When summer temperatures soar, you may think you must pay extra costs to run your air conditioner to keep your family cool and comfortable. What you may not know is there are some simple things you can do to increase the efficiency of your existing air conditioner and reap the benefits of a cooler home. Try these tips for keeping your AC running at optimal performance and increasing the comfort of your home.
Taking Care of Your Air Conditioner
You air conditioner needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Have it serviced yearly to make sure all parts are working as they should, but don't stop there. Check out other ways you can help your unit out with a few minutes of your time.
- Change the Air Filters: Air filters remove dust and debris from the air before it circulates through your AC unit. Dirty or clogged filters put added stress on your AC and prevent air from circulating properly. Change the filters every three months to make sure your air conditioner has the airflow it needs to provide you with cooled air when you need it most.
- Clean the Air Conditioner: If it has been a while since you've checked the outside condenser on your air conditioner, it probably needs cleaning. Fallen leaves and other debris can collect around the unit, affecting its efficiency. This is true of weeds and bushes growing too close to the unit. Make it a habit to check the unit frequently and keep the area clean.
- Shade Your AC Unit: Providing shade for your AC Unit reduces stress to the unit and increases its efficiency. If yours is exposed to the afternoon sun, consider locating it under the shade of nearby trees or installing a cover.
- Check Your Ductwork: Lose joints or uninsulated ductwork can be major source of air loss from your air conditioner. Check that all joints are solid and the ductwork is in good condition to avoid cooled air pouring out into unused areas of the home. Likewise, check that ductwork in attics and crawl spaces is insulated to prevent the loss of cooled air.
Reducing Heat Gain Through Windows
Nearly half of the heat gain in your home in the summer is from your windows. Blocking or reflecting the sun's rays can save on the energy costs of your air conditioner and make you feel more comfortable too. Consider these options for preventing heat gain through your windows.
- Solar Film: Install solar film on the windows to redirect the sun's rays and prevent the heat from entering your home. You can buy solar film and install it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.
- Drapes: Hang light colored drapes with a plastic (thermal) backing over all windows that receive direct sunlight. While heat gain is typically attributed to southern and western windows, any window that receives direct sunlight will add heat to your home. Drapes should be fitted close to the window and reach at least to the windowsill. Drapes that reach to the floor are an even better choice.
- Blinds: Blinds work better than shades to keep heat out. Make sure the blinds reach the windowsill and fit snugly in the window frame for the most effective barrier against heat gain. Keep the blinds closed whenever direct sunlight is hitting the window. If you must open the blinds for lighting, angle them so they reflect the light upward to a light colored ceiling to minimize heat gain and disperse the light throughout the room.
- Outside Window Covers: There are a number of outside window coverings that reduce the heat gain from the sun. Simple awnings that shade the window during the heat of the day will reduce heat gain and make your home more comfortable. Other choices include shutters, exterior blinds and exterior shades.
- Insulated Panels: Insulated panels are designed to fit snugly inside the frame of your window and can be removed when the sun isn't shining directly in the window. Homemade window quilts with an insulating inner layer can also be used in the same way. Make the window quilts to fit the windows and place Velcro around the frame of your window. Attach Velcro to the edges of the quilt and press them in place when protection from the sun's rays is needed.
There are several other things you can do to keep your home comfortable and reduce stress on your air conditioning unit. Incorporate these tips into your daily routine whenever you can.
- Avoid using heat-producing appliances during the heat of the day.
- Use fans to circulate cool air. This includes your ceiling fan.
- Avoid baking and cooking on hot days.
- Open the windows at night when the air cools outside and take advantage of natural ventilation.
Keeping your air conditioner running at optimal performance makes your family more comfortable and saves on energy costs, too. According to the United States Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for 48% of the energy use in the average American home. Doing your part to save energy is the responsible thing to do.
For more information and tips, contact HVAC contractors, like those at Weather Control Air Conditioning, Inc..