It’s summertime and the temperature is getting hotter. You need to make sure your air conditioning system is operating as efficiently as possible and keep your utility bill as low as possible. Here are five tips to stay cool in the most energy- and cost-efficient manner, even during the hottest times.
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Did You Know?
Your air conditioner is working hard during the hot days of summer. But it could be working harder than it needs to, leading to unnecessary expenses related to both higher utility costs and shorter equipment lifespan. The best way to keep you cool and your costs down even under the hottest conditions is to perform a few simple maintenance steps.
Here are five things you can do to improve the performance of your air conditioning system and minimize your operational costs.
- Change air filters.
Air filters capture dust, pet hair, dirt and other airborne particulates to prevent these contaminants from interfering with your system’s operation and in-home air quality. Filters get dirty and clog up, especially quickly if you have pets and/or live in a dusty or windy area. A dirty air filter restricts air flow, building up pressure in your system, which can cause your air conditioner to ice up. Your air conditioner is forced to work harder, driving up utility cost and over time premature failure.There’s a simple way to avoid this. Change your filters every 1-3 months. The recommended frequency depends on the air filter quality and rating.
- Don’t turn the system off when you leave; instead manage your temperature settings.
Some people think turning their air conditioning system off when they are not home is the best way to lower air conditioning utility costs. It’s not. Turning off air conditioning heats up the home to the point where the system has to work harder to lower the temperature to a comfortable level when you need it, which also means it’s going to cost you more to operate, than it would if you kept the temperature at some reasonable level throughout the day. The problem gets worse if you are tuning on the system in the evening, when utility rates are typically at peak level.It’s best to just keep the home temperature a bit higher than your normally desired temperature when you aren’t home, even during the hottest points of the day because this is when utility costs are lower. Example: Your evening desired temperature is 76, then set your thermostat in the morning to 80-82 degrees while you are away. This will allow you to come home to a more comfortable environment requiring less run time to get to your desired temperature once you arrive home.To get even better control of your system, consider a programmable or wifi-enabled thermostat. That way you can either set your thermostat to achieve a desired temperature at a certain time or use an app to remotely set it when you expect to be returning home.
- Keep the outdoor unit clear of debris and pets.
Your outside air conditioning unit requires freely flowing air to function properly. Bushes, flower beds, grass, or weeds that might grow around the unit obstruct that airflow, forcing the unit to work harder than necessary. So clear away any plants or other growth that might be hindering the unit’s airflow.If you have a pet, consider adding a small fence or lattice around the unit. That eliminates the possibility of your pet confusing the unit for a fire hydrant—urine from a male dog can deteriorate the outdoor coil, decreasing efficiency and raising utility cost.
- Keep all the registers open.
It’s a common misconception that closing registers in rooms you aren’t using better redistributes cooling air to those rooms you are active in. That’s maybe a good idea for one room that is rarely used. Otherwise, keep all your registers open, even in places you aren’t frequenting. Just as a dirty air filter restricts airflow, causing the air conditioner to work harder than it needs to, closing registers has the same effect, resulting in higher utility costs and potentially premature failure. Similarly, it also makes the air conditioner work harder when you open up a closed register in a room hotter than the temperature of the entire house.
- Get all your ducts in a row.
Conditioned air circulates through your home via ductwork running through your attic and crawl space. The integrity of that ductwork is crucial to an efficiently operating system. Duct work on average can comprise up to 20 to 30 connection points. Improperly sealed or seals that have deteriorated allow air leaks, resulting in longer run times that waste cooling air in attic and crawl spaces. If each point is leaking a minimum of 1% of circulated air, you could potentially have up to 20 to 30% air loss leakage in your attic or crawl space. To prevent any leakage, all connection points should be sealed with a Mastic, Panduit straps and Duct tape.
Most of these tips you can easily do yourself. But you may not want to be bothered to change an air filter, know where it is or care, or know what is the best filter to use.
You may be also interested in a programmable or wifi—enabled thermostat, but aren’t sure how they work or which model is best for your needs, let alone how to install one.
And crawling around in a hot, damp crawl space or unfinished attic isn’t your idea of a good time. Fortunately, it is ours.
At Ongaro & Sons, our technicians like nothing better than working on your system to improve its performance. Keeping you cool is our business. Call us at 707-908-8025 to discuss what we can do to lower your utility costs and ensure the long-term performance of your air conditioning system.