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Expert Series: How to Run Your Air Conditioner Efficiently

It’s been one of the hottest summers in recent history, which means that your air conditioning unit has been working overtime to keep your home cool. You’ve likely noticed the difference on your utility bill and many homeowners want to know how to keep things as efficient as possible.

Searching out an answer, we sat down with Randy Smith of A 1 Kool Heating & Air Conditioning. With over 25 years experience maintaining and installing heating and cooling systems in the Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding region, he shared some great tips on how to run your air conditioner efficiently.

Start off by understanding what you can expect from your AC unit

Randy began by explaining that homeowners need to understand, “Air-conditioning is like a sponge. There is only so much in it, so you can’t squeeze more air out of it by the hour. It’s an air-conditioner; not a refrigerator, not a freezer.” He explained that many problems are the result of the unit being forced to do more than it is capable of.

Never turn off your system when you leave the house

It is better to leave the system on all the time rather than turning it off when you go away. Randy advises his customers to set the thermostat to 27 Celsius when away from home. That way, “it keeps the humidity and mould out of the house, and keeps the hardwood floors from warping. When you are home, you can quickly bring it down from 27 to 23”.

Randy explained that if you turn the system off, you could create problems as the temperature in your home creeps up past 30 degrees. When you turn the unit back on, it’s going to work overtime trying to cool the house down. This hurts both your wallet and your system.

Never program your system below 21 Celsius

Randy stressed that an air conditioner should never be turned below 21 Celsius. The ideal range is 21 – 23 Celsius to avoid freeze-ups and other issues.

Keep your fan on AUTO rather than ON

Avoid over-taxing your system by using the AUTO fan setting, and rarely switching it to ON. “Auto cycles with the systems, system turns off, fan turns off,” Randy began, “that’s the most inexpensive way to operate a system.” So when should you turn your fan on? Use that setting to remove hot pockets by moving air around your house during a party or cooking.

Change your batteries regularly

Dead batteries in a thermostat are an often overlooked and easy-to-fix problem. Randy mentioned he gets a lot of calls from customers thinking they have a broken AC unit, when really the batteries were dead in the thermostat.  He suggests that you get into the habit of changing those batteries annually (and while you’re at it, do your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors too!).

Tip: Not all thermostats have batteries! Yours may be wired.

A less expensive filter may be the better option

Check your filter monthly and replace dirty ones as needed. Many homes can go about 6 months between filter changes depending on dust levels. Plugged up filters create a lot of problems for air-conditioners, restricting airflow and leading to freeze-ups.

A cool tip that Randy provided was to use the lightest filter possible, especially in two-story homes. “The lighter the filter the better. When they say efficiency in regards to filter, it’s only efficient at catching the dirt. It’s not efficient at moving the air around the house. In fact, the cheaper filters are what I use in my house. I have been in the business for 25 years, and they are the only ones I carry in my truck. They’ll catch the hair, and the dust, but let the air flow through.”

Need more tips on how to save money during a hot summer?

Stay tuned for our second post on how to cool your house without using air conditioning.

If you need a certified expert to install or repair your AC unit call Randy Smith at 519-748-3410.