How to Maintain and Optimize Your Air Conditioner

Basic maintenance and care in operating your air conditioner can go a long way. By doing just two things consistently, you can keep cool efficiently and reliably for years to come.

As a Home Advisor with the non-profit Enhabit, I’m here to answer your questions about home cooling. At the bottom of this post, I’ll let you know how to set up a no-cost phone consultation with me or one of my fellow Home Advisors

#1: Get a professional tune up annually

Your air conditioner’s outside condenser unit collects debris, dirt and moss, especially in the fall and winter. This causes the fins and tubes that circulate coolant to be less efficient at expelling heat from the house. Moving parts wear out. Insulation on refrigerant tubes deteriorates. Electrical wires may corrode. All of this makes your air conditioner less efficient and can cause it to fail, which frequently happens during the hottest days of the year.

A basic annual service with a heating and cooling contractor is well worth the small investment (costs usually start at $100 or less) and extends the life of the unit. A technician will thoroughly clean and inspect your unit and can replace any critical parts to keep it in good working order.

Beat the rush by scheduling your annual maintenance now, before the peak cooling season begins.  

#2: Take care with the thermostat

Air conditioners take a while to pull heat out of your living space, so they’ll be most efficient, and keep you most comfortable, if you keep the temperature setting fairly constant. Drastic swings in temperature cause inefficiency, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your home at “icebox temperature” when you’re gone all day. You can save energy by setting the thermostat just a few degrees warmer when you are not home. For example if you like it 78 degrees when home, set it to no warmer than 83 when you are away.

You can use a programmable or smart thermostat to set back your temperature setting a few degrees at night and when you are away. For the most comfort when you’re home, Smart thermostats can also set the air conditioning to ramp up slowly to your desired temperature before you get home. A smart thermostat also uses occupancy sensors to notice your are not home and then turn the temperature up a few degrees to conserve on cooling costs. 

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