Surviving Summers: Best AC Practices for Homeowners

1. Understanding the Key Components of an Air Conditioning Unit How Your AC Works img2 18

When the temperatures soar, your AC is your lifeline. But constantly using AC leads to high energy bills and can put unnecessary wear and tear on the system. 

The good news is that you can optimize your AC for maximum comfort and efficiency. 

So, in this blog, we’ll help you find best practices to give your AC a break, reduce energy costs, and create a home that feels like a cool oasis even on the hottest days.

Let’s get started!

Best AC Practices to Beat the Heat

With some clever strategies and small adjustments, you can change your AC into a superhero of cool comfort — all while saving money. So, here are the practices that make the biggest difference.

Thermostat Smarts

Your thermostat is the control center of your AC, so it’s worth getting to know it better! Small adjustments can have a big impact. 

For most people, a temperature between 76-78 degrees F strikes the balance between comfort and efficiency. Each degree lower adds to your energy costs. Programmable thermostats go even further. 

Set it to automatically raise the temperature when you’re awake or asleep and cool things down before you get home. Not only does this save energy, but it also gives your AC a bit of a breather during the hottest hours of the day.

Free the Airflow

Your air conditioning unit can’t do its job if it’s struggling to push cool air through your home. Make sure all air vents and registers are clear of obstructions like furniture, rugs, or drapes. Blocked airflow forces your air conditioning unit to work harder, wasting energy.

While you’re at it, open any interior doors you can. This helps cool air circulate more freely — creating more even temperatures throughout your home and reducing those hot or stuffy spots.

Keep Filters Fresh

Your AC’s air filter is its first line of defense against dust, pet hair, and other airborne particles. A clogged filter reduces airflow, makes your system work harder, and even affects indoor air quality. 

How often to change your filter depends on your household – pets, allergies, etc., but every 1-3 months is a good guideline. Check your filter’s packaging for specific recommendations. A clean filter is one of the easiest ways to keep your AC running smoothly and efficiently

Seal the Leaks

Think of air leaks as open windows and doors, letting cool air escape and hot air sneak in. This makes your AC work overtime. Check for leaks around doors and windows – gaps, cracks, or worn weatherstripping. Simple solutions like caulk or weatherstripping can make a big difference. 

Don’t forget your attic or crawlspace! Look for gaps around pipes, ducts, or where wires enter the house — these are common culprits for major leaks.

Harness the Power of Shade

The sun’s heat pouring through your windows turns your home into a greenhouse! Strategic use of curtains, blinds, or even exterior shades can significantly reduce the amount of heat your AC has to battle. 

Prioritize windows that get direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Even better, plant trees or shrubs to provide natural shade — it’s a long-term solution that adds beauty to your property too.

Ceiling Fans to the Rescue

Ceiling fans don’t actually cool the air, but they make a room feel cooler by circulating air and creating a breeze effect. This allows you to raise your thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing comfort. 

For the best results, make sure your ceiling fan is rotating counterclockwise in the summer (this pushes the air downwards). Ceiling fans are your AC’s energy-saving sidekick!

Think Outside the (AC) Box

Sometimes even the best-maintained AC needs help, especially if you have a super hot room or one area that stays uncomfortably warm. 

Instead of cranking the AC for the whole house, consider a portable AC unit for spot cooling. It’s a good option for rooms that aren’t used all the time. 

In dry climates, evaporative coolers (also called swamp coolers) are another alternative that uses far less energy than traditional AC.

Give Your AC a Break

The less heat your AC has to battle, the more efficient it will be. Look for simple ways to reduce heat inside your home. Use your grill or cook outdoors during the hottest hours of the day. 

Run heat-generating appliances (dishwasher, clothes dryer) in the evening or early morning. Small adjustments like these can really add up!

The Value of Professional Maintenance

Just like your car, your AC benefits from regular tune-ups by an HVAC technician. An annual inspection and maintenance help catch small issues before they become expensive problems. 

This includes tasks that are beyond the typical DIYer’s skillset, like checking refrigerant levels, testing electrical components, and giving condenser coils a thorough cleaning.

When to Upgrade: Signs Your AC is Past its Prime

Air conditioners don’t last forever. As yours gets older, it naturally becomes less efficient and more prone to breakdowns. While regular maintenance helps extend its lifespan, at some point, an upgrade becomes the smarter long-term decision. 

So, how do you know when it’s time? Here are some key signs. 

Frequent Repairs

If you’re calling your HVAC technician more often than you change the air filters, it’s a sign of trouble. Constant repairs are not only disruptive, but those costs add up. At some point, it becomes more cost-effective to put that money towards a new, more reliable system.

Skyrocketing Energy Bills

Does your AC seem to be running all the time, but your energy bills keep going through the roof? Older systems lose efficiency, meaning they use more and more energy to provide the same level of cooling. If you’re ready for an upgrade, a newer, high-efficiency air conditioning replacement can slash your energy costs.

Inconsistent Cooling

Hot and cold spots throughout your home, weak airflow, or rooms that never seem to get as cool as they used to all suggest your AC is struggling to keep up. This could be due to aging components or a system that’s simply not sized correctly for your space.

Age Matters

Most ACs have a lifespan of 10-15 years. If yours is on the older end of that range, even with good maintenance, it’s wise to start considering a replacement. It’s likely to break down more frequently, and you’ll miss out on the energy savings and comfort of newer technology.

Strange Noises and Odors

Grinding, squealing, or other unusual noises aren’t just annoying; they can indicate serious problems. Similarly, a musty or unpleasant odor shouldn’t be ignored. These issues may be repairable, but they can also signal internal issues that are costly to fix.

Conclusion

Staying cool during the summer doesn’t have to break the bank. By being smart about your AC use, you can save money and energy. Regular maintenance, strategic thermostat settings, and simple home improvements keep you comfortable without the outrageous bills. 

And, sometimes the best way to beat the heat is to step away from the AC altogether — embrace those pool days and refreshing evening walks!

Jerryloams
Jerryloams
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