Tips to Keep Your AC Unit running in Tip Top Shape in July and August
Rest assured, there are ways to help your central AC system run more efficiently during the hottest months of summer in Virginia. It begins with changing your filters and having your system checked by a licensed professional like Virginia Air Heating and Cooling. As a homeowner, your cooling and heating system can quickly become very costly affecting your utility bills and not to mention the costs of repairing your HVAC system. Taking some simple steps can reduce the likelihood of breakdowns, minimize repairs and maximize your cooling efficiency.
Here are a few tips we are happy to share.
Check Air Filters Monthly. If you're trying to figure out how to make your air conditioner work better, checking the air filters monthly is the best place to start. The more your system runs, the more dirt and debris your filter absorbs AND the harder your system has to work to draw in air. Dirty air filters not only increase energy use but also put more strain on a system. If you think about it, the same air cycling through your filter to be heated or cooled and sent back out into your home is also the same air cooling down your fan motors and moving parts.
Restrict your air flow and you probably can see why your utility bills can jump in cost, or worse, shorten the life expectancy of parts. So you can see how a clean filter(s) is not only crucial but one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your air conditioner's performance and efficiency plus help maintain your system’s working parts.
Make Sure Interior Doors and Vents are Open and Unblocked. Removing furniture, household items, dust and any debris from indoor floor, wall and ceiling supply and return vents help maintain steady airflow from your system. Keeping all interior doors open during the day helps air to flow back to your HVAC system which can equate to better cooling in all rooms of your home. The better the air flow, the faster and more efficiently your system cools or heats your home.
Adjust Your Thermostat. Adjusting your indoor temperature 5 to 7 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save money and energy. With a programmable thermostat, you can set it to automatically adjust the temperature for different times of the day or during times you are going to be away from home.
Take Advantage of The Sun Or NOT. In summer, keeping curtains and blinds closed in the heat of the day helps the ac maintain temperature indoors. When direct sun hits the windows in your home, your closed window coverings can reduce unwanted solar heat gain. When sunlight is absorbed by your window glass, it converts it to radiant heat and can trap heat inside your home. In the winter months, opening your window coverings on sunny days can help retain heat in your home.
Rethink Running Your Appliances During Peak Hours. Avoid using your dryer, oven, dishwasher and clothes washer in the hottest hours of the day. Running your dryer will cause warm air to be drawn into your home, using your oven will add additional warm air to your home and those heated cycles for washing dishes or clothes not only creates heat but moisture as well. All of these can cause your air conditioner to have to work harder. If you can, set those items to run during the night. When you are ready to go to bed, set it and forget it!
Keep Heat Producing Appliances AWAY from your Thermostat. Having heat producing appliances such as lamps, clocks, computers, printers and so on, near your thermostat will cause your thermostat to turn your AC on prematurely and cause your system to run longer and work harder than it may need to.
Run Your System’s FanON instead of AUTO and/or Install Ceiling Fans. If the air in your home circulates freely, you’ll feel cooler, even when the temperature inside is the same. Running your system’s fan and/or ceiling fans in your home can be a simple and effective way to circulate air, keep your home with more even-temperatures and help you feel cooler without setting your thermostat lower!
Keep 3 to 4 Feet Around Your Outdoor Condenser Clear of Growth and Household Items. Your outdoor unit will work most efficiently if it is allowed the proper air flow to draw through its coils. Trying to hide your unit with bushes and fences can be prettier but not practical. Besides, every home has an outdoor unit or two or three so trying to disguise them may cause them to stand out even more! Remember, your comfort and holding onto your money is more important than what may be considered an eye sore.
Keep Your Condensate Drain Clear. Did you know your central ac condenses water? There is a drain attached to your indoor coil pan just for this reason. If you are able to flush one cup of chlorine bleach down your condensate drain followed by a gallon of water, you can minimize growth and keep your drain clear. Keeping your drain line free of debris can save your attic or basement from taking on water if the drain becomes clogged.
Insulate Exposed Ductwork. Exposed ductwork can potentially condense water or “sweat” in certain conditions if they are not properly insulated or sealed. This also helps with heat loss/gain through your air ducts.
Check your insulation in Your Attic and Walls. Insulation helps keeps you warm in the winter and your home cooler in the summer by keeping the conditioned air indoors. If the insulation in your attic and/or walls is damaged or not the right R-value, the energy you use to cool your home will be quickly radiated outside. As a result, your system will have to work harder and longer than it needs to keep your home cool.
Weatherize Doors and Windows. Small leaks around doors and windows and even in the attic can add up to big increases to your utility costs over time. These small gaps let cold air out and hot air in, which forces the AC to work overtime, eventually leading to expensive repairs to your system.
Consider Your Landscaping. Did you know that the landscape around your house has a direct impact on the temperature inside. If you have heat-radiating elements such as asphalt, concrete, and rocks close to your walls, they absorb and radiate heat, which increases the temperature around your home. This increase in temperature makes your AC work harder to keep things cool indoors. Consider adding trees with big canopies to provide shade. A couple of well-placed trees can lower the temperature and cool the air around your home.
Understanding the different parts of your HVAC system and keeping it running efficiently will keep your system in top working condition for when you need it most this summer.