Whenever there’s a change in the seasons, it’s time to think about how you can make your HVAC system more efficient and effective. Here are some tips on how to minimize the strain on your HVAC system this summer and help it function well so you can stay cool and comfortable.
TIP 1: Filter, filter, filter
Make sure you change your disposable filter or clean your reusable filter regularly. A dirty filter restricts airflow, which keeps your system from moving heat out of the house effectively. When your system is less efficient, it’s less effective.
Tip 2: Keep doors and windows closed
This might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised!
When doors or windows are open, it’s hard for your system to keep up. In the business we call unconditioned air that’s coming into your space “infiltration.” When you have a lot of infiltration, your system has to work harder to cool things down. That will cost you more money. Remember your grandparents’ advice and “don’t cool the outdoors!”
Of course, bringing fresh air into your home is also important. If you want to open the windows and doors, do it in the morning or evening, when temperatures are cooler. That way, your system won’t be struggling to keep up.
Tip 3: Shield south- and west-facing windows
When the weather gets extremely hot—especially as temperatures start to reach into the low 90s—cover the windows on the south and west sides of your home. It really helps reduce the overall temperature inside.
If you can, plant bushes or trees for shade on those sides of your house for more permanent protection from the sun.
Tip 4: Use your programmable thermostat
It saves a bunch of energy to turn your air conditioning up a bit during the day. But if you do that and you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you won’t be able to turn it down to a comfortable temperature until you get home. Then you’ll have to wait, sweltering, while your system cools everything down.
To balance budget with comfort, consider getting a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one already and program it to keep the house a little warmer during the day. About an hour minutes before you typically arrive home, set it to start cooling. That way, when you walk in the door, you’ll feel refreshed immediately even though you’ve been saving money all day!
In short, it’s best to leave the air conditioning on during hot weather (as opposed to turning it off altogether) to keep the humidity and temperature in balance inside your home. But you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) run it full blast, 24/7. Program your thermostat to fit your schedule and lifestyle.
Tip 5: Keep an eye on your outdoor unit
The outdoor unit for your air conditioning system is pretty tough. It’s made to withstand all kinds of conditions while continuing to cool your home. But you should still check it to make sure it’s free of debris and ensure that it’s properly serviced.
If you mow the grass near your air conditioning unit, grass clippings can get into your unit’s condenser coil, the part that moves warm air from inside your house to the outdoors. If it gets clogged, it can’t do its job well and your unit’s efficiency will drop. (That means you’ll be less comfortable and spend more money.) Check the unit and if you see grass clippings, hose it off.
And if it’s been awhile since you had a tune-up for your HVAC system, get one scheduled. It’s best to do this before the hot weather sets in, to ensure you can get scheduled easily. And while you’re at it, schedule for your next tune-up, as well. In general, we recommend you get your system serviced annually, either in the fall or the spring.