You want to save as much money as possible when cooling your home, but the way you’re operating your air conditioning system could be costing you -- BIG TIME!.
Here are common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to their HVAC systems.
Are you guilty of any of these?
Failing to Program the Thermostat
Most of us have a programmable thermostat. Unfortunately, few of us bother to program it. That’s a shame because setting a schedule for your central cooling system is a great way to save some serious cash.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with your thermostat. Most of them are fairly user friendly, allowing you to easily create a schedule around your typical week.
If you work typical working hours, create a Monday-Friday schedule so that your AC operates on a more economical setting while you’re away, but adjusts to a more comfortable temperature, say, 78 degrees, shortly before you return. That’s what the U.S. Department of Energy recommends.
Better yet, upgrade to a Wi-Fi thermostat. This slick device learns your temperature preferences and makes a custom schedule based on your comings and goings. At every moment, the thermostat will make micro-adjustments to the temperature settings for optimal results.
Failing to Replace the Air Filters
Your filters are located in the return vent and are meant to keep dirt and debris from clogging up the air handler. Some of the more advanced filters for homes can also capture:
Dust mite feces
If they're not replaced, they'll hinder the circulation of air, which puts a strain on the AC and forces it to work harder to reach your set point. The result will be higher bills, uneven cooling, and a shortening of your unit's life span.
Replace pleated filters every 60 to 90 days. It could be, though, that you have fiberglass filters installed. These are the lowest in quality and must be replaced every 30 days. Fortunately, filter replacement, unlike other AC maintenance tasks, is a DIY project.
Neglecting Regular AC Maintenance
This is one of those things that you either overlook or don’t think it’s worth the money. But make no mistake -- your HVAC unit requires an occasional tune-up to prevent breakdowns and keep it running at peak performance.
You can easily set up a maintenance plan and receive a tune-up every spring before the weather gets warmer. In fact, most AC manufacturers' warranties require ongoing professional maintenance, or they'll become void. Consider how a tune-up covers things like:
Thermostat calibration: Thermostats read the indoor temperature incorrectly if they're not calibrated.
Refrigerant level checks: If your refrigerant is low, your system has a leak, and that’s bad! A reputable HVAC technician will find the leak, repair it and top off your system.
Ductwork leak checks: If the ducts are leaking, a lot of your conditioned air will be wasted. That means less comfort for more money.
Evaporator coil cleaning: If the evaporator coil is dirty, it won't absorb heat as efficiently, leading to lukewarm air and longer cycles.
Letting Debris Build Up in the Condenser Unit
We mentioned the need for a clean evaporator coil. There's another coil, located outside, that you'll want to be concerned about. The condenser coil is part of the condenser unit, and its job is to remove the heat that the refrigerant absorbed in the evaporator coil. The AC's performance will suffer if any of the following hinder the coil:
Bent fins on the coil
Leaves, twigs, and grass
Lint from a nearby dryer vent
Condenser coil cleaning can be covered in a professional tune-up, but you can do your part by, for example, gently hosing down the coil to remove the leaves and other large debris. Spray vertically, not horizontally, to avoid bending the fins.
Closing Doors and Vents to Unused Rooms
Assuming that the air conditioner is performing at its peak, you may still be undermining it. For instance, you might have a habit of closing the doors and air supply vents to unoccupied rooms, but this is a grave mistake.
The intention, of course, is to redirect cool air to the other rooms, and this can happen to some extent if the ducts are tightly sealed. However, what usually occurs is that the air, now more pressurized, will escape through the leaks in the ductwork as it doubles back. You'll be wasting lots of energy in the end. Additionally, your unit will wear down sooner; blowing air through pressurized ducts is like breathing with only one nostril.
Keeping Doors and Windows Open
Another bad habit is to open the windows and doors to let in fresh air when the AC begins a cycle. The belief that this will help cool the home faster is a myth as open windows and doors will merely bring in warm air. The only time when open windows make sense is when homeowners run a swamp cooler.
Besides keeping all windows shut, you'll want to inspect the windows and doors for any obvious drafts. Cracks and other openings will just as easily invite warm air inside unless they're sealed. A wide range of weatherstripping materials is available, including:
Open- and closed-cell foam tape
Vinyl and metal strips
Using Ceiling Fans at Unnecessary Times
Ceiling fans are a good ally to your AC. According to the Department of Energy, running the ceiling fans and AC simultaneously can allow you to raise your set point 4 degrees without compromising comfort.
Many homeowners don't understand, though, that ceiling fans do nothing to actually cool the home; they only create a cool sensation in the occupants by moving the air over their skin. Even warm air will feel cool in this situation. It's a mistake, then, to leave a ceiling fan on when no one is under it. Also, when they're on, make sure they're pushing the air down to you. Usually, they must turn counterclockwise to do this.
Contact Us Today
At Lex Air Conditioning and Heating, we want you to get the most out of your AC system, so we provide maintenance as well as high-quality repairs and replacements. Contact us today at (972) 217-8955 to ask any questions or to schedule a convenient appointment.