With the sun beating down and your air conditioner running around the clock, it’s easy to open up your monthly energy bill and feel drained. Plus, there are the record-high inflation and gas prices…it can feel like the bills just keep piling up.
At Lee Company, we believe your comfort should be affordable. And there are certainly ways to combat the southern heat without breaking the bank. Improving the efficiency of your home’s AC unit is a great place to start!
Our goal is to keep you cool and comfortable all summer long — without costing you an arm and a leg. In this blog, we’ll discuss the red flags of an inefficient air conditioner and simple central air efficiency tricks to improve it.
5 Warning signs of an inefficient AC
When summer is in full swing, your air conditioner should be providing cool air at the touch of a button. But like any machine, air conditioners can develop problems after years of use or in exceptionally hot weather. And these problems can cause your unit to work less efficiently, driving up your energy bills in the process.
So how can you tell if your air conditioner is no longer running as efficiently as it should be? Here are 5 warning signs to look out for:
1. Higher than normal energy bills
Homeowners should expect their energy bills to be a bit higher in the summer months. But if you notice a significant spike in your bill, it could be a sign that your air conditioner is no longer running as efficiently as it used to. Look for year-over-year trends to see if there’s a normal summer increase in your utility bill.
2. Unusually loud operation
Strange HVAC noises like grinding, squealing, or hissing could be a sign that your air conditioner is in need of repair. If your unit is louder than usual, an inspection by a professional AC technician can help identify the problem.
3. Reduced airflow
If your air conditioner isn’t providing the same level of cooling as it used to, the reduced airflow could be to blame. A dirty air filter is one possible culprit — but it could also be a more serious issue like a refrigerant leak, blocked or disconnected air ducts, or a broken fan.
4. Cycling on and off more frequently
If your air conditioner is constantly turning on and off, it could be a sign that your thermostat is set too low. This causes your unit to work overtime on the hottest days.
Recalibrating or replacing your thermostat, or even just adjusting the temperature, can sometimes solve the problem. But cycling could also be an issue with the air conditioner itself, like a clogged filter or dirty coils.
5. Ice on the AC
If you notice ice or frost on your air conditioner, it’s a definite sign that something is wrong. Ice can form on the coils when they’re too dirty, preventing proper airflow and causing the unit to work harder. Ice can also indicate a refrigerant leak, which should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to take action. The sooner you address the problem, the less impact it will have on your wallet and your comfort.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the warning signs of an inefficient air conditioner let’s talk about what you can do to improve your home’s AC system.
Set your thermostat to 78 degrees
To escape the heat this summer, you might be tempted to crank the AC down as low as it will go. But setting your thermostat too low won’t cool your home any faster — it will just cause your air conditioner to work overtime, drive up your energy bills, and possibly even damage your HVAC system.
So what’s the best setting for your thermostat?
According to the Department of Energy, the smaller the temperature difference between inside and outside, the lower your total cooling costs will be.
Keeping your thermostat set to 78 degrees is a good rule of thumb. It’s comfortable enough to prevent sweating but just high enough to keep your energy bills in check.
If you have a smart thermostat, you can take advantage of pre-programmed settings that will automatically adjust the temperature based on energy demand periods, whether anyone is home, and much more.
And even with a standard programmable thermostat, you can save up to 10% a year on cooling just by adjusting it to a higher temperature (about 7-10°F more) for 8 hours while you sleep.
Use ceiling fans to circulate air
Give your AC some assistance by circulating air with ceiling fans. Ceiling fans use much less energy than air conditioners. Not only will it help your AC move air throughout the house, but it can also make you feel cooler — allowing you to raise the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing comfort.
When using ceiling fans in the summer, be sure to set them to rotate counterclockwise. This will create a wind chill effect, pushing cool air down from the ceiling.
Just be sure to turn them off when you leave the room to avoid wasting energy.
Keep filters clean
One of the simplest things you can do to improve your air conditioner’s efficiency is to keep your air filters clean.
Dirty filters make your AC work harder, which not only drives up energy bills but can also shorten the lifespan of your unit.
Check and clean your air filters regularly. If you have pets or live in an area with a lot of dust and pollen, you may need to do this monthly.
If you have disposable filters, replace them as often as they need to be replaced (typically every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter).
And if you have reusable filters, rinse them in cool water and let them dry completely before putting them back in place.
Clear debris from vents and unit
Spring cleaning isn’t just for that overstuffed junk drawer…it’s also for your air conditioner. If you missed an opportunity to clean your vents and AC unit in the spring, now’s the time to do it:
- Clear any debris (leaves, dirt, etc.) from the area around your outside AC unit. This will improve airflow and help prevent damage.
- Look at your indoor vents and ensure they’re not blocked by furniture or other items.
- Use a vacuum attachment to clean cobwebs and other debris from the vents themselves. Scrubbing the vent covers with a soapy sponge can also help remove built-up dirt and grime.
If you have a window air conditioner, be sure to clean the filter regularly and wipe down the unit with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt.
Invest in routine maintenance for your AC unit
Investing in routine maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your air conditioner running efficiently.
Just like your car, your AC unit needs regular tune-ups to run its best. This preventative maintenance can help identify issues before they become big problems. It can also increase the lifespan of your HVAC equipment.
At Lee Company, our comfort advisors can help you create an AC maintenance plan that’s tailored to your specific needs. We offer both one-time and annual service agreements that include everything from system tune-ups to 24/7 emergency service.
Contact us today to learn more about our maintenance plans and how they can help improve the efficiency of your air conditioner this summer!