By Lance McCarthy
Staying cool? I didn’t think so. It is so hot that even my conservative friends are starting to reconsider global warming!
This week I wanted to talk about the most important part of your house right now: your air conditioner. Don’t think it is the most important? Try turning it off. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
1. Change that filter (I know you know this, but did you do it this month?) If the filter is clogged it will have to work a lot harder. Imaging jogging in this heat with a dust mask. That’s what your air conditioner feels like when the filter is clogged. If your air conditioner had feelings.
2. Keep it clean. Does your air conditioner have leaves and grass clippings on it? You can use a shop vac to vacuum around the fins (just don’t bend them) and even down around the motor.
3. Have it inspected, cleaned and tuned by a licensed HVAC technician before it gets hot each year. (This should cost less than $100).
4. Get more green stuff. No, not that stuff, I meant trees and grass. Hard surfaces around your house will increase the temperature and radiate heat making your system work harder. Grass and shade will dramatically lower the temperature around your home.
5. Keep your air conditioner in the shade, but keep the area around it free from plants or anything else that will prevent the air from circulating around it.
6. Push the cold air higher. Since hot air rises, try closing some of the vents in lower areas to make sure the cool air gets to the higher rooms (unless you have a zoned system).
7. Pull the shades. Open windows will let in more sunlight and that will bring heat with it.
8. Insulate. Make sure your rim plate (the space in the basement above your foundation) and your attic are both well insulated.
9. Replace the unit. As your a/c gets older, it becomes less efficient (like me). A unit that is older than 10 years could easily be taking twice as much energy to do the same work. You should consider replacing it with a more efficient one that would keep the house more comfortable while costing less.
10. Right size it. Watch out for the hvac company that doesn’t calculate what size you need. I have seen guys just replace the unit with a new one the same size without figuring out if that size is correct. To small and the unit won’t keep the house comfortable. Too big and it will start and stop too many times and not be able to take the humidity out.
Want more information? Here’s a great infographic from the Energy Department on everything you ever wanted to know about your air conditioner. If that isn’t enough, email me and I’ll make something up so that I can sound smart. (Just kidding. But seriously, feel free to email.)