2015 is well on its way to breaking records and becoming the hottest year ever recorded. July of 2015 was already named the hottest month ever since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began keeping records in 1880. If your air conditioner hasn't quite been keeping up this summer, you're probably not the only one. When temperatures begin to climb and your AC has to work harder and harder to maintain cool temperatures, you may notice your power bill rising or your home feeling a little less comfortable than usual. Take a look at a few tips for optimizing your air conditioner so you can keep your cool for the rest of the season.
Rearrange Your Furniture
Sometimes getting a little more cool air and a lower energy bill is really as simple as rearranging the furniture in your house. Look around each room for your air supply registers and return grilles. If these are blocked — even partially — by a sofa, bed, coffee table, or chair, that blockage will prevent continuous air flow through your house and your HVAC system.
When the air flow is blocked, your system won't work as efficiently as it should, but this is an easy fix. Just move the furniture aside so the air can flow freely through your home and in and out of your HVAC system. While you're at it, examine your return grilles for dust and dirt. If they're full of dust and debris, that material will travel through your system and get trapped in your filter, which can become clogged and further tax your HVAC system. Remove the grilles and clean them with warm, soapy water for improved AC efficiency.
Clean Your Condenser
If you have a central air conditioner, it's important to remember that this is a split system — half of it is located outside. If the outdoor condenser is clogged with leaves, grass clippings, branches, or other debris, your system won't work as efficiently. Worse yet, the debris can cause your coils to freeze, which can break the system and necessitate an expensive repair.
You can clean the condenser yourself. First, shut the power to the condenser off at your fuse box. Then you can safely reach in and remove any large pieces of debris, like branches or leaves. Use a hose to spray out dirt and dust. You can even purchase coil cleaner that can be sprayed into the unit with a pump attached to your hose. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, you can have a local HVAC company perform condenser maintenance — cutting your energy bills and avoiding expensive repairs will be worth the fee.
Use Fans Wisely
Careful use of fans can help move the cool air around your home more efficiently. A fan will catch the air coming out of the vent and direct it toward the area that you need cooled. You'll feel comfortable faster and won't be tempted to crank the thermostat down another few degrees. In fact, you may be able to set it a few degrees higher than usual.
Ceiling fans are the best type of fans for moving air conditioned air around. Make sure your ceiling fan blades are moving in a counterclockwise direction — this will allow the fan blades to grab the cool air and push it down toward the floor, cooling off the room. Unless your fan has a remote control, look for a toggle switch on the fan's motor housing, below the blades. This switch will control the direction of the fan. If you don't have ceiling fans, try positioning a standing fan or a box fan with the back of the fan facing an AC vent and the front of the fan facing you. The fan will catch the cooled air coming out of the vent and direct it at you forcefully, helping you feel much cooler than you would with just the AC or just the fan alone.
If you've ensured proper airflow, cleaned your condenser, and set up fans to enhance the cooling conditions in your house, but you still feel hot or your energy bill is still creeping up, your air conditioner may need repairs. Contact an HVAC professional from a company like Christian Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. in your area for an inspection.