Your central air conditioner: it’s the modern luxury that cools your family and your home when you need it most. And with above-average temperatures projected for this summer, we will really appreciate all the benefits provided by this technological marvel. However, air conditioners become less energy efficient over time, especially when we don’t appreciate or care for them as we should. Granted, some of these problems are the unavoidable result of age, but there are issues caused by the buildup of dirt, dust, and grime that are completely preventable – if you take care to provide the proper maintenance.
It’s vital that you invest in an annual tune-up before the hot weather arrives. Most HVAC companies offer tune-up services to keep your system running at optimum energy efficiency. A tune-up will include tightening all electrical connections, lubricating fans, and cleaning the system. Coolant levels are checked, and potential problems are repaired before they result in a breakdown. Just as tuning up your car improves gas mileage levels, tuning up your air conditioner will make it more energy efficient.
Change the Air Filter
Your air conditioner moves air through the home in a regular cycle. Putting fresh air into living areas, it then collects old air and moves it back through the system. Before the air returns to your air handler near the furnace, it goes through an air filter. This filter captures particulates and airborne pollutants that could damage your system. As the air filter fills with allergens and dust, it gets clogged up, which means that the air moving to the handler is limited. This clogging harms your system, causing it to strain and run inefficiently. Protect your air conditioner and keep its energy efficiency at peak performance levels by changing the air filter monthly.
Clean the Return Air Ducts
In addition to changing the filter, you should also take the time to clean your return air ducts. Duct covers that are clogged with lint, dust and dirt block airflow and force your system to strain, making your air conditioner much less energy efficient. Vacuum these ducts every time you clean the room to ensure that there is adequate airflow reaching your HVAC unit.
Clean the Duct Work
Even the duct Work in new homes can be dirty, as construction debris and dust naturally gets collected inside them. If rodents or other pests have visited your home, then your ducts may also have a coating of droppings, germs, and other debris inside them. When the air turns on, fine particulates drift into the home and lower your indoor air quality. They also drift back through your air conditioner system on the return air side and start to hamper air flow. Have them professionally cleaned to improve indoor air quality and make your system more energy efficient.
Clean the Outside Compressor
It’s also important to keep your compressor and condenser coils clean. This is part of a tune-up, so you won’t have to open the system if you invest in professional services. However, you still need to clean around the unit when you can. There should not be any landscaping within two feet of the unit: specifically, grass, weeds and old leaves from the winter should be swept away, pulled out, and removed from the area immediately around your unit. Items should not be stored near the exterior compressor, because anything blocking air flow makes the system less energy efficient.
The best way to enjoy an energy efficient air conditioner is to invest in a new unit that is Energy Star rated, but that might be an expense that not every customer can afford at this time. The good news is that you don’t have to buy a new unit to improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. Make sure that the system you have now is as efficient as possible by keeping the filter, vents, ducts, and outdoor compressor clean, and just like your care, you can improve efficiency levels even further by investing in regular tune-up. Keep your home and your family cool during the hot summer months by taking great care of your air conditioner!