These tips will help you use your air conditioner efficiently and in the end is a way of saving money since your electricity bill will be lower, and in some cases can prolong the life of your unit since you may be able to catch a problem that could worsen if you just keep running it without having it serviced. Please bear in mind that I’ve lived in Arizona all my life and this information is derived from my personal experience in using air conditioning. I am not a professional.
- Keep Your Filters Changed: I cannot emphasize enough how important this chore is. This is THE NUMBER ONE thing you can do to increase the longevity of your unit. How often will depend heavily on where you live. For example, if you live in the desert of Arizona with dirt roads around your house, it’s going to be a lot more dusty and you may need to change filters as often as once a week (that’s how often we need to change ours). On the other hand, if you live in an area that is not as dusty you may be able to get by with the recommended once per month. Get into the habit of changing your filter each month when you pay your electricity bill. Special considerations to landlords: Do not depend on your tenant to remember to change the filter. At the very least, remind your client each month when it is time to change the filter.
- Don’t Be Tempted To Use Thick Filters. Apparently the thick filters make it harder for the unit to run properly, hindering the flow of air, so it is best to just use the cheap, thin filters and replace as necessary.
- Run One System at a Time: Some homes have what is called a piggyback system, with both an air conditioning unit and an evaporative cooler. If you have one of these systems, do NOT run both
at the same time. Evaporative coolers work by putting moisture into the air, while air conditioners pull the moisture FROM the air. You will ruin your air conditioner by running both units at the
same time. It is much more economical to use an evaporative cooling system so use that by itself until the monsoon arrives. You’ll know when it’s become too humid when the air becomes muggy and warm. It is then time to seal the doors and windows, put the damper in place and crank up the air conditioning unit. There should be a damper in place to close the air vent to the evaporative cooler once you start to use the air conditioning unit.
- Keep Doors and Windows Closed. If you are accustomed to using the evaporative cooler (which does need to have a few windows cracked in order to work efficiently) you may not realize that you cannot do the same with an air conditioner. Keep doors and windows closed and sealed properly when using an air conditioning unit.
- Test for Leaks: Check for leaks around doors and windows. Close blinds in your house and turn out the lights and look around the cracks of the door to see if light is coming in, a sure sign you have
- Lower Raise The Temperature When Away from Home: If you’re going to be gone for the day turn the thermostat up to 84 or 86 degrees. If you’re going to be on vacation during the summer, don’t be tempted to leave the air off altogether. If your home gets too hot you may find that your house is aging prematurely, for example cabinets can warp, glue can separate from veneer, etc.
- Be Aware That the Unit Isn’t Running Constantly: As it gets hotter and more humid the unit will run more often; however, it should not run constantly. It should cycle on and off fairly regularly. You can check the temperature split to make sure it is running properly. Take a ordinary kitchen thermometer and place it in between the grills of the register where the return is located. The return is where your filter is located. Once you have the temperature there, go to the register that is the farthest away from the return. Stick the thermometer into the grills to get the temperature. Once you have those two temperatures, compare the difference. You should find a difference of 20 degrees. For example, if the air at the return is 80°F, the air coming out of the register should be 60°F. This indicates you are getting good air flow across the coil. Anything higher or lower there’s a problem.
- Abnormal Noises: Listen for any out of the ordinary noises when the motor starts, this can cue you to possible problems. If you hear abnormal noises, do not continue to run the unit. Call an air
conditioning company for assistance. When we had our old split system (one part of the unit in the house, the other outside) on occasion a rogue field mouse would get into the area where the blower was and when the unit would come on it would vibrate or make clunking sounds. Once we figured out what that noise was, we knew to turn the unit off and check.
- Air Won’t Cool Down Home. One thing that can cause your unit to run constantly and produce warm air can be due to dirty coils (primarily caused by not changing your filter as needed) which
have iced over. In the split system units you may be able to see the coil behind where the filter resides. It is very important to keep your air filters cleaned regularly; if you allow them to get dirty and clogged your coil will in turn get dirty and clogged. If you see that your coil is iced over, turn the unit off and call an air conditioning technician because your coils need to be cleaned. If you are handy, just do an Internet search for the following words: do it yourself clean air conditioner coils.
- Make Sure Vents Are Uncovered: This throws the air balance off. If you are trying to save money on electricity by not cooling the spare bedroom, then you will need to make sure the room is completely sealed, meaning the crack under the door, the register in the door or at the top of the door that allows air to pass through. The system will pull hot air out of the room that is not being cooled thereby defeating your purpose of trying to not cool that room.
Let’s stay cool out there!