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Spring Is In The Air Print E-mail

 

Spring is here & summer will soon follow. If you haven't already turned on your air conditioning system you soon will.

 

To make your air conditioning system run more efficiently, plan to take these steps:

  • Wash the outdoor condensing unit. With the unit turned off (so it doesn't sling water at you) use your garden hose with a higher pressure nozzle & spray in through the slats that are cut in the metal housing every direction you can. You don't have to disassemble any of the unit or worry about the electronics. You should do this at least once a year, but more if it is a dusty or high pollen season.
  • Wash or replace your furnace filter. You can't breathe very well through a pillow & neither can your system. If you have a regular 1" furnace filter, plan on replacing it once a month & wash electronic air cleaner cells & prefilters monthly also. Please don't use Filtrete pleated filters as we have found that these filters are too restrictive & cause many repair problems in many units.
  • Make sure your supply & return registers are not blocked by furniture, drapes, or other items.
  • If you have high sidewall returns, now is the time to close the bottom return registers so that the hot air that rises toward the ceiling is pulled back to be cooled by the air conditioning system.
  • Don't turn your air conditioning system on & off like a light switch. It takes more energy to initially cool the house than it does to maintain that cool temperature. Turning your air conditioning system off allows the heat & humidity to build back up in the house, making your system work much harder when you turn it back on & shortening its life span. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to raise the temperature a few degrees while you are gone, but have it turn back on at least one hour before you plan to return.
  • If you plan on going on vacation for a week, leave your air conditioning system on but set the thermostat a few degrees higher while you're gone. This will keep the humidity from building up & help the system cool down faster when you return.
  • You should plan to have your system checked by a qualified technician once a year, but no longer than every two years. The technician will check the compressor, the motor & fan, the controls & the refrigerant level, to make sure that your unit is running at its best.
  • Make sure that there are no plants, fences, mulch or other obstructions within 2 feet of your outdoor unit. The unit needs unrestricted air flow to operate! Plants that shade the unit will help it operate more efficiently, but you want to be sure not to restrict the air flow around the unit. Also you will need to be sure that there is room around the unit for maintenance & repair.
  • Consider installing solar window film or awnings over your windows. Anyone sitting under a tree on a hot summer afternoon knows the cooling benefits of shade, but they may not realize just how effective it can be as a low-tech, low-cost way to cut their summer cooling bills. Shading your home - with trees and other vegetation, or with exterior and interior shades - can reduce the temperature indoors by as much as 20 degrees on a hot day! About 40 percent of the unwanted heat that builds up in your house comes in through windows. Although both exterior and interior shades can control this heat gain, exterior shades - items such as awnings, louvers, shutters, rolling shutters and solar screens - are more far effective, since they block sunlight before it enters the windows. They also protect against UV damage to drapes, furniture & carpeting.
  • Keep lights off when rooms are not in use. Lights generate heat that makes your air conditioner run more.
  • Try to wash and dry clothes, iron and cook - or any activity that produces humidity - in the morning or later in the evening when outdoor temperatures are usually cooler. Use exhaust fans while cooking or showering to control humidity, but be sure to turn them off after the moist air has left so that you don't vent air conditioned air to the outside. Use microwave ovens, which produce much less heat than stoves for cooking.
  • Use a ceiling fan to supplement your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler (and only costs a half-cent per hour to operate) so you can set your thermostat a few degrees higher and save on cooling costs. Use in occupied rooms since fans cool people, not rooms.
  •  Thirty percent of the heat in your house is absorbed through the roof. Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. Vents in the eaves allows cooler air to enter. A ridge vent can significantly reduce your cooling costs as it allows the heated air to escape.
  • Install an attic ventilation fan if you don't have one. An attic fan pulls cooler outside air into the attic through eve or gable vents & expels the hot air from the attic. The use of an attic fan for cooling the attic can reduce the size requirement of a central air conditioning system by up to 1/2 ton. Since heat rises, the second floor of your house is often hotter than the first floor & the use of an attic fan removing the heat from the attic will make this area more comfortable.
  • Dark colors absorb heat & light colors reflect heat. If you are planning on replacing your roof, consider replacing it with a lighter color. The same goes with painting or siding the exterior of the house.
  • Add insulation where possible. Adding insulation not only helps retain heat in the winter, but it also helps block heat in the summer. Attic insulation compacts over time & loses efficiency or R-value. And if you're planning to replace your siding, consider the new insulated siding that's available.