When the temperatures rise and the heat of summer sets in, your air conditioner becomes one of the most important appliances in your home. But if you don’t take care of it, you may end up with major repairs or breakdowns in the middle of the dog days of summer.
Air conditioning or AC service and maintenance ensure your system operates efficiently, provides consistent cooling, and doesn’t strain your energy bills. Here are 5 essential AC tips from the pros at Scottsdale Air to help you keep your system running at its best.
Set the Optimal Temperature
Air conditioners have to work hard to keep your home cool, which adds wear and tear and increases your energy bills. If you optimize your thermostat, you can get the best comfort without skyrocketing costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the recommended temperature setting in your home during the summer is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This may seem a little high, but it’s the optimal balance of energy usage, comfort, and environmental impact.
You should also adjust your thermostat and settings based on the time of day and whether you’re home. For example, when you’re away at work, you should set your thermostat to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set it as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re out at work, as long as you don’t have pets or family at home.
If you like your home to be a little cooler, you can try adding a dehumidifier to remove some of the mugginess in your home. You could also hang window treatments that block sunlight and prevent heat from entering through your windows.
How to find your optimal temperature:
- Try setting the thermostat for 81 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days.
- Slowly drop the temperature by two degrees over a few days and see how the temperature feels.
- At night, set the temperature a little higher and sleep in summer nightwear with just a sheet, rather than keeping your room cool and using a heavy blanket.
Try Programmable Thermostats
Programmable thermostats are an ideal option to optimize your home’s energy use. Programmable thermostats come in several types to suit your needs, so you can program the settings to give your AC a break and keep your home comfortable.
Here are some benefits of programmable thermostats:
- Money savings:Reducing energy usage is a key concern for many homeowners. Programmable thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature to keep your home comfortable or reduce energy usage while you’re away.
- Consistent temperature:Programmable thermostats maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home. Instead of running the AC around the clock, you can give it a break during the day and program it to cool your home only when you’re there.
- Advanced features:Some thermostats have advanced features that you can use to change your temperature remotely using a mobile app or virtual assistant.
- Zoned cooling: Programmable thermostats can be used to regulate temperature in each zone to customize your cooling in different areas.
- Automated adjustments:Instead of adjusting the thermostat multiple times throughout the day, a programmable thermostat allows you to schedule temperature settings to ensure that your home is always the temperature you want it to be without all the tedium.
Turn on Ceiling Fans
You don’t need to use your ceiling fans to cool your home on their own, but they can be a big help to maximize your air conditioning unit. According to the Department of Energy, you can use a ceiling fan to supplement your air conditioner’s cooling and raise the thermostat about 4 degrees Fahrenheit with no impact on your comfort.
Unlike air conditioners, ceiling fans don’t lower the temperature in a room. They offer more of a “wind chill” effect that creates a breeze that cools you down when it’s hot. Fans are designed to cool people, however, not rooms, so you’re not getting any cooling if you leave a fan going in an empty room.
One of the key parts of getting the most out of your ceiling fan is setting it to spin in the right direction, however. In the summer, you should set your fan to turn counterclockwise to create a downdraft that circulates the cool air around you. All you have to do to change the direction is flip the switch on the fan’s body.
Seal and Insulate Your Home
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs for an average of 11% on total energy costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation.
Though it can be a lot of work, there are several benefits to sealing and insulating your home before summer hits.
Save Energy and Money
Air that leaks through your home’s outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings wastes a lot of energy and increases your utility bills. A well-sealed home with proper insulation can make a real difference in your utility bills.
Insulation keeps your home warm in winter and cool in summer. If you install proper insulation, you can seal leaks and ensure that your home isn’t losing cooled air in summer – or warmed air in winter. You’ll not only be more comfortable, but you won’t pay a lot more in utility bills for air leaks. Proper insulation also prevents high humidity, reduces interior noise, and keeps pollen, dust, and insects from coming inside.
Here are some tips to seal air leaks:
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air
- Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, electrical wiring, and ducts come through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits
- Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls
- Inspect dirty spots on any visual insulation for air leaks and mold
- Look for dirty spots on your ceiling and carpet that may indicate air leaks at interior wall or ceiling joints
- Use foam sealant on large gaps around baseboards, windows, and other places that may allow air leaks
- Replace exterior door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets’
- Seal air leaks around chimneys, furnaces, and water heater vents with sheetrock
- Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed
Invest in Regular Maintenance
Your air conditioner works hard to keep your home cool and comfortable through the long summer. If you neglect regular maintenance, you will experience a decline in your air conditioner’s performance while it uses more and more energy.
Here are some maintenance tasks that you need to schedule:
Air Conditioner Filters
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters reduce the amount of airflow and reduce the system’s efficiency. A clogged airflow also deposits dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impairs its ability to absorb heat.
Ideally, your air filters should be cleaned or replaced every month or so during the warmer months. If you have pets or live in a dusty area, you may need to replace yours more often.
Air Conditioner Coils
The evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over months and years of service. A clean air filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. Over time, the coil collects dirt that reduces airflow, preventing it from absorbing heat.
Your evaporator coil should be cleaned at least once a year. Outdoor condenser coils may become dirty faster as well. Falling leaves or lawn mower debris can end up on the condenser unit, so be sure to trim the foliage back.
The aluminum fins on the evaporator and condenser coils can become bent and block airflow through the coil. You can use a fin comb to return them to their normal position or schedule maintenance from a professional HVAC technician at Scottsdale Air.
Condensate drains can become clogged and prevent your unit from reducing humidity, which may lead to excess moisture in your home. You can clean the condensate drain with a stiff wire to keep it clear.
Schedule Professional Maintenance
While there are some tasks you can perform on your own as a homeowner, such as changing the air filter, you should schedule professional maintenance for your air conditioner. Professionals not only have the tools and expertise to do the job right, but they can identify any possible problems when they’re minor repairs. If you wait, you may end up with a major breakdown and emergency service in the middle of the busy summer season.
At Scottsdale Air, we offer regular AC maintenance and an annual maintenance membership. The membership saves you money and ensures that you have a standing appointment for your air conditioner’s maintenance at your convenience. You can give your AC a tune up right before summer hits to have an efficient system that keeps your home comfortable without skyrocketing energy bills.
Do you need air conditioning repair and maintenance? Contact us at Scottsdale Air to learn more about our AC maintenance options and schedule your appointment!