Since air conditioners are so expensive to install, it’s tempting to not take care of them once they’re already in place. However, if you want your air conditioner to last a long time, there are several steps you can take to keep it running optimally at all times. These 10 tips will help your air conditioners remain cool and quiet, all summer long.
1. Check and clean the filters
One of the most basic, but often overlooked aspects of keeping your air conditioner system in good working order is cleaning or replacing its filters. Over time, dust, lint, and other pollutants will accumulate on these filters. This buildup blocks airflow, decreasing efficiency. Filters that haven’t been cleaned in a while may also be ineffective at reducing airborne allergens. To avoid paying more than you need to for an energy bill, check and clean these filters when needed (or better yet – replace them!).
If you live in a home with pets, it’s especially important to keep these filters clean. Pets are notorious for shedding hair all over their living spaces – including inside your HVAC unit! Hair can clog up your filter, increasing energy costs and potentially even causing damage to your equipment.
2. Seal off any open doorways
If you don’t already have central air conditioning, go check—are there any spaces open between rooms? And don’t just check doors and windows—check ceilings, chimneys, and vents. Heat rises so it’s important to get that area blocked off. Taping around outlets with plastic or using expanding foam sealant is a good way to start blocking off these pathways.
But make sure you leave some room for circulation; sealing everything up too tightly can cause heat to build up in one spot and damage your equipment. It may take some time to figure out how much space you need to leave, but an HVAC technician will be able to help with that. You may also want to consider installing fans throughout your home if you haven’t done so already; circulating cool air will help ensure even cooling of each room.
3. Don’t block air vents with furniture
Blocking vents can cause a buildup of heat in your home, which makes it more difficult for you cooling system to properly cool down. If you have furniture that’s near a vent, try repositioning it so that air can circulate freely. Or, if you need extra help keeping cool during hot months, consider installing whole-house fans throughout your home.
4. Use Air Conditioners guards against hot sunbeams
The sun’s rays are a major cause of overheating in rooms, so try using window coverings (in addition to keeping windows shut and blinds/curtains drawn) to block some heat. Depending on how you access your room, it might also be worth investing in drapes that can be closed and opened as needed. As an added bonus, these fabrics can help insulate against cold during winter months.
5. Use window treatments for shading
To create a cooling window dressing, consider using sheer curtains or blinds that allow you to see outside but won’t offer direct heat entry into your home. Another option is to add a layer of plywood between interior and exterior windows. If you choose darker blinds or drapes, they can also help insulate windows during winter months and lower heating costs. By investing in energy efficient blinds and shades, you not only save money on cooling, but heating costs as well.
6. Check for room temperature problems
Is it really hot out? Before you rush off to set your thermostat at a colder setting, take a moment and make sure that’s actually what’s causing your air conditioners system to feel warm. Is there something blocking air flow? Are you holding something in front of one of your vents? Is any part of your HVAC system in disrepair or malfunctioning? These are all common problems that can cause a room to feel warmer than normal when your air conditioners is running. If you determine that everything is working properly, then it’s time to adjust your settings accordingly.
7. Check ductwork, insulation, supply registers
Properly insulating and ventilating an air conditioners system can be a challenge in some homes. Making sure that supply vents don’t leak, cooling coils are clean, and ductwork is well sealed will ensure that you are maximizing airflow in your home. Many homeowners fail to check ductwork for leaks or gaps when troubleshooting air conditioners problems, but it can lead to drastically higher cooling costs if not properly maintained.
8. Unplug major appliances when not in use
This will help reduce energy waste, and therefore save money. The average U.S. household spends $100 a year on wasted energy. By unplugging appliances like televisions, microwave ovens, and chargers when not in use, you’ll make a significant dent in that number—and you’ll also do less damage to your air conditioners unit. For example, if you have an old tube TV plugged into an outlet all day long, that can cost you up to $30 per year in wasted energy. So take some time today to plug everything back into its power strip or surge protector when it’s not being used. It’ll pay off later!
9. Replace damaged or worn out equipment
Old air conditioners don’t work as well as new ones, wasting energy and costing you money. Also, according to an energy-efficiency study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory , a unit that is just five years old could be using up to 35 percent less electricity than one that’s ten years old or older. A cooling system should be serviced every year at least once, but preferably twice, and checked for damage during each service call.
10. Keep an eye on Freon levels
Freon is a gas that keeps an air conditioner cold. When it’s low, an air conditioner won’t work as well. Too much Freon, however, and it can be dangerous. Keep tabs on your Freon levels by keeping up with regular tune-ups and cleaning—or by setting up a reminder system for yourself.
There are several apps available for smart phones that will remind you when it’s time to change out your filters or check in with a professional. It’s worth noting here that some newer models of air conditioning units do not use Freon at all; if you have one of these, you will need to get in touch with a professional right away if there are any issues.
Also read: How to avoid AC from over-heating