Is Your AC System Running Less Than Efficiently in Summer Heat?
Here in the Coachella Valley, our air conditioners are no strangers to hot weather during the summertime. With temperatures frequently in the triple digits, we have some of the hardest working air conditioners, coupled with the highest energy bills and air conditioning repair costs, of anywhere in the country. That’s why around this time of year, many homeowners are wondering how they can keep their cooling systems running strong & efficiently throughout our lengthy summer season.
Therefore, we’re going to take a moment today to talk about some things you can do, and some of the services that Hydes provides, that will maximize air conditioner performance in hot weather!
What Can You Do To Maximize Air Conditioner Performance in Hot Weather
- Keep a clean air filter. Your air conditioner will be working hard enough in hot weather, and a dirty filter will only force it to work harder. Be sure to check, change and clean your air filter once per month so that you don’t add to your system’s workload.
- Raise your thermostat setting when you’re away. Outdoor temperatures are at their highest during the daytime, which is also when many houses are empty while people are away at school or work. By raising your thermostat by about 5 degrees while you’re away from home, you can ease the load on your air conditioner and lower the risk of overheating, breakdowns and high energy bills.
- Close drapes and blinds during the day. One simple way to limit the amount of heat that gets into your home is to close your drapes and blinds during the day. This will block out the sun’s rays and make it easier for your A/C to cool your home.
- Make sure all of your vents are open and clear. Your air conditioner is designed to cool a space of a specific square footage, so your home will not cool as efficiently or effectively if any of your air registers are closed or blocked by furniture.
- Keep windows and doors shut & sealed. Any time that a door or window is open, cool air will escape your home and warm air will get in. That’s why it’s important to minimize the amount of time that your doors and windows are open so that your air conditioner won’t have to make up for the added heat. Adding weather stripping and caulk also known as "weatherization" to your existing windows/doors could also have a significant impact on your home comfort. Replacing those old, poorly sealed windows & doors could draw even more positive results and even lower your energy bills!
- Mind your outdoor unit! Avoid landscaping with lots of rock or asphalt as it radiates heat around your home, causing your system to work harder. Placing your unit in the shade will also help to ease the burden of the summer heat. Keep all landscaping at least 2-4ft away from the unit itself and keep all grass/shrubbery trimmed to ensure adequate airflow.
Extreme Heat FAQS
The best way to run your home AC unit in extreme heat is never turn off your AC system. Run your system earlier so you are cooling it down when the weather isn't at its peak. Turning your AC down to 68 degrees thinking it will cool down faster the lower it is set, usually will not work. When you can't reach that temperature you think the system isn't working. If you are going out of town set it at 82 degrees.
Here are some tips to help you stay cool and optimize the performance of your air conditioning system:
- Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature that provides relief from the heat but is not excessively low. Aim for a temperature that balances your comfort and energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat to 78°F (25.5°C) when you are at home and adjusting it higher when you are away.
- Keep Doors and Windows Closed: To prevent warm air from entering your home and cool air from escaping, make sure all doors and windows are properly sealed and closed tightly. This helps maintain a cooler indoor temperature.
- Utilize Shades and Curtains: Close curtains, blinds, or shades during the day to block out direct sunlight and prevent the heat from entering your home. Consider using reflective or blackout curtains for maximum heat reduction.
- Limit Heat-Generating Activities: Minimize activities that generate excess heat, such as using the oven or stove, running large appliances, or taking long hot showers. These activities can add to the heat load inside your home, making your air conditioner work harder to cool the space.
- Use Fans Strategically: Use ceiling fans or portable fans in conjunction with your air conditioner. Fans help circulate the cool air throughout the room, allowing you to feel more comfortable at higher thermostat settings.
- Maintain Your Air Conditioner: Regularly clean or replace air filters as clogged filters can obstruct airflow and reduce cooling efficiency. Additionally, schedule periodic maintenance for your air conditioning system to ensure it operates optimally during extreme heat conditions.
- Reduce Indoor Heat Gain: Take steps to minimize the heat generated inside your home. Use energy-efficient lighting options, turn off unnecessary electronics and lights, and avoid placing heat-producing devices near the thermostat or air vents.
- Consider Zoning or Programmable Thermostats: If possible, use zoning systems or programmable thermostats to cool specific areas of your home as needed. This allows you to focus cooling efforts where they are most required and optimize energy usage.
How to Evaluate the Performance of Your HVAC System
- Think about how comfortable your home was. Take a moment to think about how comfortable your home was this past year. Were there specific times of the year that your home was too hot or too cold? How well did your system operate in extreme temperatures? Make note of any noticeably uncomfortable times that weren't directly related to a repair that fixed the problem. Keeping track of this information will allow you to provide useful information to our technicians during service or maintenance calls and help you determine when it's time to replace your system.
- Count up your repair calls. How many times did you have to call to have your furnace or air conditioner repaired this past year? Were they small repairs or large and expensive ones? Did you need more repairs this year than you've needed in the past? If your system broke down more than usual in 2014, next year might be a good time to install a new one.
- Review your energy bills. Take a look at your energy bills and look for any telling trends. Your bills will naturally go up during the hottest and coldest times of the year, but look for any signs that they are on the rise across the board. If you have access to your statements from 2013, compare them with this year's and see which ones were more expensive. Rising energy bills is a good indication that either your system is aging or you could benefit from making some whole house efficiency improvements.
- Don't forget about air quality. It can be easy to forget how big of a role your heating and cooling system plays in the health of your indoor environment. How quickly did illnesses spread throughout your home this year? Did any of your family members suffer from allergies or asthma? If these health issues are common, your family would likely benefit from upgrading your air filtration system
How Hydes Can Help Maximize Air Conditioner Performance in Hot Weather
- Air conditioner tune-up. Although it’s late into the cooling season, some homeowners have not yet scheduled their annual air conditioner tune-up. A professional tune-up is the best way to ensure that you get the maximum performance out of your system, so it’s never too late to schedule one.
- Seal air and duct leaks. Many homes have leaks in their ducts or foundation that constantly allow cool air to escape and warm air to enter your home. This not only makes it difficult to keep your home cool, but it also wastes a whole lot of energy. Hydes will inspect your ducts and home for leaks and seal them up so that cool air stays inside where it belongs.
- Improve insulation. Insulation prevents heat from outside from infiltrating your home. If your home is not well insulated, your air conditioner will have to work much harder and your home will not be as comfortable as it could be. Hydes will check your home’s insulation levels and install more insulation where necessary.
If you have any questions about air conditioner performance in hot weather, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Hydes, your Indio, CA, air conditioning contractor at (760)360-2202.