As the summer heat continues climbing, you’re no doubt thankful for the cool air your air conditioning kicks out. However, you’re also likely starting to see those energy bills as the temperatures climb higher. Here’s how to get the most from your air conditioning this summer without also draining your retirement accounts.

Understand How Your Air Conditioner Works

To really understand all of how to get the most from your air conditioner, it’s important to understand how it works. Doing so allows you to look at your home and system for even more ways to help improve its performance.

Your air conditioner works on the simple premise of circulation. The air it circulates is what actually cools your home. However, the refrigerant your AC circulates is what cools that air.

In addition to circulating, your system must also regulate the refrigerant. It must reduce the refrigerant pressure as it comes into the evaporator coil to make it cold. As it goes to the condensing coil, it must increase the pressure to make it hot.

This cyclical process allows the refrigerant to absorb heat from inside and vent it to the air outside. Everything you can do to improve your system’s performance will help with either the circulation or regulation.

Change Your Air Filters

The easiest thing for anyone to do for their HVAC system is to change their air filters regularly. As it pulls air into the system, the filter removes most of the airborne contaminants, protecting the components inside.

Because of the job it performs, the amount of air that passes through the filter slowly degrades. As this happens, it reduces the amount of air circulating, adding strain to the system. This added strain leads to increased energy consumption and additional repairs.

To keep this from happening, your filter needs regular replacing. We recommend replacing the standard 1-inch filter about every 90 days. However, if you have poor air quality, you may need to replace it more often, especially if you live in a dusty environment or have multiple pets. If you have a larger filter, check your system’s manual for the recommended replacement schedule.

Regardless of your filter’s size, consider checking it every month to see how quickly it collects contaminants. When you do check it, gently vacuum off the intake side to help extend its useful life.

Keep Vents Open and Clear

Your system must also be able to circulate air around your home in addition to through the system. As it pulls air in, it creates low pressure at the return vents. As the air comes from the output vents, it creates high pressure.

This pressure differential creates the circulating movement around your home. Any closed or blocked vents inhibit the circulating movement.

Aside from keeping your vents open, they also need proper clearance. For your output vents, keep at least two inches above and around each vent. Return vents need clearance based on the size of the vent, so check by asking your technician for the ideal clearance. The service technicians at Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning located in San Marcos are the perfect choice for any and all of your heating and air conditioning needs.

Run Ventilation Fans

Your kitchen and bathroom are considerable sources of both heat and humidity. Both of these make sure that your air conditioner works hard to bring down your temperature.

Ventilation fans help exhaust both the heat and the humidity from hot water. By venting these as they occur, you reduce their circulation through the rest of the house. In addition to reducing the strain on your AC, you also make your home environment less likely for biological growth.

Clear Your Condensing Unit

Your outside condensing unit vents the heat the refrigerant absorbed from inside your home. In order to do this, it must draw air in from around the unit and through the condensing coils. It then vents it out through the top.

Any debris around or above your condensing unit prevents that air from moving through properly. Keep the grass and weeds cleared, and keep bushes, trees, and hedges trimmed back. The rule of thumb is to maintain at least 1-foot clearance around and above your unit.

Add Some Shade to the Condensing Unit

Your system’s ability to cool is in part determined by the difference in temperature between the refrigerant and the outside air. The greater that difference, the more effectively it can transfer the heat out of the refrigerant.

On hot, sunny days, the sunshine alone increases the temperature, making the compressor work harder. Simply adding some shade for your unit helps reduce the air temperature, relieving some operational strain. Just be sure to keep in mind the clearance needs for proper air circulation.

Stay Current on Routine Maintenance

Like every mechanical system, your air conditioner needs regular routine maintenance. This maintenance works to prevent normal airflow restrictions, maintain operational efficiency, and catch small problems early.

To do this, a technician cleans the circulating fan and evaporator and condensing coils. While this doesn’t seem too difficult, you can easily damage your coils without proper training, tools, and experience.

In addition, your tech will check all mounting bolts and screws to ensure everything is tight. These loosen over time due to the vibration created while your system runs, allowing for even more vibration. This creates unusual wear on your parts, leading to preventable repairs.

Your tech will also test your refrigerant to ensure it is at the optimal level. Low refrigerant indicates a leak and poses a risk for damaging your compressor and other components.

Finally, the technician tests each component to ensure they are operating within optimal parameters. Suboptimal performance increases operational strain, increasing energy costs and wear on your system. If they find something suboptimal, you can replace the component before it causes more costly repairs.

Use the Programs on Your Thermostat

Your home likely does not need to be as cool while you are not home to enjoy it. Rather, the Department of Energy suggests you can save about 10% of your annual energy costs by adjusting the temperature by 7-10 degrees while you’re not home.

A programmable thermostat allows you to automate these adjustments so that you don’t have to remember. If you opt for a remote access thermostat, you can easily adjust the program from your smart device.

Turn on Your Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are an often misunderstood tool for your HVAC system. While they do help improve circulation over the summer to a small degree, they offer a different way of reducing energy costs.

When you have a fan moving air around, the air feels 1-2 degrees cooler. If your ideal temperature is 76 degrees, you can set the thermostat to 78 degrees, but it’ll feel like 76 with the fan. This reduces the length of your run cycles, thereby reducing the amount of energy needed.

Setting the temperature even slightly higher also reduces the wear on your system. Your system will experience fewer breakdowns and extended service life.

People around San Marcos have turned to Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning since 1998 for reliable air conditioning services. Our team provides expert heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair along with indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your air conditioning service with one of our expert technicians today.

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