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Blog May 18, 2015

8 Ways to Improve Air Conditioner Efficiency

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All right, Mr. Handyman (or Handywoman), here’s what you do to improve air conditioner efficiency year-round. That A/C, no matter how new it is, gobbles its fair share of electricity. So you’ve got to keep it running in top condition. Some of the work requires a pro. But here’s what you can do, and how to do it. Learn from Payless Power.

Here’s what you can do to improve AC efficiency

1. Check and Replace the Air Filter Monthly

If you do just one thing for your A/C, this should be it. A clogged filter cuts efficiency by 5-15%. If you have central A/C, you usually find the filter somewhere along the return duct. If your home uses a forced air furnace, you may have to open a door next to the furnace to reveal the location of your filter. It could also be on the A/C unit itself. If you have an A/C unit in your attic, the filter will be in your ceiling. Most likely, you’ll find it in a central area of your home in a hallway. During the summer, you may even need to replace your A/C filter more often than monthly. When your A/C gets louder, that’s a sign dirt’s clogging it and it needs replacing.

2. Clean Condenser Coils

Condenser coils will get dirtier if you let a dirty filter run for a while. So just by changing your filter, you’re helping your condenser coils stay clean. However, your condenser coils can still get dirty even if you have a clean filter, but luckily cleaning your condenser coils actually isn’t that hard.

HandymanHowTo.com has a brief ac efficiency guide that goes like this:

  1. Buy coil cleaner at your local hardware store or retailer
  2. Find your hose and bring it on over
  3. Mix the coil cleaner in your pump sprayer as directed
  4. Spray on the coil cleaner
  5. Let it sit for 5 minutes
  6. Wash your coils clean with your hose

3. Do You Have Room Air Conditioners?

Ideally, you’ll get rid of separate air conditioner units in your rooms and instead have central AC, but sometimes you just don’t have the budget for that. If you do have window units, make sure you have a tight seal between the A/C and window frame to ensure air is not able to escape. A/Cs are inefficient in the first place. So don’t make it any easier for them to leak more air!

4. Vacuum Vents

Just as with condenser coils, over time dust and debris collect within air conditioning vents. This buildup restricts the airflow of the conditioner and not only undermines its ability to cool off spaces, it also forces the machine to work harder. That combination means you’ll have to wait longer to feel the effects of the AC and that you’ll incur a greater cost. To start getting things back on track and improve airflow, vacuum dirt and debris from your vent. Be sure to give the system a check every now and again for any objects that may be obstructing the vents. Clearing those away is also a method for improving overall air conditioner efficiency.


5. Adjust The Temperature

Although it may seem counterintuitive to raise the temperature a few degrees on warmer days and lower it a few on cooler days, it is actually another way to be more efficient. You will still feel the effects of your air conditioning, but you will not be forcing the machine to work quite as hard as it would have, had it needed to adjust the temperature to a level that vastly contrasted the home’s temperature. Instead of doing it manually, you can enlist the aid of a smart thermostat which will be able to adjust to a cost optimizing level automatically. It will even be able to adjust when you aren’t home to ensure efficiency at all times.


6. Cover Your Windows

Whether with blinds, drapes, or curtains, when the sun is high in the sky and pumping rays of light down through the window, be sure to use window dressings to cover them. When heat is able to get into our homes, it increases the temperature and makes it harder for the air conditioner to run optimally. Often this heat can make its way into our homes without our knowledge, as open windows in rooms upstairs or those we do not often use increase the warmth of the house. To counteract that, always make sure you are blocking those windows. In the rooms you frequent, simply cover windows when the sun is at its highest.


7. Avoid Using Big Appliances

Much like the heat brought about by midday, operating appliances like the oven or dryer also expose our homes to increased levels of warmth. The effect on the AC is the same, as the conditioner must work harder in order to cool down the house. By simply waiting to use those appliances, you will help to improve the efficiency of your air conditioning. You can even take it one step further and use appliances to your advantage in colder months. Instead of trying to heat up your home with an adjustment to the thermostat, simply cook or wash your clothes in order to achieve an optimal temperature.


8. Check Ventilation Fins

Ventilation fins are those slits in air conditioning units that allow the flow of air out to the surrounding area. From time to time, those fins are hit. Based upon their design, the fins can be closed shut. It is easy for this to go unnoticed, resulting in restricted airflow and limiting the efficiency of the air conditioner. A simple fix is to double-check your air conditioning fins every now and again to ensure that they are open and that they are enabling the constant flow of cool air. You can make this part of your routine as you clean the debris from your air conditioner or remove obstructions.

You Can Do It

…But you don’t have to. If you aren’t handy or don’t have the time for air conditioner efficiency, you can always contact a professional to help you.

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