Helping you (and your wallet) survive Florida’s hot season.
From late fall to early spring, some people might get by not using their air conditioner in the Sarasota area. But even the most die-hard Floridians will start relying on their AC once daytime temperatures hit the 90s and nighttime temperatures no longer sink below 70 °F – not to mention when humidity levels rise to nearly 90%.
While a correctly sized air conditioner in good working condition should have no problem cooling your home, there are problems that can arise from a poorly maintained air conditioning system. We have some simple DIY tips that will allow your air conditioner to run more efficiently. Additionally, by following these tips, you can avoid unnecessary strain on your system (increasing its life expectancy), and save yourself money by avoiding costly breakdowns. Then, you can use some of the money you saved to treat your family to ice cream a few times this summer.
Disclaimer: Some of the tips below should be performed by a qualified air conditioning contractor. So if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, call us at (941) 474-3691.
1. Maintain proper airflow for your condensing unit.
The condenser is the outdoor part of your air conditioning system. What it basically does is releases heat that is transferred to it from the inside. If somethings obstructs the airflow, your air conditioner’s efficiency declines and your unit is exposed to unnecessary wear and tear. In extreme cases, overheating could cause serious damage to the system.
Remove any branches, shrubs, debris on or around your air conditioner or dirt in the air vents of your outdoor unit which obstruct air flow. A rule of thumb is to have two feet of space around your air conditioner. So if you want to fence in your unit, make sure you have ample clearance.
2. Insulate your refrigerant line.
To prevent coolness from escaping, the low pressure refrigerant line (the larger one) running from your home to the outdoor unit should be insulated. Rotting, animals or poor installation can cause the insulation to disappear after a while, so it will periodically need to be replaced.
3. Close your drapes, curtains or blinds.
Speaking of insulation: When you are not using a room or when you leave the house, block the heat and sun by closing the drapes, curtains or blinds on your windows and sliding glass doors.
4. Use a programmable thermostat.
While you should not completely turn off your air conditioner when leaving your house (hello, mold and mildew!), turning the temperature a few degrees higher when you will be gone for at least a couple hours will give your air conditioner the breathing time it needs to end up saving you money on the electric bill.
Still want to have it cool inside when you return? Use a programmable thermostat. If you don’t have one yet, contact us to get one installed.
5. Turn off electronic devices when they’re not needed.
This includes large items TVs and computers, but also more basic items like lamps. All these devices have the side effect of releasing heat into your room when they are turned on. Make your air conditioner’s daily battle easier by turning off unused electronics. Your energy bill will thank you – twice.
6. Put a lid on it (your pots and pans, that is).
Did you know that cooking without a lid takes up to 3x times more electricity (and actually lengthens cooking time)? In addition, hot, moist air is released into your room, making your air conditioner work harder to counteract the heat.
7. Get your refrigerant (aka Freon) pressure checked.
The refrigerant between your indoor and outdoor unit is responsible for the temperature transfer. If the pressure gets low, your air conditioner won’t be able to cool properly and will end up running more.
Checking refrigerant levels is a task for which you’ll need to call an air conditioning professional. If you live in Sarasota or Charlotte County, a trained and experienced technician from our Englewood or Punta Gorda locations will be glad to assist you. If your refrigerant is low, not only will we recharge it, but we will also check for any leaks to ensure that it stays at the proper pressure level.
8. Give your air conditioner a head start.
If you spend most of the day at home, don’t wait to turn on your air conditioner until you are bathed in sweat. Not only will you be uncomfortable, but you won’t be doing your AC, or your wallet, any favors. Your air conditioner’s efficiency increases when it is cooler outside, so turn it on before the daytime temperature hits its peak. Otherwise, your system will have to work harder to play catch up.
9. Use realistic temperature settings.
Does it need be 75 °F in your home to feel comfortable, or will 78 °F do just as well? Remember, for every degree cooler that you set on your thermostat, you increase the overall system’s electricity usage by a couple percent.
10. Clean / change your filter.
We’re sure you’ve heard this before. But it is true. Especially in the summer months, you should check / replace your air conditioning filter at least once a month. Besides having cleaner air, you’ll increase the efficiency by 5% to 15% percent.
11. Upgrade to a new air conditioner.
Not sure if your air conditioner will survive the summer? Ask us! We will provide you with an honest assessment. But remember, a new air conditioner might use only half of the electricity your old one does. So the earlier in the summer you upgrade, the more you save. Do the math and see how much how can save by upgrading.
12. Have your air conditioner professionally maintained – and schedule maintenance early.
After all, the best way to prevent your air conditioner from breaking down is to have it professionally maintained at least once a year. Our NATE certified technicians will perform specialized steps to get your air conditioner into shape for the summer, and give you an honest assessment of the overall health of your system. Click Here to find out more about our Maintenance Plans.
Last but not least, if your AC should malfunction, be assured that we provide 24/7 air conditioning repair service – whether your air conditioner has been maintained or not, whether or not we installed it originally, and whether you live in Sarasota or Port Charlotte. So have our phone number (941) 474-3691 handy – save it on your phone, stick it on the fridge or write it with a sharpie on your air conditioner. We are just one call away and we will have your system up and running in no time.
Do you have any other air conditioning related or energy saving tips? Comment below!