The Best Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

According to the Department of Energy reports, cooling and heating bills can make up approximately 50 percent of your total utility expenses. This makes using central air conditioners part of the biggest energy expense for an average U.S. home.

With warmer weather fast approaching, we have made a list of easy, no-cost ways to improve the efficiency of air conditioning in your house so that you can avail the most from your system while keeping your expenses under control. In this blog, we shall highlight the eight best, no-cost ideas for maintenance of air conditioning units. They can help keep your air conditioning systems healthy as the weather gets warmer and homeowners start switching on their units.

How To Take Care Of Your Air Conditioning Units Yourselves Before Calling An Expert

Your outdoor unit will function extremely efficiently if clean and clear of debris. Therefore clean it thoroughly. Click here to read our HVAC performance article that includes a video on how to clean its condenser properly. Only a professional should perform a more thorough cleaning.

Keep vents unblocked and vacuum indoor vents. To help maintain steady airflow from your system vacuum away any debris and dust from indoor supply vents. Also, prevent items like toys, furniture, and blinds from blocking the vents.

Increase your thermostat by some degrees. Typically, adjusting temperatures by 5 to 8 degrees (up in summer, down in winter) can help save energy and money. Programmable thermostats allow you to automatically change the temperature for varying times of the day or when you shall be away from your house for several hours.

You should keep heat-producing appliances such as lamps away from the thermostat. Keeping heat-generating appliances near the thermostat will inform it that the air inside your home requires more cooling, causing air conditioners to work harder and run longer than required.

Keep blinds and curtains closed during the daytime. Keeping your curtains or blinds closed, when direct sun hits your home’s windows, allows some of the heat to warm the interior of your home.

Clear the drain line. The indoor cooling unit contains a drain, normally mounted atop the furnace in the basement. Flushing a cup of chlorine bleach down the drain of your air conditioner and then rinsing it with a gallon of water, helps keep the drain clear through the summer. Keeping your drain line clear can prevent your basement from being flooded with water in case the drain chokes.

Avoid using ovens and dryers during the hottest hours of the day. Running dryers leads to warm air to be sucked in into your home and using the oven will add more warm air to your house, forcing your air conditioner to work harder.

Insulate all exposed ductwork. Ensure ductwork running through unconditioned space is sealed correctly so that it does not leak air-conditioned air. Use UL 181-rated duct sealing tape to fix visible leaks; however, ensure professional checks the ductwork too during his next scheduled maintenance visit. In addition, insulate the ductwork with the proper thickness duct insulating material.

You need not always spend lots of money to maintain your central air conditioning system.

Having knowledge about the different parts of your HVAC system, and ensuring that it runs efficiently ensures your system stays in top working condition during the summer when you need it the most.

Regular maintenance along with employing the tips mentioned above helps you save money and reduce the chances of a problem developing in your system. It also helps you take preventive measures in case you observe any faults that may be easy to fix during its initial stages.

The above tips, together with additional steps mentioned in our “25 Ways to Save” e-book ensure your system works efficiently and that its parts are in good shape. Therefore, go through the tips once again, and make sure that you implement them.

Hire a professional such as the contractors at to check your system at least once a year to ensure that the equipment, ductwork, and connections function properly during the summer.

Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners circulate cool air through a system of supply and return ducts. Supply ducts and registers (i.e., openings in the walls, floors, or ceilings covered by grills) carry cooled air from the air conditioner to the home. This cooled air becomes warmer as it circulates through the home; then it flows back to the central air conditioner through return ducts and registers.

Ductless A/C

Ductless mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps work the in the same way as central air conditioners, the difference being the lack of ducts. The systems work by transferring differences in temperature between the inside and outside of a home. The main advantages of mini split air conditioners and heat pumps are their small size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms.

Room Air Conditioners

Room air conditioners, sometimes referred to as window air conditioners, cool rooms rather than the entire home or business. If they provide cooling only where they’re needed, room air conditioners are less expensive to operate than central units, even though their efficiency is generally lower than that of central air conditioners.

Swamp Coolers

In low-humidity areas, evaporating water into the air provides a natural and energy-efficient means of cooling. Evaporative coolers, also called “swamp” coolers, rely on this principal, cooling outdoor air by passing it over water-saturated pads, causing the water to evaporate into it. The 15°–40°F cooler air is then directed into the home, and pushes warmer air out through windows.

Heating Efficiency

If you currently own a forced-air heating system, you may wish to add central air conditioning (if you don’t have it already) or switch to a heat pump system. Adding central air conditioning is fairly simple, but be sure your contractor matches the system to your existing duct work.

Heat Pumps

For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Like your refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space into a warm, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house; during the cooling season, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide up to 4 times the amount of energy they consume.

Radiant Floor Heat

There are three types of radiant floor heat: radiant air floors (air is the heat-carrying medium); electric radiant floors; and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors. All three types can be further subdivided by the type of installation: those that make use of the large thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or lightweight concrete over a wooden subfloor (these are called “wet installations”); and those in which the installer “sandwiches” the radiant floor tubing between two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing under the finished floor or subfloor (“dry installations”).

Programmable Thermostats

You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, you don’t operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house is not occupied.

Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR® label.

Electric Heating

Electric resistance heating converts nearly 100% of the energy in the electricity to heat. However, most electricity is produced from oil, gas, or coal generators that convert only about 30% of the fuel’s energy into electricity. Because of electricity generation and transmission losses, electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in the home or business using combustion appliances, such as natural gas, propane, and oil furnaces.