There are a lot of things to remember when you own a home. Home upkeep is no simple task and oftentimes new homeowners find themselves struggling to stay on top of all the maintenance that is needed to keep a whole house up and running. But it’s important to not just wait until things go wrong to fix them. If you do that, you’re risking the possibility of needing costly repairs. Everything goes smoother if you adopt some maintenance habits that will keep things from wearing and tearing to the point of breakdown.
One of the aspects of the house that is most commonly overlooked when it comes to regular maintenance is the air conditioning. Many of us take our air conditioning for granted. We let and run and do its thing, taking great pleasure in the comfortable and cool environment it provides for us, without taking any time to prevent malfunctions or losses in efficiency. This tip is all about some of the most common mistakes and bad habits that homeowners often find themselves making or doing, often without realizing it. The point is to highlight some things to avoid so that you’re better educated about what you can do as a homeowner to ensure your air conditioner lasts as long as possible, keeps you as comfortable as possible, and costs you as little money as possible.
Not Changing the Air Filters
This might just be the homeowner mistake that is most common and avoidable. It’s a habit that takes very little time at all and yet makes the world of difference when it comes to your air conditioning. There are so many reasons why it’s a good idea to change your air filters regularly. A dirty and old air filter will lead to poor airflow. That means you’ll be getting less cold air in your house, making you less comfortable. The poor airflow will also cause the air conditioner to take extra time to cool the house down to the temperature the thermostat is set, meaning you’ll find yourself uncomfortably warm for longer when you come home and turn down the air conditioner. And, this extra amount of time means that the air conditioner is going to cost you more in electricity bills.
A dirty air filter won’t be able to trap as many contaminants, from pollen and bacteria to mold spores, meaning the air in your house will become dirtier and less healthy to breathe. This is especially an issue for those with allergies. Then there’s the fact that a dirty air filter can literally lead to a breakdown. The lack of airflow can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up, which can wreck the whole system and lead to the need for costly repairs. All of this can be avoided by purchasing and installing a small filter that’s going to be around $10 at your local home improvement store.
Not Using the Thermostat Efficiently
Simply put, there’s no reason to have the air conditioner on at full blast the whole day long. The first thing you should do when you get your air conditioner installed is locate what your perfect “at home” temperature is. This is the temperature you want the house to be when you’re home, awake and there to enjoy the comfort that your air conditioner can bring. You can find this by first setting the air conditioner a little higher than you know you find perfectly comfortable, say 80 degrees. Then, degree by degree, you should turn air conditioner down. Let the house sit at each degree for five minutes or so. See how it feels. Keep going down until you find the highest temperature that you find comfortable. This is the perfect temperature to leave the thermostat at when you’re home because it is the best compromise between comfort and energy efficiently. A lot of people waste money by keeping their air conditioners set lower than they need to in order to feel comfortable. You’re going to feel that mistake each time you get an electricity bill. In a hot city like Austin, there’s no reason to make your house a fridge.
The second way most people don’t use their thermostat efficiently is that they find their preferred temperature and then just leave their thermostat there all the time, night and day, whether they’re home or away. This is a waste of energy. Not only are you going to be racking up high energy bills this way, you’re giving your air conditioner unnecessary strain as well, which will reduce its lifespan. When everyone is out of the house, the thermostat should be turned up by eight to ten degrees. And most find it easy to let up on the air conditioning when everyone is asleep as well. You can use a ceiling fan in your bedroom to make up for the few degrees. The easiest way to accomplish this efficient use of the thermostat is to invest in a smart thermostat. Either a Wi-Fi or some other kind of programmable thermostat will make it possible for this habit to be done automatically. This way you don’t have to remember to turn the AC up when you leave for work in the morning, it’s done for you.
Not Scheduling Preventative Maintenance
This is a very common mistake homeowners make. It’s an easy mistake to make. No one wants to call professionals over to their house when everything is in working order. But the case for having regular preventative maintenance visits is a strong one. First of all, things go wrong regardless of how careful you are with your air conditioner usage. Wear and tear happens. Debris and dust builds up. Cracks get made and things will eventually stop working at full capacity. The point of preventative maintenance is to spend a little money now so you don’t have to spend a lot of money down the line. The key is in the first word in the phrase, “preventative.”
A skilled technician will be able to go through your entire system and carefully inspect every part for signs of, well, anything that could be off. Coils need cleaning, ducts need sealing, and all this and much more can be done during a preventative maintenance check. It’s highly recommended that every homeowner have their central air conditioner checked and cleaned twice a year. Fall and spring are the best times to do this, but the important thing is just to have it done. Air conditioners may be able to run on their own for extended periods of time, but they need occasional maintenance to operate at maximum efficiency year after year. At least once per cooling season, have a maintenance technician check your unit for any emerging issues that could call for an expensive AC repair down the road. Your HVAC professional will also make some small calibration adjustments to improve your unit's energy efficiency.
Not Taking Advantage of Fans and Curtains
Ceiling fans and air conditioners go together like butter and toast. What’s great about using them both in conjunction is that the air conditioner will cool the air and then the ceiling fan will help it move around circulate. This means the air will be healthier, not as humid, and it will feel cooler to you. This is an important point, that it will “feel” cooler, not necessary be cooler. The way ceiling fans make you cooler is by moving the air around you. They don’t actually produce any cooling effect on their own. This means that using ceiling fans you can enjoy the same feeling of cool even if you turn the AC up a few degrees. This also means that there’s no point in keeping the ceiling fan on once you leave a room however because with no one there to enjoy it, it’s not doing anything for you except using electricity.
Curtains and blinds are a great way to help you air conditioner out. By that, I mean that they take some of the work of cooling the house off of your air conditioner. The sun heating up the house through the windows is one of the biggest ways your house reaches those high summer and early fall temperatures. Don’t make your air conditioner’s job harder by forgetting to use blinds and curtains in rooms you don’t need the light in.
Not Running the AC While Away
This one seems counterintuitive at first, but there’s a logic behind the madness. A lot of people might assume that when they go on vacation, or just out of town for a few days, they should switch their air conditioner off so that they don’t waste energy. It’s a good thought, but flawed. The fact is, while your unit sits idle, mold may creep in and the condition of your unit may deteriorate. Instead of switching your AC off, try to run the air conditioner for at least a few minutes every day to protect your indoor air quality.
You can do this easily and remotely with the use of a Wi-Fi thermostat. These handy devices will allow you to control the thermostat from anywhere as long as you have your phone. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi thermostat but you are going out of town for some time the second best thing is to just raise the temperature it’s set at so that the air conditioner will still run a little each day when the day is at its hottest.
Maintenance and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
As you can see, there are a lot of things to remember when it comes to taking care of your air conditioner and using it as efficiently as possible. Listed above are five mistakes that are very common for homeowners to make, all of which are fairly easily avoidable. That’s good news. Now armed with this new knowledge, you can avoid the mistakes that many find themselves making and enjoy the cool air your AC brings for a long time with a lowered risk of breakdowns and lower energy bills.
However, despite all of this, sometimes repairs are needed. Even the most vigilant homeowner, who regularly changes their air filters, runs their AC only as often as need be and only as low as need be, who uses fans and curtains to his full advantage, can’t prevent the natural wear and tear and the possibility of something unexpected going wrong. If you ever find yourself in need of AC repair in Austin, call AC Express. We perform everything from routine maintenance to repair to full system replacement. AC Express is an Austin AC repair company that works everywhere from Lago Vista and Lakeway to Taylor and Hutto. Call today!