3 Factors That Reduce Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

25 Jul

Every summer, you anticipate the temperatures rising, and with the summer heat inevitably comes a spike in your utility bills. Although you could save a little money by opening a window or taking a cold shower, some scorching days require cooling that only an air conditioner can provide.

Fortunately, you can enjoy your cool air without breaking the bank when you have a high-efficiency air conditioning system. The more efficient your unit, the less energy wasted in cooling your home. The less energy you use, the more money you put back into your pocket.

But to ensure your unit runs at peak performance, you’ll need to address factors that would otherwise reduce efficiency. The following issues, in particular, could mean the difference between a shockingly high utility bill and a more comfortable summer for you and your family.

1. Clogged Air Filters

As a homeowner, you probably already know that you should change your air filter every few months or so. But how often do you follow that advice? Your filter sits out of sight, so it may drop to the bottom of your to-do list as more urgent priorities take up your time.

However, the longer you go without changing the filter, the more clogged it becomes. Eventually, the clogs will prevent your unit from pulling in outside air, and the motors have to work harder, in turn, to compensate. Not only will a dirty filter reduce your unit’s efficiency but it will also lead to excess wear and tear on your system, decreasing the lifespan.

If you can’t remember the last time you’ve changed your filter, check it as soon as you can. If it looks dirty, feel free to swap it out. Then, set a reminder on your smartphone for the next replacement. In an average suburban home, you should change the filter every 90 days. If you have pets or allergies, aim for 30 to 60 days.

2. Dirty Outdoor Condenser Coils

Even if you remember to take care of your indoor filter, you might forget about your outdoor unit. After all, your outdoor unit likely has a protective shell. And by design, the outdoor unit should withstand extreme temperature, heavy rain, and high wind.

But though your outdoor unit relies on durable materials and can handle a lot of what Mother Nature throws its way, this important piece of your cooling system isn’t invincible. Dirt and dust, weeds and grass, twigs and other debris can collect on the condenser fins, or the delicate metallic blades that encompass your unit. When enough particles accumulate, the debris inhibits airflow and the unit’s ability to release heat and cool the refrigerant.

Ideally, you should clean your outdoor unit once a year. However, if heavy rains or floods have clogged your unit, you’ll want to clean it as soon as you can. Keep in mind that the outdoor condenser coils bend easily, and you could crush them or bump the fins during cleaning.

If you don’t have the skill or confidence to clean the unit yourself, call in a technician to do it for you.   

3. Improperly Sized Units

In the air conditioner world, bigger isn’t always better. Although a larger unit could quickly cool your home, it requires extra power to turn on, and your unit will have to cycle on and off frequently to maintain a consistent temperature. Frequent cycling puts extra stress on your cooling system, resulting in more breakdowns and a shorter lifespan.

Similarly, a smaller unit won’t necessarily save you money. As a smaller unit will take longer to cool your home, you can expect it to turn on and stay on for a large majority of the day. The longer your unit runs, the more electricity it requires and the more stress your machine experiences as it tries to keep up with your demands. In some cases, a small unit will never have the chance to properly cool your home, so you might not feel as comfortable during summer’s peak temperatures.

Talk to a technician about measuring your home and your unit. He or she can then discuss whether you need to upgrade to improve efficiency.

Enjoy Lower Utility Bills This Summer

When you keep your unit clean and have the right unit for your home, you can enjoy lower utility bills no matter the season.

However, keep in mind that other factors could affect your air conditioner’s efficiency, including refrigerant leaks, low SEER ratings, and duct leaks. If you worry that your unit can’t perform at its best, call in a professional for advice.