The cost to keep your home cool with an air conditioning system can add a large amount to your annual utility costs. Any time you notice that your system is not performing the way it should there are a few things you can check and/or maintain yourself. Do not wait until your home is hot and uncomfortable to follow these tips. If the house gets hot, the unit will have to work even harder to cool it back down.
Check Your Ceiling Fans
During the hot summer months, ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise to pull the heat up and keep the cool air down where the people are. If you notice the fan blades are spinning clockwise, the hot air that naturally rises is being pushed back down. Turn the fan off and move the switch located on the motor housing to the other position. This will have the blades moving the other direction.
Keep the AC Unit Cool
Plant a tree in a position that will keep the sun from beating down on the AC unit. You can also plant bushes or shrubs around the unit, but you need to be sure they are not restricting airflow to the system. Be sure to go out and clean any leaves or twigs off the unit regularly. If a tree is not possible, consider attaching an awning to your home that will extend out over the air conditioner. This will also help keep debris from getting into the unit housing.
Reduce the Amount of Heat Getting into Your Home
To help keep your home from heating up, use window coverings wisely. Close curtains and blinds on the east-facing side of the house in the mornings. Once the sun has passed over head, shortly after noon, open the east-side window treatments and close the west side blinds and curtains. Do not wait until the sun has started streaming in.
Clean or Change the Filters
Return air duct filters, air conditioning filters and any other filters in the ducts need to be cleaned or changed regularly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and causes your system to work harder. This will not only cost you money on your utility bill, but will cause the system to wear out sooner than it should.
Make sure you have your system serviced at least once a year to keep it running efficiently. This will also extend the life of your system. The HVAC technician can often find and fix a problem before it is serious during routine maintenance. When you have regular air conditioning service and repair and keep up with the small things yourself, you will have a much lower utility bill.