Air conditioners keep you cool and comfortable, but when improperly maintained, they will cost you more and can be hazards to indoor air quality and your health. This Hearts guide to proper air conditioner maintenance will help you get the most out of your cooling system to save you money and make your home healthier.
Quick Facts: Air Conditioner Costs
- 17% of home energy is spent on cooling: Energy costs for cooling your home make up 17% of the total bill that you pay each month.[i]
- 50% more cooling costs on poorly maintained air conditioners: Air conditioners that are not maintained properly are not efficient, which can increase your cooling costs by 50%.[ii]
Take Action! Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance
- Keep air filters clean: Remove the filter, vacuum to remove dust particles, and wash it off with some soap, then dry completely prior to placing it back inside the air conditioner. If the filter is too dirty, simply replace it with a new one. This is particularly important when you have a window air conditioner.
- Maintain proper air flow into the outdoor condensing unit: The unit has to be able to freely draw in air from the outside; blockages make the air conditioner exert more effort than it is meant to. Check the area around the outdoor condensing unit to make sure that grass, debris, or weeds are not blocking the air flow. You may want to consider using a shield, which is a washable and fabric lattice that prevents dirt and leaves from blocking the air flow.
- Use the correct refrigerant charge: Correcting the refrigerant charge in a direct expansion air conditioner can reduce cooling costs by up to 10%.[iii] You’ll know yours is overcharged if it frosting on the evaporator entrance, warm on the suction line, or cool on the liquid line. Have a professional measure and correct the levels to improve efficiency.
- Clean out the coils: Dirt, oil, and grease accumulate on the coils inside both a room air conditioner and a central air conditioner, reducing the unit’s efficiency. Remove dust and dirt by vacuuming and then washing the coils, or hire a professional to do the job to a higher standard.
- Adjust and clean blower components: When improperly aligned, these can reduce airflow and increase cooling costs by 15%.[iv] Make sure they’re clean and properly aligned on a regular basis. A professional can help with this, too, if you’re unsure how to properly maintain blower components.
Dig Deeper: Air Conditioner Maintenance Health Benefits
- Dirty air conditioners put your health at risk. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety discusses what Legionnaire’s disease is and how it can be prevented by proper air conditioner maintenance.\
Image via Flickr: Kohel M
[i] ENERGY STAR. (n.d.). Save energy at home. In ENERGY STAR. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home
[ii] Reliant provides energy efficiency tips for upcoming summer months. (2012, May 10). In Business Wire. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120510006220/en/Reliant-Energy-Efficiency-Tips-Upcoming-Summer-Months
[iii] Federal Energy Management Program Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Actions You Can Take to Reduce Cooling Costs. Retrieved from US Department of Energy: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/pdfs/om_cooling.pdf
[iv] Heat and Cool Efficiency – Maintenance Checklist. (n.d.). Retrieved from ENERGY STAR: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_maintenance