Interior Heating & Cooling Cooling

These Are the 12 Best Things You Can Do for Your AC

Aah—that’s your sigh of contentment when you retreat from the hot summer sun and enter the sweet relief of your air-conditioned home. But if you want your AC to cool the air reliably and efficiently, it needs regular care and maintenance—and not just when Mother Nature turns up the heat. So, as the heat soars this summer, take a moment to give thanks to Willis Carrier, who invented modern air conditioning back in 1902, and then be sure to follow these 12 tips that will help keep all that cool comfort coming.

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Change the Air Filter

One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your AC system operating at peak efficiency is to change the air filter at least seasonally, and even monthly during periods of high use. A dirty air filter slows down airflow and makes the unit’s motor work harder than necessary to cool down the incoming air.

Related: 11 Air Conditioning Mistakes That Spike Your Bills

Provide Some Shade

If you want your air conditioner to keep you nice and cool, you need to return the favor. Protect the condenser, the outdoor portion of your central air-conditioning system, from the worst of the sun’s glare. A little shade may help it more efficiently disperse the heat collected from the air inside your home.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

If the forecast calls for a scorcher, don’t wait until the indoor heat is unbearable to switch on the AC. Instead, program it ahead of time, or switch it on manually before temperatures get too high. Doing this will save on utility costs and reduce the unit’s workload.

Related: 9 Ways to Lower Cooling Costs in Rising Heat

Keep It Clean

A condenser that’s smothered by shrubs or grass, clogged with fallen leaves, or blocked by patio furniture cannot effectively dispel heat, forcing the unit to work harder than it should and increasing your electric bill. Sweep away debris each week, and cut back plants so they don’t come within two feet of the condenser.

Install a Smart Thermostat

If you spend the majority of your day away from home, you can lower your utility bills by installing a smart thermostat. Program the device to keep the house a bit warmer throughout the afternoon and then turn up the AC to cool things down an hour or two before you get home.

Close the Windows

If you leave a window or door open while you’re running the air conditioner, you may as well just throw money out the window. With warm air coming into the house, the AC will run nonstop in an attempt to cool things down—and you’ll see the results on your next utility bill.

Don’t Let Your Thermostat Overheat

If there are heat-producing appliances, such as a television, computer, or lamp, too close to your thermostat, or if the thermostat is positioned too close to a sunny window, the warmth can “fool” the device into running the AC longer than necessary. Move heat-generating appliances away from the thermostat, and if necessary, cover it so the sun doesn’t shine directly on it.

Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks around windows and doors let hot air in and cooled air out. Check for air leaks annually, and seal any gaps with caulk or weatherstripping.

Draw the Drapes

On the hottest summer days, help your air conditioner beat the heat by drawing the drapes or blinds during peak temperatures, especially on windows that get direct afternoon sun.

Watch the Humidity

As part of the cooling process, your air conditioner removes excess humidity from room air. Make it easier on your AC by not adding to indoor humidity: During baths or showers, keep the bathroom ventilation fan running and the door closed, and always turn on the range hood over the stove when you’re boiling large pots of water.

Related: 12 Clever Hacks to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

Take Care of the Vents

Blocked air vents slow down airflow, forcing your air conditioner to work harder and longer to keep things cool. Vacuum or dust the vents monthly, and don’t block them with furniture, draperies, or artwork.

Don’t Neglect Regular Checkups

It’s a good idea to have your air-conditioning system serviced by an HVAC professional annually. These pros can check and restore refrigerant levels, look for problems you may not have noticed, and perform maintenance tasks that are outside the average homeowner’s skill set.

Cool Comfort

Take care of your AC and it will take care of you.