Maintain Your AC Unit to Improve Performance and Save Money
Your air conditioning system is a silent partner whose company you greatly enjoy on those hot days. When your AC system is running well, you pay little attention to the appliance. But when it's not running? Well, that you notice immediately. Furthermore, the costs associated with controlling the temperature in your home are significant, and if your HVAC system isn't running efficiency, then your costs only go up.
However, with some diligent maintenance you can keep your AC unit running at peak performance and reduce its impact on your energy bills. Some maintenance you can perform yourself, while for other things it's better to bringing in a professional technician.
Air Conditioner Maintenance You Can Perform Yourself
Fortunately, ensuring your HVAC system is running at peak performance doesn't always require an expensive repair bill. There are plenty of things you can do yourself to make sure your HVAC system is up to the task with a little preventative maintenance.
- Change the furnace filter: Why is this tip number one? Simple: It's easy to do and can have a big impact on the health of your HVAC system. A clean filter can reduce your energy usage by 15 percent. If your filter is temporary, replace it every month on a day you'll remember — like the first of the month. And if it's a permanent filter, take it out and rinse it off monthly.
- Clear the drainage hole: Air conditioners commonly have a drainage hole located at their cabinet's base, beneath the evaporator fins. In order for your air conditioner to work effectively, this hole must be kept clear. While the hole may be too small for you to clean out manually, a paper clip or small piece of wire works wonderfully.
- Dry out your dehumidifier: Depending on the time of year, a dehumidifier can be invaluable. To be sure it's working at maximum capacity, remove the outer casing and allow your system to dry. Once the system is dry, vacuum the entire unit to remove excess dirt and debris before putting it back together.
- Remove obstructions around your exterior system: Though the AC is located outside your home, you cannot afford to sacrifice it to the elements. Inspect the unit at least twice a month and remove loose vegetation or debris. Standing vegetation surrounding your air conditioner should not be allowed to grow within two feet of the unit. This clear zone allows your air conditioner to pull in the air it needs to control the temperature in your home.
- Clean the bathroom fans: Your bathroom fans work hard all year and this is the perfect time to ensure the work they do is as efficient as possible. Remove the covers from your fans before washing them with soap and water. Once the covers are off, use a toothbrush to clean the fan blades before reapplying the cover. Just make sure the power is off before starting this task.
- Add a smart thermostat: Smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature so you can set your home to be warmer during periods when you're away and more comfortable when you're home. The system will also communicate with you and provide ways of saving even more energy and lowering your monthly bill.
The Benefits of Professional Attention to Your AC Unit
The warmest days of the summer are when you really count on your air conditioner to go above and beyond. At the same time, it's this extra hard work that can cause your system to fail right when you need it most. To prevent that from happening, spring is the perfect time to get your air conditioner serviced before a system failure strikes you. Your local HVAC professional will be able to take a more detailed look at your system and identify problems you may have otherwise missed. Follow them around during their inspection and ask questions. You may just learn some insights that will be invaluable in your ongoing efforts to reduce your energy usage and total bill. A full AC system servicing offers a number of benefits, including:
- Preventing little issues from becoming big problems: Wear and tear are forever joined; the more wear you have, the more tear there will be. The same is true with your air conditioning system. Problems that start small will gradually grow if they are allowed to continue. Having your AC serviced allows a licensed technician to identify and repair these problems before they become too big. This not only ensures your system will remain functional, but saves you money by warding off a larger, costlier repair project or even a unit replacement.
- Protecting your unit's warranty: Like many larger-priced items, air conditioners commonly come with a long-term warranty that will step in and cover the costs should something happen to your unit. However, unlike many other products, AC warranties are often tied to requirements for seasonal maintenance, and a failure to adhere to this maintenance could void the warranty. Having your unit serviced by a professional technician ensures your unit is running well and that your warranty is protected.
- Reducing environmental impact: If you live near the ocean, it is especially important that you have your unit routinely serviced. Salt carried in the sea breeze can find its way into your AC unit, accelerating the rusting process. Cleaning the unit frequently removes this salt before it has time to build up and cause your system to rust out.
- Improving the efficiency of your unit: On those blisteringly hot summer days, when you go indoors you want to cool down as quickly as possible. One of the central duties of a system inspection is to remove buildup that may be clogging the condenser. The longer this buildup is allowed to persist, the more clogged your system will become, making your unit more inefficient. This is important because an inefficient system will take longer to cool your home.
- Saving money: The more you use your AC unit, the more your electricity bill will increase. Because of that, it pays to run your unit as efficiently as possible, ensuring you get the desired effect for minimal expense. What's more, the more care you give your appliance today, the longer it is likely to last, allowing you to put off for years the very costly necessity of purchasing and installing a brand new air conditioner.