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Boost Your Air Conditioners Efficiency
Dated: July 26 2018
It’s hot in Texas. There’s no sugar-coating that one. To help keep your home cool for less, we’ve put together some of the industry’s best advice on how to get better performance out of your air conditioning system. The majority of these are free or very low cost, so get started now!
Change (or clean) your filter. Dust and debris builds up on air conditioner filters over time and will reduce the air flow and can allow that dust and debris to build up in the motor’s parts. When this happens, your system has to work even harder to function. Check filters every 30 days and replace when dirty. (If your unit has reusable filters, you’ll need to clean them about every 30 days.)
Clean your air vents and condenser. Vacuum or wipe the dust off the vents and air returns and make sure they’re not being blocked by furniture, textiles, or decor. Outside, use a stiff brush to clean off leaves and dirt that have built up on the condenser unit and trim back any foliage that’s grown close to it. You can use a hose with medium water pressure to spray off stubborn dirt or mud. Coil cleaners and protective sprays are available in many home improvement stores or online to clean the condenser more thoroughly. Be sure to check your unit owner’s manual and follow the instructions on the can. As with the filters, dirt build-up on the condenser causes your system to use more power to draw air in.
Clean the drain line. Flush your air conditioner drain line monthly during the hot months with bleach or vinegar, followed by water, to keep it free of build up that could result in a blockage and backup. See our previous blog on HVAC maintenance, check your owner’s manual, or search the internet for more precise instructions on how to do a flush if you’ve never done one.
Close blinds and curtains. Natural sunlight is great, but with it comes with a greenhouse effect. During the hottest parts of the day, keep blinds and curtains closed so that the sunlight doesn’t warm your house and cause your air conditioner to work overtime. Solar screens and heat-reducing window film can also help keep the inside cooler, especially in rooms that get full afternoon sunlight.
Program your thermostat. Many modern thermostats have programmable settings that allow you to set when the temp goes up or down automatically. Set it to go up a few degrees when you’ll be at work and no one will be home, and then have it start lowering the temperature to a more comfortable level just before you’ll arrive home. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you can increase and decrease the temperatures manually when you leave and arrive. If you’re going to be out of town for a few days, crank it up even more, but don’t turn it off. The items inside your home might not all be able to handle extreme heat, and no one likes to clean up melted toiletries and candles, etc. Take caution in raising temperatures too high if pets will be in the home, too.
Speaking of the thermostat, make sure there are no lamps or heat-emitting electronics near it. Lamps, computers, TVs, and other electronics give off heat when they’re in use, so keep them away from the thermostat or it will act as if the entire house is that warm.
Run your ceiling fans. Ceiling fans recirculate the air with some force, so the air in your home will feel cooler than it is. When you’re using ceiling fans, you can often increase the thermostat by a degree or two and still be comfortable. Consider using desktop fans for comfort in areas that might be warmer, like near the stove (just don’t blow air in the direction of open flames, if It’s a gas stove). That way you can cool off without cooling the entire house.
Seal windows and doors. Make sure your weather stripping and caulk are all intact with no gaps letting hot air in and cool air out. Every bit of warm air that comes in helps increase the temperature in your home, making the air conditioner work harder to maintain your thermostat setting.
Check your insulation. Your home came with insulation, but over time it’s not uncommon for it to shift or even fall out of place. If a section of insulation has fallen, that part of your home may not be staying as cool as it could be. Carefully re-secure any insulation that’s fallen or hire a professional to do so if you’re not comfortable. You can add extra insulation and radiant barriers, if you wish, to further improve the heat transfer inside your home. Outlet and light switch insulation foam is available to help make up for the holes necessary for outlet wiring.
Consider upgrades. If your system is older and limping through each heat wave, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace it. New systems are more efficient than ever and will save on energy costs, and financing is often available. Of course, if there are still a few years of life left, sometimes switching out a few parts can improve the efficiency. Consult an HVAC pro for advice and be sure to get multiple estimates if you don’t already have a trusted company on call.
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