the system and close the "fresh air" vent.
Trouble spots to look for:
- Leaky ductwork. Leakage from areas such as ductwork joints, elbows, and connections can be substantial, up to 20% - 30%! This is especially costly if the ducts travel through unheated or uncooled spaces such as attics, basements, or crawl spaces. Use duct tape or caulk to seal ductwork.
- Thermostat placement. Do not place lamps or TV sets near your AC thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
Energy Saving Tips
While you can't exactly print dollar bills from your AC unit, you can do the equivalent by saving money on how efficiently your conditioning system operates. With the proper maintenance (follow the tips above) and these energy saving tactics you'll find yourself with money to spare this summer!
- Buy a programmable thermostat. You can program this thermostat to automatically lower or raise your conditioning system in order to avoid cooling your house when you are not around. A normal temperature for your cooling system is 72 degrees F for the summer. If you have central air conditioning keep the thermostat at 78 degrees F. If you leave your home for an extended period of time, do not go below 55 degrees F or your pipes might freeze.
- Ceiling fans are your best friend. A ceiling fan can make a room feel 6 - 7 degrees cooler, and even the most power-hungry fan costs less than $10 a month to use if you keep it on for 12 hours a day. Good fans make it possible for you to raise your thermostat setting and save on air-conditioning costs.
- Your windows matter. Buy white window shades, blinds or drapes to reflect heat away from the house. Depending on the severity of the heat where you live, you also can use sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows and mount awnings over them.
Home Warranty of America™
Phone: 1-888-492-7359 or 1-888-325-5143 (CA only)