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Six Simple Steps to Help Your Air Conditioner Work Better

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Summer is here, for real. With highs in the 90s, heat advisories from the National Weather Service, and the heat index regularly hitting the triple digits, this is the time of year when our air conditioners work the most.

You may find that on these very hot and humid days, your AC is struggling to keep up. When that happens, there are some simple things you can do to help your air conditioner running as efficiently and effectively as possible.


Change the Filter

The number one thing you can do this summer to help out your air conditioner is change the filter very regularly. A clean filter means easier airflow. That means your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to cool down your house.

Keep in mind that the more your air conditioner runs, the faster the filter gets dirty. When your air conditioner is running near-constantly, changing the filter every month becomes that much more important.

If you’re concerned about the expense of buying a new filter every month, keep in mind that we recommend you use the cheapest, low-MERV filters. Higher-rated filters don’t do much to keep your air clean (you need an electronic air cleaner to do that), but they can really restrict airflow.

A clean, cheap filter will keep the air moving, and you’ll only have to spend $2-3 to replace it each month. That’s good for your comfort and your wallet!

See Also: Are All Air Filters the Same?

Check the Registers

Another simple way to help your air conditioner is to make sure that all of your registers are clean and unblocked. Heavy dust on the register can hamper airflow, and make your air dirtier.

Most importantly, make sure that you haven’t blocked or covered the registers with anything. Furniture can keep the air from flowing, but so can curtains and rugs. Check that you don’t have any long curtains hanging down over your vents and that rugs haven’t shifted to cover them.

And make sure all of your registers are open, too. Sometimes registers get closed on purpose or by accident and nobody realizes it. If you’ve got a room that’s always too hot or too cold, simply opening the registers or removing things that are blocking them could fix the problem.

It’s not generally a good idea to close registers in rooms that you’re not using. It may seem like a good way to save on heating or cooling, but it actually can mess up the balance of your HVAC system. Your system is designed to work best when all the registers are open, so let that air flow!

See Also: Air Distribution

Trim Back the Plants

Another common summer problem is grass, shrubs, and other plants growing up around the outside AC unit. If plants are too close to your unit, they can hamper the airflow over the outside coils.

Check your landscaping regularly during the summer and trim back anything that grows too high or too close. You want to have at least three feet of space between the sides of the unit and any plant life around it. And you also need at least five feet of clearance over the top of the unit, so check those tree limbs.

See Also: Is is OK to Landscape Around my HVAC Unit

Block the Sun

Hot sunlight coming through windows can make it almost impossible for your air conditioner to keep up on the hottest days. Keep your blinds or curtains closed, especially during the heat of the day and ESPECIALLY on your east and west-facing windows.

You may want to consider investing in reflective blinds or curtains that are specifically designed to keep the sun’s light and heat out of your house. Strategically-planted shade trees can also make a big difference in how hard your AC has to work.

See Also: Lower Your Energy Bill this Summer

Keep Heat Sources Away From Your Thermostat

If your thermostat is located somewhere that is hotter than the rest of the house, it can cause your air conditioner to overwork unnecessarily. That leads to more wear and tear, higher energy bills, and an increase in breakdowns.

Things to look out for include direct sunlight shining on your thermostat, as well as heat-producing appliances like televisions or lamps located near it.

See Also: Where Should Your Home Thermostat be Located?

Don’t Skip Your Service

Finally, one of the best things you can do to help your air conditioner this summer is preventive maintenance. Hopefully you already had service performed on your AC during the spring, but if you didn’t, get it done now.

During your service check-up, the technician will make sure that your refrigerant charge is correct, that your AC’s internal components are working properly, and that the coils are clean.

All of these steps can help your air conditioner to run better and keep up with the summer heat, while also saving you money on your energy bills. A properly maintained air conditioner is a more efficient air conditioner!

Plus, it will help to ensure that you don’t find yourself in the dire situation of not having air conditioning at all in the middle of a heat wave. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

See Also: Homeowner’s Maintenance Guide