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Maximize Your Air Conditioner’s Performance

Air conditioners are one of those modern conveniences that we often forget about maintaining…until a Summer heat wave explodes…and we really need it.  The key to enjoying your HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) cooling system to the max this Summer…without breaking the bank this Spring…is taking time to do a few simple steps of preparation.

Regular Maintenance

Job #1: Go outside and inspect the exterior AC unit for debris, dead leaves and plant growth that have the potential to block the airflow.  Inside the house…check your HVAC filter regularly.  Heavy Summer use means the filter will likely need to be washed or replaced monthly (possibly more frequently if you have pets or live in an especially dusty area). That means dusting the A/C grates in each room too! Clean the evaporator coils annually, straightening any bent ones.

Schedule your annual HVAC tune-up if you’re due.  A 10 year+ old system may be costing you more in electricity bills than it is worth, especially if you live in an area with long, hot Summers.

First Things First

Test run your cooling system in mid-Spring!  This enables you to see how well it’s working and troubleshoot any issues BEFORE a heat wave strikes.  If it turns out you actually  need professional help with problems that you can’t handle yourself…you won’t be another sorry casualty in a long line of procrastinators when that heat wave actually appears. Rule of thumb: HVAC technicians are almost invariably easier to get hold of during the off-peak season and their rates may reflect this.

A Kilowatt Saved is Cash Earned

Your HVAC systems programmable thermostat can be a huge ally.  Use it to schedule operation for times when you are at home. Efficient use of this handy device can save you close to $200 per year on your utility bills. When your family’s schedule changes, reassess your cooling needs and adjust the programmable thermostat as needed.

Another trick: Set the thermostat a few degrees higher than you normally would and use a low-energy-consumption fan to help circulate the cool air. Ceiling fans should be switched to turn in the correct direction (counter-clockwise); this directs hot air upward and away from the center of the room.

Keep Cool Air In, Hot Air Out

Keep as much precious cool air inside by sealing around the HVAC unit and your ducts seams and connections.  Next…wrap the ducts with fiberglass insulation. If the ducts pass through an attic space, consider insulating that too. Sealing and insulation require a certain amount of effort but will be well worthwhile in energy efficiency both summer and winter.

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