Beach vacations, barbecues, pool parties—who doesn’t love summer? But the quickest way to rain on your fun in the sun is to have your air conditioner fail when temperatures are at their highest. Take good care of your A/C unit throughout the year with the following tips to ensure you have a nice, cool home to relax in after all your outdoor activities.
1. Schedule annual maintenance checks with a pro
The best thing you can do is find a reputable HVAC company to clean and inspect your system seasonally. While you can use the rest of the tips on this list to help things hum along smoothly, no one knows A/C units as well as the professionals. Experts can help recognize and diagnose potential issues before you end up with a broken air conditioner at the hottest time of the year.
In fact, if you schedule maintenance well before the summer, you may even get a better rate prior to peak season.
2. Clean and change your filters regularly
Taking proper care of your filters is probably the easiest and most effective thing you can do to keep your A/C unit healthy. Take note of the kind of filter that’s best for your air conditioner, and adhere to the appropriate guidelines for cleaning or changing it.
Vacuum and rinse reusable filters in between your maintenance visits, and replace them every few years for optimum air quality. If you use disposable filters, write the date on the filter when you replace it, and make checking your filters a habit by grouping the chore with any other regular monthly occurrence, such as paying your rent or credit card bill.
3. Make sure the area surrounding an outdoor unit is clear
Debris, plants, tall grasses, and weeds can all block airflow, preventing your A/C from working properly or most efficiently. Keep the surrounding area neatly maintained to ensure nothing interferes with the system’s ability to function.
4. Avoid opening and closing your doors and windows too much
While it may be nice to enjoy a summer breeze, the way an A/C unit works is by sensing the ambient air temperature and cycling on and off to get the air to match the settings you selected. If you’re constantly opening and closing windows and doors, the temperature inside your home rises or falls accordingly, and your system has to work harder to consistently adjust.
5. Seal any openings that may let cold air escape
A tire with a slow leak constantly needs more air, and the same principle applies to cooling your home. If your walls, doors, or windows have any cracks or gaps that allow air to escape, your A/C has to pump more cool air out to compensate for the air that is escaping through those faults. Make sure you apply caulking, weather stripping, and insulation as needed to prevent cool air loss.
6. Let the unit rest while you’re not home
There’s been debate around whether it’s better to keep your A/C at a consistent temperature all the time or to set it to a higher temperature while you’re not home. The answer is that you save the most money and energy if you maintain a consistent temperature while you’re home, but let your system rest while you’re away.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you leave your A/C thermostat at 78°F when at home and turn it up several degrees warmer when the house is empty. If you’re lousy at remembering to adjust it each time you leave and return, consider investing in a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts according to the times and settings you select.
7. Utilize your ceiling fans
Using fans may allow you to set your thermostat a degree or two warmer than you may have been able to stand otherwise—especially if you rotate the blades clockwise, which directs airflow downward and prevents hotter air from rising up and signaling the A/C unit to kick on.
8. Inspect and clean vents regularly
Keeping your vents clean ensures that no dust or debris is preventing air from freely flowing out. If you keep vents open in rooms, keep the doors to those rooms closed so the room reaches the desired temperature sooner since the area to cool is smaller.
9. Invest in window tints or films
Tinting your windows or installing a film can help keep your home cooler by tempering the effects of the sun. If your home is less affected by sun shining in, you can keep your thermostat set a degree or two higher, and your system won’t have to work as hard to account for fluctuations due to sunlight creeping in.
10. Indulge in cool beverages and drinks
Stay hydrated with plenty of water, and choose healthy, chilled snacks, such as fresh fruit or veggies and hummus. Not only do these options cool you from the inside out, but they also allow you to avoid using the oven, which radiates heat for your A/C unit to work against.
11. Protect your system and budget with a home warranty
As much as you can take care of your unit with all of the preventative tips listed here, an A/C system can still quit working for a number of reasons completely out of your control. The best way to protect yourself—and especially your budget—is to purchase the Progressive Home Warranty by TotalProtect, which helps reduce the cost of repairing or replacing your system when a breakdown comes along.