In warmer climates, air conditioning tends to be one of the biggest monthly expenses for many people. While running your AC is important for your comfort, it’s always going to be fairly costly. This is why it’s important to ensure that your AC system is working efficiently so that you don’t need to pay more than needed to keep your home cool. This article will explain the best ways to make your AC work efficiently so you can stay cool all summer without having to pay too much.

Control Your AC With a Smart Thermostat

Statistics show that a smart thermostat will usually reduce the energy usage of a central AC system by 8-10% on average compared to using a manual or standard programmable thermostat.

The most effective way to use a smart thermostat is to program it so that the temperature is a few degrees above your normal setting throughout the day when you’re at work. You should then set it so that it switches back to the normal temperature setting at whatever time you normally get home. With a normal programmable thermostat, this would lead to the system not trying to cool your home back to the normal temperature until that specific time. Many smart thermostats can also learn when you leave and get home and then use this information to adjust the time and temperature settings automatically.

Don’t Forget to Replace AC Air Filter

One of the most essential tasks for ensuring an AC system works efficiently is replacing the system’s air filter regularly. The general recommendation is to replace an AC air filter every three months. However, there are a variety of factors that will determine how quickly an air filter gets dirty and thus how soon it will need to be replaced. This includes whether you have pets in your home, how dusty your house is and how many hours the AC runs per day.
Running an AC system with a dirty air filter will greatly decrease how effectively it cools and increase its energy usage. It also puts lots of additional strain on the system and can lead to it breaking down or creating issues like the evaporator coil often freezing.

Have Your AC Inspected and Serviced

Any central AC system will always work far more efficiently when it’s maintained annually. Maintenance also allows AC systems to last longer and helps to reduce the risk of them suddenly breaking down. Most of the essential AC maintenance tasks like checking the refrigerant level and cleaning the evaporator coil and condenser coil aren’t something you can effectively do yourself. You could also easily damage the coils or cause the system to leak if you attempt to clean them yourself.

Monitor the Length of AC Cooling Cycles

One easy way to determine if your AC is working effectively is to monitor the length of its cooling cycles. A central AC system is typically programmed so that the thermostat signals it to run when the temperature in the home rises between 1 and 3 degrees above the desired temperature, i.e. what temperature the thermostat is set to. Most systems are then set so that the system shuts off within two to three minutes after reaching the desired temperature. However, sometimes an AC is set so that it will run until the temperature gets 1 to 2 degrees below the desired temperature.

These settings will obviously impact how long an AC system runs before shutting off. That said, the majority of systems will turn on when the temperature increases by 1 degree and shut off fairly soon after the system brings the temperature back down by 1 degree. In this case, your AC should typically only ever run for 15 to 20 minutes at a time when it’s just trying to maintain the temperature.

If your AC runs for well over 20 minutes most of the time, it’s an obvious sign that the system isn’t working as effectively as it should and is using much more energy. This can happen due to issues like the evaporator or condenser coil being dirty or because you’re running the system with a dirty air filter. It can also indicate that your AC needs some type of repair or that the system is starting to wear out and no longer able to cool effectively.

Don’t Set the Temperature Too Low

The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees during the summer. While this will definitely make your AC use less energy, 78 degrees is too warm for many people. The temperature you have set your thermostat at is obviously a matter of personal preference. Nonetheless, setting it to something like 74 degrees instead of 68 or 70 will save you some money.

The team at JW Mitchell Heating & Air Conditioning has more than 30 years of experience providing reliable air conditioning, heating and indoor air quality services. We offer professional HVAC installation and repairs for residents throughout the Costa Mesa area and are ready to help with all of your home comfort needs. If your AC isn’t working effectively, contact us today to get the expert assistance you need.

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