Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to make sure your home’s air conditioner is in great shape for the season. Here are 10 seasonal maintenance steps you can take now to optimize your air conditioner’s performance, save money and keep your cool.
1. Seal cracks and prevent air leaks
Maximize your air conditioner’s energy efficiency by locating and sealing any cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Add insulation where needed, including around electrical outlets on outside walls, which can allow cooled air to escape or let hot air in.
2. Position the thermostat correctly
In order to accurately read the temperature in the home, the thermostat should be placed on an interior wall, away from any heat sources. This includes air vents, lamps, heat-producing appliances and direct sunlight.
3. Upgrade to a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat, also known as a programmable thermostat, makes it nearly effortless to adjust the temperature in your home at specified times of the day to maximize efficiency and save energy. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature when no one is home. Most new thermostats allow you to save several options for different days of the week or times of day, depending on your particular needs and schedule. This way, the house is always cool when you need it to be, without wasting energy and money.
4. Close blinds
If there are areas of your home that get a lot of direct sun during the day, consider keeping the blinds or curtains closed to prevent the home from heating up and causing your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
5. Use a ceiling fan
Set your ceiling fan to run in a counterclockwise direction to push down the air directly under the fan. This creates a wind-chill effect. A ceiling fan is far less expensive to operate than an air conditioner, (approximately $1.50 a month for half a day versus $25, respectively) and can keep your A/C from overworking.
6. Raise the temperature
For every degree below 78, energy consumption increases about 8 percent. You can save a considerable amount for every degree above 78 you are willing to set your thermostat at (about $8 per degree for every $100 of energy costs).
7. Check air filters
Replacing your air filter every one to three months, depending on how quickly it becomes dirty, is an easy and economical way to keep your system clean and running at maximum efficiency. It also will prevent breakdowns caused by blocked airflow and lengthen the life of the system.
8. Keep you A/C in the shade
Shading your outdoor unit will help your system run more efficiently. The air in a shaded area is substantially cooler than surrounding air in the sun. Keeping your A/C at a lower temperature makes it easier for the system to cool the air.
9. Use landscaping to your advantage
Avoid landscaping that absorbs and radiates heat (such as rock, cement or asphalt) on the west and south sides of your home. If you must have those materials, make sure they are shaded.
10. Call an HVAC professional
Regular maintenance before the heat of the summer hits will ensure that your air conditioner is ready to go when you need it and is far less likely to have unexpected breakdowns. Annual service may be required to keep the warranty in force and will extend the life and efficiency of the system.