Spring is well underway, and it won’t be long before air conditioners are running—and breaking down—all across the country. How can you extend the life of your air conditioner, and preserve your comfort during summer heat waves? Jason DeVries, owner of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, offers his top tips.
• Change the filter. “Changing the filter is the simplest thing that has the biggest impact on the system,” says DeVries. Depending on your usage levels, it’s recommended that you change the filter 2-4 times a year.
• Hose down your condenser (this big unit is probably sitting outside your house). “A little bit of dust on those can rob a whole lot of efficiency,” DeVries points out. Also clear away any debris—dead leaves, dog waste, litter—that you may find there. While it’s great for a condenser to be located in the shade (that helps it work more efficiently), it’s not great for shrubs or other plants to grow close to it, so prune them back.
• Learn how to program your thermostat—and then program it! Remember that heat gets trapped in the walls, flooring, and furniture, so cooling down your home takes time and energy. If you program the AC to come on when the house reaches a certain temperature during the day, it will be that much easier for the system to hit your ideal temperature after you get home and really want to cool off.
• Get an annual check-up. “Just like a car, an air conditioner does need maintenance,” says DeVries. Be sure that your annual AC maintenance includes a safety inspection of electrical components and refrigeration; lubrication, cleaning, and adjustment of the motors; clean-out of condensation; and ductwork inspection. A thorough home AC inspection will take about two hours and cost around $75.
• Plan for replacement. When an air conditioner hits the 15-year mark, it’s time for replacement with a new, more efficient system.
Efficiency is the key to the long-term health—and the temperature impact—of your air conditioning system. Heating and cooling costs account for about half of the average family’s energy bill, so get the most bang for your buck without breaking a sweat by following these tips now.
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