Keeping your air conditioner running efficiently is as much about staying comfortable as it is about saving energy costs. Without some effort, your AC will slowly start losing its efficiency, leaving you with higher bills, more strain on the system, and an uncomfortable home. Use these eight tips to keep your AC running efficiently throughout the summer.

1. Keep an Eye On Your Air Filters

Your system’s air filter keeps airborne contaminants out of the system, preventing them from settling on sensitive components and causing significant internal airflow restrictions. However, the nature of the air filter’s job means it will clog, restricting airflow. The best way to keep your system efficient all summer is to routinely change the filter.

The common 1- and 2-inch filter needs changing every 30 to 90 days. Your home’s indoor air quality and whether the filter is flat or pleated will determine how long it lasts. Plan to check the filter each month and gently vacuum off the intake side to give your efficiency a boost between filter changes.

2. Get Professional AC Maintenance

Next to your air filter, plan to stay on top of your air conditioner’s maintenance, which a professional technician should complete. Parts of your air conditioner will still get dirty because of small particles that flow through your air filter or come in through ductwork leaks. These particles will collect on the circulating fan wheel and the evaporator coil, further restricting airflow. Additionally, the outside condensing coil will get dirty from dust and pollen, restricting airflow through the coil and making it difficult to vent the heat the refrigerant absorbs to cool your air.

During system maintenance, your technician will clean these areas to ensure they can circulate the appropriate air. Further, they’ll test the refrigerant level to make sure there’s enough to prevent a system freeze, which kills the system’s efficiency. Then they’ll test all of the system’s components to make sure they are operating optimally and that the system is cycling appropriately. Finally, they’ll tighten electrical connections and mounting hardware to reduce the strain while the system runs. These tasks work together to keep the system operating at its peak efficiency each year.

3. Take Time to Clear Around Your Outside Condensing Unit

Aside from dirt and pollen restricting airflow through your outside condensing unit, things around your unit can also reduce the air moving through the coil. This can be as simple as things sitting too close to the unit, but it can also be vegetation growing up around the unit. Especially problematic are vining weeds that climb up through the frame of the coil housing.

To ensure that air can move freely through the unit, it needs at least 2 feet clear around all sides. That will allow enough air to flow into the unit. However, it needs at least 5 feet above the unit to allow the heat to flow out and dissipate without building up in the unit.

4. Make Use of Your Thermostat Programs

Almost all digital thermostats come equipped with some form of programmable feature. These programs allow you to automatically adjust your home’s temperature to achieve better efficiency. Most households have a block of hours each day where no one is home, and the energy and strain of keeping the house cool are wasted.

The Department of Energy recommends adjusting your thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees during these hours. If you can make this adjustment for 8 hours each day, you can save up to about 10% of your summer energy costs. Lower energy costs are one of the indicators of better efficiency.

5. Leverage Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans don’t cool the air. However, they make the air feel several degrees cooler, allowing you to remain comfortable with a higher thermostat setting. The closer your thermostat setting is to the air outside, the less energy your air conditioner will use to reach and maintain the house’s temperature.

6. Fix Small Problems Quickly

You may notice small problems with your system and shrug them off without paying much attention. These symptoms could include less air coming from your vents, air that’s not as cool, or even noises that aren’t normal for your system.

HVAC systems, including air conditioners, won’t fix themselves when there’s a problem. Rather, even these small issues will strain your system, causing it to consume more energy while cooling your home. Further, these small issues will eventually compound until larger problems lead to a catastrophic failure.

During AC maintenance, your technician will look for small problems you may not have noticed. You’ll be able to resolve these problems before they significantly impact your system’s efficiency.

7. Use an Energy Recovery Ventilator

Your home must exchange some of the air inside with the air outside, which is known as ventilation. This process is a substantial source of energy loss because of the warm air that comes in and the cool air that goes out. An energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, helps reduce that energy loss.

These special devices have a heat exchanger inside. As the warm air comes in from outside, the heat transfers to the cooler air heading out. This reduces the amount your system has to work to cool the fresh air.

8. Know When It’s Time for a Replacement

Air conditioners have an expected lifespan of 10 to 15 years when maintained annually. As the system ages and approaches the end of its useful service life, its efficiency will begin decreasing. Many people wait to replace their system until it suffers a catastrophic failure, which often happens after its efficiency has dropped substantially.

Rather than waiting, you can plan to replace your air conditioner, avoiding the cost of lower efficiency and more repairs. Aside from keeping an eye on the age of your system, several other warning signs may indicate that it’s time for the replacement. First, keep an eye on your energy consumption. If it continues climbing compared to the year prior, it may be time for a replacement. You can also evaluate your repair costs. If you have a single repair that’s more than 50% of the cost of a new system or if the sum of all the repairs over the last two years multiplied by the unit’s age is greater than the cost of the new unit, it may be time for that replacement.

Property owners around Bountiful trust Blue Best Plumbing, Heating, Air, Generators, the only woman-owned and operated HVAC company in Utah, to keep their homes comfortable. Our NATE-certified technicians provide heating and AC maintenance, repair, installation, indoor air quality, and fireplace services. Call to schedule your AC maintenance appointment with our award-winning team today.

company icon