There’s nothing worse than an air conditioning system that doesn’t work at peak efficiency when the hot weather arrives. It is both uncomfortable and more costly to operate.

Here are five tips to keep your home cooler on those hot summer days:

1. Address Improper Operation

A common AC problem is incorrect operation. First, close all windows and outside doors once you have turned on the AC. If you have a single room air conditioner, it will be more effective if the room is isolated from the rest of the house.

Ensure that the air flow pathway is clear—remove anything obstructing the interior registers or exterior unit to allow the required air flow. Proper air flow not only increases your comfort level but also reduces strain on the unit and reduces your energy costs.

Moving the temperature setting up two degrees will still be comfortable but will cost less to run. Install a programmable or smart thermostat to cool or heat your home on a schedule that keeps you comfortable but reduces the AC when you’re not at home or it’s not needed.

2. Maintain the Air Filters

First, check to determine what type of filter you have. Can it be cleaned, or is it a filter that needs to be replaced on a regular basis? Check your owner’s manual, as some filters can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, some can be washed in warm water and some need to be replaced.

Always turn the AC off before cleaning or replacing the filters. If your AC filter is the replaceable type, keep a new one on hand and change it out when needed—at least once a year.

Some of the newer AC systems have a self-cleaning feature which uses a brush device to remove particles which are collected, then blown outside. Set it to clean your filter on a regular basis. If you have pets or a family member has allergies, you will want to clean the filter more frequently.

To avoid inhaling bacteria or dust particles, wear a disposable face mask when cleaning air filters.

3. Move the AC out of the Sun

If your AC unit is directly exposed to the sun, you could consider getting it moved so it is less exposed. This will save on operating costs and extend the life of the AC unit.

4. Use Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are an inexpensive option that can improve the efficiency of your air conditioning. The rotating paddles will circulate the air in a room. In the summer, it will help draw the cooler air up towards the ceiling.

For the winter, you want the reverse where the air is pushed down. A ceiling fan does not directly change the room temperature, but the air movement makes it seem cooler as the breeze helps with the natural evaporation of perspiration on the skin.

5. Regular Maintenance

Regular AC maintenance ensures that your system is operating effectively and economically. You will also be able to breathe easily. If you allow filters or AC coils to become dirty, the unit will not work properly, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely.

Unqualified service technicians can fail to find refrigerant charging problems, and can even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full.

Debris accumulation will negatively affect operational efficiency. Regular maintenance and cleaning will ensure that your AC unit will run better and last as long as possible. Your home will be cooler and your electrical bill lower.

With regular maintenance checks, problems can be found and repaired while they’re still minor, thus preventing bigger troubles in the future. Your goal is to keep your AC operating at peak performance and as energy-efficiently as possible.

Think green! When the AC system is working at peak efficiency, it will consume less energy while cooling your home.

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