We know a few things quite well here in Wisconsin, including beer, cheese, the Packers, and a wide range of weather. It seems like just yesterday we were talking about staying warm, but now we’re on the other end of the spectrum in terms of temps. When it comes to keeping cool through these hot summer months, it’s not a bad idea to use some simple practices to help keep your air conditioner running efficiently, and keep your home comfortable.
The most important step you can take to keep your AC running right is annual maintenance. Just as you take your car in every few thousand miles for an oil change, your AC will appreciate a clean filter, condensate drain, and coil. A service technician is able to provide a safety inspection, as well as some basic services to check operation of all the components of the air conditioner, to make sure it works when you need it most. Annual maintenance is also typically required by manufacturers to maintain your equipment’s warranty. Don’t assume since your equipment is new, it doesn’t need maintenance, either- would you drive that new car 10,000 miles with no maintenance?
You can also take basic steps for maintaining efficiency without calling a service technician. A good rule of thumb for a one-inch furnace filter is to change it once a month. If your system uses a thicker, five-inch filter, every six months to a year should suffice. Your household makes a difference in how often you should change the filter. If your home has higher amounts of dust, or pet hair and dander, it is beneficial to change it more often. Also be sure your outdoor condenser unit is free of debris. Keep the area clear of weeds, and be sure to check the unit for dirt and debris. When the outdoor unit is dirty, it can act as a sort of can koozie for your AC, making it work harder and be less efficient.
If you are using window air conditioning units, and you’d like to consider an upgrade to a quieter, more energy-efficient system, a ductless mini split unit might be the option for you. As the name implies, these systems do not require ductwork for the cooled air to pass through. A ductless split AC system is made up of an outdoor compressor and at least one indoor unit that can be mounted on your wall or ceiling. These indoor units are connected to the compressor through a refrigerant line and take care of circulating and cooling the air in the room they’re installed in, as well as helping to dehumidify the space.
These ductless systems have many benefits, including a greatly reduced installation cost because there is no need to put in ducts. Mini–splits are available for small spaces, such as one or two rooms, and can also be expanded to create up to eight separate climate zones in your home. This gives you a much more refined level of control than you would have with most traditional, duct–based systems. These systems also provide heating.
If your cooling system is aging and making you sweat, or if you don’t yet have air conditioning in your home, an upgrade or install could benefit your home. If you’re considering a new air conditioner, be sure your cooling service provider does a manual j-load calculation to get properly sized equipment. If the unit you purchase is too small, it will end up working overtime, and probably still won’t get your home to a comfortable temperature. On the other hand, an air conditioner that’s too big for your home will not properly dehumidify your space, and be cycling on and off constantly, resulting in energy bills that are higher than necessary. Weigh the pros and cons of a single-stage unit versus multi-stage for even greater energy efficiency.
If your AC is not quite running right, or it’s been a while since your last maintenance appointment, call your preferred certified cooling service provider for maintenance before a little issue becomes a big one.
Christina Hager is the Marketing Specialist at Hurlburt Heating & Plumbing. Blog articles are submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA). The CVHBA is a free resource available to all homeowners building or remodeling a home. For more information please call 715-835-2526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.