There are many different pieces of advice to be given when it comes to keeping cool in the summer, but air conditioning experts can agree that when it comes to ACs, nothing will help keep you more comfortable than taking good care of your air conditioner and learning to use it efficiently. Here are 8 things experts want you to know about your air conditioner.
1. Keep the Air Flowing
Restricted or low airflow can do serious damage to your HVAC system. Follow these simple steps to avoid expensive repairs.
- Check and replace your filters frequently – even in the summer. Many people think because they aren’t running the furnace in the summer, that they don’t need to change the filter, but that is wrong. Your filter is a big part of what can change the airflow.
- If you switch to a high-efficiency filter (or one with a higher MERV rating), be sure to watch that it doesn’t lower your airflow.
- Avoid blocking vents with furniture or other household items (including pets!).
2. Keep Your AC Running
To best cool and dehumidify, air conditioners are designed to run for long periods of time. That’s especially true for variable speed air conditioners or if it’s an especially hot or humid day. Resist the temptation to turn off your unit to save a little on energy costs. Better to set the target temperature a degree or two higher.
3. Don't Always Open a Window
We know, we know – cracking open a window may seem like the common-sense way to save money on summer cooling costs, but it can actually do just the opposite. The key is to only open windows for free cooling if it’s both cool and dry outside, otherwise, you are just costing your home more money and burning through energy efficiency.
“It takes a lot more energy to remove humidity than it does to cool the air,” says our resident HVAC expert, Keith Hill, the technical support manager for Minnesota Air. “Once you have your home dehumidified, don’t open up and let all that moisture back in. Your pocketbook will thank you.”
4. Wait to Replace Freon
Some homeowners are concerned that they should immediately replace AC units that run with Freon. But according to Keith, that’s not really necessary, as long as the unit is leak free. "You’ll be able to upgrade to a new refrigerant when you’re ready to replace your old unit entirely," he says.
5. Learn About New Technologies
New technologies found in the latest HVAC systems, like multistage and modulating heating and cooling, are worth knowing about. These features are not just marketing hype, either. They really can make your home life quieter and more comfortable while lowering energy bills at the same time.
6. Think System
Your heating and cooling system is just that – a system. It’s easy to think of your furnace or air conditioner as just another stand-alone appliance, but your HVAC system includes ductwork, wiring, controls, vents, and registers. Be sure to keep all parts of that system running smoothly by getting an annual inspection, duct cleaning when necessary, and changing filters regularly.
7. Don’t Block Grilles and Registers
Since airflow is such an important part of keeping your AC running efficiently, make sure the cool air can actually get to each room of the house by clearing registers and grilles.
A blocked grille or register can often get overlooked in favor of a room’s aesthetic appeal. We push couches against a wall, lay down area rugs, and pile up toys or backpacks on the floor or up against walls. Remember that for every covered grille or register, it’s wasted energy and comfort that you are literally blocking from entering your home.
8. Get Regular Maintenance
It may seem like a non-essential out-of-pocket expense to get your AC checked once or twice a year, but regular maintenance checks are shown to improve efficiency and overall longevity of your AC. That means you likely won’t need to replace out the whole expensive system anytime soon and it will cost you much less to run it.
A professional can check to make sure your coils are clean and all parts are working properly. Keith points out that neglect can lead to bigger issues. “It’s so easy to take our HVAC systems for granted,” he says. “If they are working properly, they are ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ But that’s the issue. If we neglect them, they could develop problems.”
Find an HVAC expert in your area that you can trust and establish a long-term working relationship with. It pays to work with a true professional with specialized training and certification for working with your specific system. Longevity in the field, a brick and mortar office, factory certifications, and someone who answers the phone are all good signs of a reputable pro. You can also find reliable professionals in your area with our easy-to-use dealer locator.