If you are good at DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions and enjoy fixing things up to make them even better, you can follow the tips in this blog to increase the efficiency of your appliances, save money, and improve things around your home. Some of these steps are easy, while others require some skill in mechanics or electricity. Since we are in the thick of the summer season, there will be many hot days ahead, so now’s the time to spruce up your central air conditioning system. For the really big jobs or any steps that you’re not comfortable performing yourself, don’t hesitate to contact the professional HVAC contractors at Access Heating & Air.
Here are six great ways to make your central air conditioner operate more efficiently:
Change Your Filters Often
With central heating and air conditioning units, it is important to keep the air ducts flowing freely, and keep them free of any excess dust or dirt. Over time, this debris can build up so much that it ends up blocking the air conditioner vents.
Make a habit of checking your filter about once a month to get your AC running at peak efficiency. This will help you avoid doing heavier maintenance and repairs in the long run. Here’s a neat way you can remember to do this regularly: check your filters every time you pay your monthly electricity, heating, and cooling bill. Replace as needed.
If you have visible access to the fan motor and wheel assembly, check the dust build-up in there while you change your air filters. The performance of every central air conditioner is tied to the efficiency of the fan motor inside the furnace. If you find excessive or visible dust build-up, hire a licensed HVAC company to clean your system.
You can purchase filters at most hardware stores or discount stores. Some local dollar stores are starting to offer HVAC filters as well. To save yourself time and trouble, make sure you know the filter size your unit uses before heading to the store to purchase a new one. You don’t want to come home with the wrong filter, then go back to the store to return your purchase. Take a look at the most common air filters you’ll come across and decide which one will work best for your home.
Use our handy guide to make sure you know how to install those air filters properly!
Keep Your Thermostat Around 78 Degrees
Many people believe that turning the thermostat up to 78 degrees when they leave home can help them save money on energy bills. However, they also tend to lower the temperature to 74 or more when they return home.
Remember that your central air unit will turn on any time the temperature falls below what is designated on the thermostat, promoting your air conditioner to work harder. Once you settle on a comfortable temperature, leave it there and don’t move it up and down to your liking. As a result, you will have more relative cooling throughout the entire house, save energy by not overtaxing your air conditioning unit, and avoid worrying about the thermostat or surprisingly high bills each month.
The summer months are usually the most difficult because, as the outside temperatures get hotter, people feel the need to adjust their thermostat to 68 degrees or even lower. This will overwork your system, and it will bring in higher bills.
Close Curtains and Blinds During Hot Summer Months
Many people may not realize how much cool air is lost in the summer from the sunlight coming indoors. Even worse, people like to open their windows, letting the cool air escape outdoors quickly.
Teach everyone in your home to keep blinds, curtains, and windows/doors closed when the outside temperatures are at their peak, so you can preserve the cool indoor air and save your air conditioner from running constantly. If you do this regularly during the hot summer months, you will increase the efficiency of your unit, which will
- Save you money on energy bills
- Prevent further AC maintenance
- Keep the house comfortable
- Increase your AC’s performance
Doing the same thing in the winter, i.e., keeping curtains drawn, so heat doesn’t escape through air leaks in the windows, can be very beneficial for your heating system.
Here’s another related tip: make sure your home has good levels of insulation. Some people add insulation to their homes, while others upgrade to better types of insulation. Either way, insulation is important in sealing cool or warm air in the house, so none of it escapes outdoors. Oftentimes, your local power utility company may offer incentives to assist with the installation cost of adding insulation to your home.
Have Your Air Conditioner Moved Out Of the Sun to the Other Side Of the Home
This often requires the help of a professional to complete because you need to take into account the refrigeration and the electrical installations. However, the savings can be worth it if the total work costs less than $1,500. By placing the unit away from the sun’s direct rays, you help it retain a moderate temperature and keep all the parts running smoothly. Additionally, you will notice that your central air conditioner enjoys a long lifespan because it is running less during the summer months.
Have a licensed HVAC company come out to your home to see what can be done in this respect, and what the total cost would be. If the cost is too great, consider installing some type of shade or awning off your house to help shade the air conditioner instead. You’ll want to leave about 12″ around the sides of the air conditioner and about three to five feet around the top of the unit for future servicing needs.
Utilize Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans help move air around the room as needed. Although they do not directly provide cold, conditioned air, they do help create a “wind breeze” effect that can provide relief from the sweltering summer days. Most ceiling fans now come with a switch that can change the rotation of the blades. Make sure the fan turns counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter.
Check out this infographic for a visual representation.
Schedule Routine Checkups
There are a few other DIY steps you can take (if you are mechanically inclined and feel comfortable with electrical work) to improve the overall health and efficiency of your air conditioner unit, such as:
- Checking for freon leaks
- Checking for wiring problems
- Checking for wear and tear
Unless you know what you are doing, leave this alone! It can be extremely dangerous for untrained individuals to work with air conditioners. Standalone air conditioner units carry a very high voltage, so you should always make sure the unit is unplugged and the electricity has been discharged before attempting anything.
Additionally, consider purchasing a regular maintenance plan that includes an inspection completed by a licensed & trained professional in the HVAC industry, to come check out your unit on a regular basis. They can tell you about any potential problems they find and offer suggestions on how you can increase its efficiency.
If you follow these steps, you may save yourself a lot of time and money by cutting down on your energy bills, increasing your unit’s performance, and creating a more comfortable environment for your home. However, you still need professional maintenance to avoid bigger repair problems in the future. Remember that it is less expensive to maintain your unit as you go, rather than calling someone to repair it later on. And you know they always break down right when you need them the most!
The key to making your central air conditioner operate more efficiently is due diligence. This is a term usually used in reference to a business looking out for its customers’ best interests. But regarding your air conditioning unit, it refers to keeping your AC up to standard and running at peak efficiency, so that you prevent bigger problems down the road. Like anything else, it simply requires getting into the habit of doing these things on a regular basis. Soon, it will just become a part of what you do, and you can save energy, money, and time in the long run by keeping your central air conditioner running the best it can all year long.
The biggest benefit to following these steps is all the money you’ll be saving, but you may also appreciate the feeling of the control you finally achieve over your electrical and utility bills. It may take a while to get used to keeping your air conditioning unit around 78 degrees all of the time, but with practice, all of these steps will become second nature, and you’ll love the result that just a little preventive care can bring you.
For more tips on how to make your home more efficient, save money, and create a more comfortable environment for your home, while lengthening the life span of your units, contact us. We will be glad to come in and do a maintenance check for your home and system.
And, as always, remember the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”