When the outdoor temperature starts to rise, you know air conditioning season is just around the corner. At this time of year, most homeowners are focusing on operating their air conditioning systems as efficiently as possible and in a way that minimizes damage to the system. You don't have to completely overhaul your system to achieve these goals. Just follow these dos and don'ts.
Do: Change your air filter regularly.
You might think you're saving money by changing your air filter less frequently, but in the long run, you're not. When your air filter gets dirty, your blower has to work harder to push air through it, and this increases your energy expenditure. A dirty filter can also cause dust to build up inside your air conditioner, which will decrease its life expectancy. Experts recommend changing your filter once a month when you're using your system on a daily basis. Stock up on filters at the beginning of the summer so you have them on hand as you need them.
Do: Turn the ceiling fans on (but only when you're in the room).
Ceiling fans keep air moving across your skin, which makes you feel cooler when the thermostat is left at a slightly higher temperature. You can probably get away with leaving the temperature 2 - 3 degrees higher if you use your ceiling fans. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the room to save energy. They don't actually make the room any cooler -- they just make you feel cooler -- so there's no point in leaving them on when you're not there.
Do: Check your window seals.
Many people worry about sealing their windows in the winter, but forget all about this in the summer. The warm air from outside can sneak in through gaps between the window and the frame, forcing your air conditioner to work harder to keep the home cool. In the summer, you may want to open your windows sometimes, so you don't want to caulk them shut. However, you can hang drapes to act as an extra layer of insulation between your cool home interior and the warm outdoors. The drapes will also keep the hot sunshine from warming your home interior.
Don't: Open your windows at night when the humidity levels are high.
Air conditioners work, in part, by removing the humidity from the air. If you open your windows on a humid night (even if the air is cool), you will let that humidity inside, forcing your air conditioner to work harder to eliminate it. Get into the habit of checking the humidity level before opening your windows on a cool night. The ideal relative humidity for the indoor of a home is around 40% - 50%. If the outdoor humidity is higher than this, leave those windows shut.
Don't: Leave doors between the floors in your home open.
Hot air rises. If you leave doors between the levels in your home open, the upstairs of your home will end up rather warm, while the downstairs gets overly cool. Leave the doors shut, and your home's temperature will stay more even -- and you won't be tempted to keep turning down that thermostat to encourage the upstairs to cool off.
If there are no doors between the levels of your home, consider installing some simple, fold-open doors. These are readily available at home improvement stores and usually only require a few screws to install.
With the tips above, your air conditioning unit won't have to work as hard. As a result, your energy bills will be lower and your air conditioning unit won't prematurely fall into disrepair.