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The Best Way to Run Your Air Conditioner This Summer

Summer is here, and as the temperatures rise, so do our desires for the right air conditioner to stay calm and comfortable. Running your air conditioner efficiently during this season is not just about comfort; it can significantly impact your energy bills and the environment.

In this guide, we’ll take you through a comprehensive journey on how to make the most of your air conditioner, keeping you comfortable and your wallet happy while reducing your carbon footprint.

When the summer heat becomes unbearable, our trusty air conditioners rescue us. But how we use them matters more than we might realise.

Using your air conditioner efficiently isn’t just a matter of personal comfort; it can lower energy bills and reduce the strain on the environment.

In this guide, we’ll explore the best ways to run your air conditioner during the summer, offering tips and strategies to help you stay cool without breaking the bank or harming the planet.

Understanding Your Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner, that beloved appliance keeping you cool during scorching summers, is a complex system with several crucial components working together to create a comfortable indoor environment. Before we delve into the best practices for efficient usage, you must familiarise yourself with these components.

  1. Evaporator coil: This is where the magic of cooling begins. The evaporator coil is responsible for absorbing heat from the indoor air. When warm air passes over the ring, it causes the refrigerant inside to evaporate, removing heat and moisture from the air. The system circulates this cooled air back into your home.
  2. Condenser coil: The condenser coil, often located in the outdoor unit of your air conditioner, plays a vital role in releasing the heat collected from inside your home. It transforms the refrigerant vapour into a liquid state, releasing heat into the external environment.
  3. Compressor: Think of the compressor as the heart of your AC system. It’s responsible for pressuring the refrigerant, essential for heat exchange. The compressor pumps the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser coils, maintaining the heat removal and cooling cycle.
  4. Fan: You’ll find fans in the indoor and outdoor units. These are responsible for splitting system air for circulating air over the coils and throughout your home. The indoor fan blows cooled air into your living spaces, while the outdoor fan assists in dissipating heat from the condenser coil.
  5. Filters: Filters are the unsung heroes of your air conditioning system. They ensure the air entering your home is free from dust, allergens, and other particles. Over time, these filters can become clogged with debris, reducing the system’s efficiency and air quality. Regularly cleaning or replacing filters is a simple but essential maintenance task.
  6. Thermostat: The thermostat serves as your command centre. It allows you to set the desired temperature for your home. Modern thermostats offer programmable features, enabling you to schedule temperature adjustments based on your daily routine.

Understanding these components is your first step towards using your air conditioner efficiently. Knowing how they work together lets you make informed decisions about maintenance, settings, and energy-saving practices. In the following sections, we’ll explore how to make the most of your air conditioner while keeping your comfort and energy bills in check.

Setting the Right Temperature

Now that we’ve covered the fundamental components of your air conditioning system, it’s time to talk about one of the most crucial factors in using it efficiently: setting the right temperature on your thermostat.

Striking a balance between comfort and energy efficiency can significantly affect your bills and environmental impact.

  1. Optimal temperature: The US Department of Energy recommends keeping your thermostat at around 25-26°C (78°F) when you’re at home. This temperature range provides a comfortable indoor climate without excessive cooling. Of course, personal preferences vary, so feel free to adjust within this range to suit your comfort level.
  2. Adjust when you’re away: It’s important to note that there’s no need to maintain the same indoor temperature when you’re away from home. You can reduce your energy consumption and save on cooling costs by adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature (or lower if you have a cooling-dominant climate) when you’re not there to enjoy the cool air. Programmable thermostats are a fantastic tool for achieving this. They allow you to set schedules that automatically raise or lower the temperature based on your daily routine.
  3. The benefits of reasonable temperatures: Maintaining a reasonable temperature offers many benefits. Firstly, you ensure your comfort without overcooling your space. Secondly, you reduce the workload on your air conditioner. When the AC doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a lower temperature, it consumes less energy. It translates to lower energy bills, vacuum cleaners, and a reduced environmental impact.
  4. Be mindful of extremes: While setting the thermostat to Arctic levels on a sweltering day is tempting, this approach could be more energy efficient. Your AC doesn’t cool your home faster by placing it extremely low; it only prolongs the cooling process and consumes more energy. The same applies to setting the thermostat to excessively high temperatures in the winter.

Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

Like any other appliance, your air conditioner requires regular maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. Neglecting maintenance can lead to reduced cooling capacity, higher energy consumption, and a shorter lifespan for your AC unit.

Let’s dive into the essential steps for maintaining your air conditioner.

  • Regular filter cleaning/replacement: Filters are the unsung heroes of your AC system. They trap dust, allergens, and particles, ensuring the air you breathe is clean. Over time, these filters can become clogged, restricting airflow and causing your system to work harder. It’s a good practice to clean or replace your filters every 1 to 3 months, depending on usage and the type of filter your system uses.
  • Coil cleaning: The evaporator and condenser coils are critical in heat exchange. Dirty coils can hinder heat transfer and reduce your system’s efficiency. Clean these coils at the start of the cooling season and periodically throughout the summer. Be sure to turn off the power to the unit before cleaning.
  • Clear debris: Outdoor units can accumulate debris like leaves, grass, and dirt, obstructing airflow. Regularly check and clear any obstructions around the outdoor condenser unit to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Check and tighten electrical connections: Loose connections can lead to electrical issues and decreased efficiency. Inspect and tighten electrical connections, including wires and terminals. Turn off the power before performing this task.
  • Lubricate moving parts: Some AC components, like the fan motor, may require lubrication to reduce friction and keep operating smoothly. Check your owner’s manual to determine which parts, if any, need lubrication.
  • Inspect the condensate drain line: The condensate drain line removes excess moisture from your AC. If it becomes clogged, it can cause water damage and reduced humidity control. Check and clear the line to ensure proper drainage.
  • Test the thermostat: Verify that your thermostat is accurately reading and responding to temperature changes. If you suspect any issues with the thermostat, consult a professional for calibration or replacement.
  • Schedule professional maintenance: While homeowners can handle many maintenance tasks, they should schedule professional maintenance at least once a year. HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technicians have the expertise and tools to perform comprehensive checks and tune-ups and identify potential issues before they become costly problems.

Maintaining your air conditioner regularly ensures its efficiency, extends its lifespan, reduces energy consumption, and prevents costly breakdowns. Remember, a well-maintained AC keeps you cool and comfortable and contributes to a more sustainable and cost-effective cooling experience.

Ventilation and Insulation

When it comes to maintaining a comfortable indoor environment and maximising the efficiency of your HVAC system, ventilation and insulation are two vital elements you shouldn’t overlook.

  • Insulation for energy efficiency: Proper insulation in your home is like a cozy winter blanket and a refreshing summer shade. Insulation keeps your home cool with air inside and prevents hot outdoor air from infiltrating your living spaces. It reduces the workload on your air conditioner, allowing it to operate more efficiently. Check and improve insulation in critical areas such as the attic, walls, and floors.
  • Ventilation for air quality and comfort: Good ventilation is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to maintain a healthier indoor air quality by expelling stale air and moisture. Secondly, it can significantly contribute to cooling your home. Here are some tips:
  • Exhaust fans: In areas prone to heat and humidity, such as the kitchen and bathroom, exhaust fans are your best friends. These fans remove warm, moist air, preventing it from spreading throughout your home and making it feel stuffy. Make sure to use them when cooking or taking hot showers.
  • Cross ventilation: On milder days, use cross-ventilation by opening windows on opposite sides of your home. This natural airflow can help cool your living spaces without relying solely on your air conditioner. To do this effectively, create a pathway for the air to flow through.
  • Nighttime ventilation: Evenings and nights often bring cooler outdoor temperatures. Open your windows during this time to let in the cool air. Remember to close them during the day to prevent hot air from entering.
  • Window coverings: Consider using reflective or light-coloured window coverings to reduce the heat from direct sunlight entering your home.

Proper insulation and adequate ventilation can create a more energy-efficient, comfortable, cost-effective indoor environment. Your air conditioner will work less and maintain your desired temperature more efficiently, resulting in lower energy bills and a reduced environmental footprint.

Using Fans Effectively

Fans can be your allies in maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient environment when used with your air conditioner. They help distribute cool air and can reduce the need for excessive cooling. Here are some tips on using fans effectively:

  1. Ceiling fans: Ceiling fans are excellent tools for enhancing your air conditioner’s efficiency. During the summer, set your ceiling fans to run counterclockwise. It creates a cooling breeze that makes you feel more comfortable, allowing you to set your thermostat higher without sacrificing comfort.
  2. Box fans and floor fans: Consider using portable boxes or floor fans to circulate cool air effectively throughout your rooms. Place them strategically to direct the airflow where it’s needed most. For air conditioning units, for example, position a box fan in front of the AC vents to help distribute the cooled air more evenly.
  3. Fan placement: To maximise their effectiveness, place fans near windows or doors on the side of your home facing the prevailing wind direction. It encourages cross-ventilation and promotes better air circulation.
  4. Use fans in moderation: While fans can enhance comfort and reduce the reliance on your air conditioner, avoid leaving them running in unoccupied rooms. Fans are incredible people, not rooms, so there’s no need to waste energy in empty spaces.
  5. Raise the thermostat setting: When using fans, you can often raise your thermostat setting by a few degrees without feeling uncomfortable. The moving air from the fans can create a cooling effect, allowing you to save on cooling costs.
  6. Turn fans off when leaving a room: Remember to turn off fans when you leave a room. Fans only work to improve comfort when people are in a few other things nearby.
  7. Use fans at night: Consider running fans in your bedroom instead of the air conditioner on cooler evenings. It can be an energy-efficient way to stay comfortable while you sleep.

By using fans effectively, you can make your HVAC system work more efficiently and comfortably. They help distribute the cool air your AC generates and can even allow you to set your thermostat a bit higher, saving energy and reducing your cooling costs.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

To make the most of your portable air conditioner and ensure both comfort and energy savings, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes:

  1. Setting the temperature too low: One common mistake is setting the thermostat to excessively low temperatures, thinking it will cool your home faster. It only makes your AC work longer and consumes more energy. Set a reasonable and comfortable temperature, and let your air conditioner work at its own pace.
  2. Neglecting maintenance: Ignoring regular maintenance tasks like changing air filters and cleaning coils can reduce your AC’s efficiency. A clogged filter and dirty coils force your AC to work harder, increasing energy bills. Regular maintenance is essential for peak performance.

Implementing Energy-Saving Practices

Besides optimising your air conditioner, there are additional energy-saving practices you can implement:

  1. Use blinds and curtains: Close blinds and curtains during the day to block out direct sunlight. This simple step reduces the heat entering your home, lightening the workload on your AC. Opt for reflective or light-coloured window and wall coverings for better results.
  2. Smart cooking habits: Consider cooking during more excellent hours, such as in the morning or evening, to avoid generating excessive heat in your kitchen. You can also use smaller appliances, like a microwave or toaster oven, which produce less heat than a full-size range.
  3. Efficient use of lights and electronics: Light and electronic devices can create a cooler indoor environment and lower energy consumption. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs and turn off lights and electronics when not in use to reduce heat generation.

Choosing an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner

When it’s time to select an air conditioner, prioritise energy efficiency for long-term savings:

  1. High SEER ratings: Look for units with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings. Higher SEER ratings indicate better energy efficiency, resulting in lower electricity bills and a reduced environmental impact.
  2. Correct AC sizing: The right AC size is crucial. An oversized unit can cool your space too quickly, causing it to cycle on and off frequently, which could be more efficient and can lead to temperature imbalances. Consult a professional to determine the correct size for your home, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency.

Smart Thermostats and Home Automation

Embrace modern technology to optimise your air conditioning efficiency further:

  1. Smart thermostats: Smart thermostats allow you to control your AC remotely and set precise schedules to save energy. Some can even learn your behaviour and adapt to optimise cooling while minimising energy consumption.
  2. Home automation: Home automation systems can coordinate various appliances and devices to work together for optimal energy efficiency. This technology enables a more streamlined and energy-conscious lifestyle, saving costs and reducing carbon footprint.

Staying Cool Without Overusing Your AC

Finally, explore alternative methods to stay cool without overusing your air conditioner:

  1. Natural ventilation: Open windows in the evening to allow cool outdoor air to circulate through your home. This natural ventilation can maintain comfort without solely relying on your AC.
  2. Air-conditioned public spaces: Use air-conditioned public spaces, like libraries, shopping malls, or community centres, to take a refreshing break from the heat. It’s a cost-effective way to stay cool while reducing your home’s AC usage.

By avoiding common mistakes, implementing energy-saving practices, choosing an energy-efficient AC, and adopting innovative technologies and alternative, efficient cooling methods, you can maintain comfort, reduce energy bills, and minimise your environmental impact during the hot summer months.

Stay Cool During Summer

In the scorching summer heat, running your air conditioner efficiently is about more than personal comfort; it’s about making environmentally conscious choices and saving on energy costs. Following the advice in this top aircon-using guide, you can find the perfect balance between staying calm and being mindful of your energy consumption.

The foundational steps are understanding the inner workings of your air conditioning system, setting the right temperature, and maintaining it properly. Avoiding common mistakes, implementing energy-saving practices, and using fans effectively can enhance your cooling experience.

Choosing an energy-efficient air conditioner with the right size is essential for long-term savings and sustainability. Smart thermostats and home automation bring modern technology into new air conditioners into the equation, allowing for precise control and optimised cooling.

Furthermore, remember alternative cooling methods, such as natural ventilation and spending time in air-conditioned public spaces. These approaches can provide relief from the heat without overusing your home AC.

As you navigate the rising temperatures, remember that with some knowledge and effort, you can enjoy a relaxed and comfortable summer without the guilt of overworking your AC or draining your wallet. It’s not just about staying cool; it’s about being cool to the environment and your wallet.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

Published: 7 November 2023