Temperatures are climbing and the hot weather is here to stay!  The key to staying cool all summer long is a properly maintained air conditioning system.  Proper air conditioning maintenance can not only help keep you cool during these hot summer months, it can also save you money.

You should schedule and perform annual pre-season air conditioner maintenance.  Your AC maintenance should include the following activities:

  • Check air filters – You should check and change your filters on a monthly basis, if necessary.  Dirty air filters will restrict air flow and can potentially damage your heating and cooling equipment.
  • Adjust thermostat settings – As the seasons change, your indoor air temperature preferences will change too.
  • Inspect and clean the condensate drain – A blockage here can increase indoor humidity levels, or worse, cause water damage.
  • Clean evaporator and condensing coils – Dirty coils reduce energy efficiency and make your equipment work harder, shortening its life span.
  • Check the refrigerant level - Improper levels decrease energy efficiency.  If necessary, make adjustments according to manufacturer specifications.
  • Clean the blower – Restricted air flow will cause unnecessary decreases in efficiency and will negatively impact your home comfort.
  • Check for debris - Clear away leaves, grass, weeds, plants and other debris that block airflow through the outdoor condensing unit.

After you know that the AC is tuned and ready you can still improve comfort, reduce electricity use and save money with these tips:

  • Don’t cool the great outdoors - Consider blower door testing and follow up weatherization work to keep cool air inside.
  • Install a programmable thermostat – Don’t keep the AC running at full capacity when no one is home.  It is recommended that you set the thermostat to 78 degrees when home and 85-88 degrees when you are away.
  • Use ceiling fans - They are in expensive to run and they can make it feel 5 degrees cooler.  Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms so turn them off when you leave the room.
  • Consider Lighting - Interior house lighting creates heat as a by-product; try to use indirect day lighting when it is available for indoor tasks. Also replace incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, they give off a fraction of the heat output of standard incandescent bulbs and can save 12 percent of energy use.
  • Plan chores – Save cooking and laundry for the coolest hours of the day.  Cooking during the heat of the day can raise the kitchen temperature 10 degrees.  Fire up the grill and cook outside and plan to run the dishwasher and dryer overnight.
  • Isolate and cool your attic - Check your insulation level at the ceiling. Many houses built before the ’80s have minimal or incomplete attic/ceiling insulation.  It is relativity cheap to add blown in Fiberglas or cellulose insulation to an accessible attic.

Neglecting to properly clean and maintain your cooling system can result in inefficiency or failure and this can cost you a lot of money.  Remember a well-maintained air conditioning system has a higher capacity and will last longer, saving you energy and money in the long run.

Enjoy the long, hot summer in the cool comfort of you air conditioning without breaking the bank with these simple and easy tips.