Making Home Improvements: 7 Ways to Get Your Air Conditioner Ready for the Summer Heat

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/14/16 10:16 AM

Topics: Energy Efficient Homes Saving Money Home Improvement Home Maintenance Energy Efficiency

It’s getting to be that time of year when having the windows open just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. As with any main system of your home, your central air conditioner needs some TLC to keep it running efficiently. Use these tips to keep your home cool this spring and summer.

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Change Your Air Filters

Set a calendar reminder to change your filter on a monthly basis as soon as you turn on the A/C for the spring/summer (during the heating season, change them on a 4-6 week basis).

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your A/C’s energy consumption by up to 10 percent.

Check Your Ductwork

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Did you know that homeowners with forced-air heating and cooling never even get to enjoy a large amount of that “paid for” air? According to Energy Star, about 20 to 30 percent of forced air moving through your duct system is lost through leaky ducts.

With that being said, if you feel like your energy bills are constantly high and you know there isn’t an issue with your A/C or furnace, you could be causing them to work harder than necessary to keep your home comfortable. Many heating and cooling contractors also repair ductwork, so the next time you have your furnace or A/C serviced, have them investigate your entire duct system.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

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Still dialing it up? A programmable thermostat can save you a ton on your energy bills. For instance, the Nest Thermostat, which we featured in our blog of the Best Smart Home Gadgets of 2015, boasts up to 20% savings on your heating and cooling bill.

Even if you don’t want to get that high-tech, a programmable model allows you to automatically set back your air conditioner when you’re not there.

Have Your A/C Inspected by an HVAC Professional

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You wouldn’t drive your car for 15 years straight without having it serviced; the same thing goes for your air conditioner. An HVAC professional can make sure all parts of your air conditioner are running properly and your coolant levels are high enough. Just like with your auto mechanic, you either pay a little as you go with routine maintenance, or you pay a major expense down the road.

Give Your A/C Unit Some Space

While keeping your A/C in a shaded spot is a smart idea, don’t get overzealous. The unit needs at least two feet of space from plants, fencing, etc. to efficiently pull in air.

Clean Up Build-Up

Think about all the stuff that passes by and through your air conditioner – leaves, dirt, dust, etc. If you’re a do-it-yourself type of homeowner, the Family Handyman has a great how-to for cleaning it and boosting your A/C’s efficiency.

Give Your A/C a Break

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Don’t make your air conditioner do all of the work in keeping your house cool. Pull the shades and turn on the ceiling fans to help keep your home feeling cooler.

Is your ductwork or heating/cooling system in need of replacement or major repair? Download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for ways you can include the costs of renovations, home improvements and remodeling into your mortgage.

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

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