A lot of times air conditioning is considered a luxury, but in some cases, it is a necessity. If you live in a warm climate or in a place with unbearably hot summers, you more than likely have air conditioning. Unfortunately, the power and equipment to maintain that cold air in your home might end up being expensive, mostly due to improper care of your air conditioner. Basic air conditioner maintenance can keep your unit running more efficiently, saving you a good amount on your cooling costs. A properly maintained air conditioning system will also last longer and be less likely to break down as it won’t have to work as hard to get to a cooler temperature. Should it become necessary to replace your unit, seek out a professional technician. However, here are steps that can make a difference in the performance of your unit and prevent the need for replacing it.
Keep the unit area clean
- To help maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency, keep the area around the unit free of objects and foliage to increase airflow and keep its components clean. Keeping the unit clear of debris contributes greatly to the life of a unit. Cut back plants and shrubs around the unit to at least 2 feet away. Constantly check for and clear away weeds, leaves, and plant debris that can get into the unit. You want to allow for proper clearance at the top and around all sides of the unit in order for it to function properly. It is also a good idea to brush dirt and obstructions from the coils and the drains before starting the unit for an extended period of time.
Change the air filter
- One of the most important things to maintain an air conditioner just so happens to be the easiest one for people to do, change the air filter. Dirty air filters are the Number 1 preventable cause of a system breakdown. If the air filter becomes clogged by dirt and other particles, the unit can’t produce enough airflow, resulting in a lower volume of air and the system having to work harder. Keeping a clean filter allows the system to run more efficiently and reduce costs by saving energy. New filters are not that expensive, and keeping a clean filter without debris will contribute to a longer lasting air conditioning unit.
Use a programmable thermostat
- Programmable thermostats help ensure that the air conditioner operates only when necessary. This allows the air conditioner to maintain a steady temperature, which prevents it from running constantly, thus helping to conserve energy. A programmable thermostat is a small investment that can help save you money as it only allows the air conditioner to operate at the right time of the day. Many new thermostats also have service reminders that alert the homeowner when routine maintenance is required. These features can help prolong the life of a unit and save you money in the long run.
Set the right temperature
- The ideal temperature setting for a central air conditioner is about 78° Fahrenheit. For every degree that you raise the thermostat above 78°, while it’s on the cooling setting, you save up a 5-10 percent more on your cooling costs. You can also adjust the temperature by using ceiling fans set on the lowest setting to circulate cold air throughout your home. Doing this allows you to keep the temperature on the thermostat higher and put less pressure on the air conditioning system.
Replace the fuses
- Replaces the fuses every 6-12 months, depending on usage. This will help prevent your air conditioner from failing. It is best to let a professional technician replace the fuses. However, if you wish do it yourself, here some instructions:
- Turn off the unit’s circuit breaker.
- Remove the fuses from the disconnect box.
- Purchase new fuses. Take an old fuse with you to make sure you purchase the right type.
- Place the new fuses inside the disconnect box.
- Close the disconnect box.
- Turn on the unit’s circuit breaker.
Have routine maintenance/check-ups
- For your air conditioner to operate properly and efficiently, a qualified professional technician should service the unit at the beginning of each cooling season. Like a car, a central air conditioner is a big investment. When a professional technician services your air conditioner, they will make sure the various parts are working properly and will make adjustments that will help increase the efficiency of your system. A professional technician will also let you know about minor problems that need attention before they become expensive repairs in the future.
The steps provided will help your air conditioner run more smoothly and efficiently. Nevertheless, these steps will only deny the inevitable for a failing system. They may help save on major repairs and energy costs, but if the system is already 12 to 15 years old, it may be time to consider replacing the system. Maintenance and repairs on older systems can be more expensive and they don’t operate as efficiently, whereas a new system will be much more energy efficient and will save you a lot on energy bills.