Preparing for the Heat: Your HVAC Summer Checklist
Ah summer. The picnics, the lemonade, the barbeques—and the high energy bills. It may seem idyllic now, but in just a few short weeks, you’ll be peeling yourself off car seats and working the dial on your thermostat so hard it’s a wonder you don’t give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome.
Electricity consumption spikes during the summer and winter—the Energy Information Association says peak use for these parts of the year sometimes reaches 67 billion kilowatt hours a month! If you have an older, inefficient or poorly maintained air conditioner, it’s not helping matters. A unit rated at 10 SEER could cost you 20 to 40 percent more to operate than today’s higher performance models. Meanwhile, lapses in maintenance—even something as small as forgetting to change the filters—can cause noticeable fluctuations inside your HVAC unit and ducts, or even a total system failure.
The good news is that with a little upkeep, most units will be quietly humming away all summer. Follow these tips for no-sweat air conditioner maintenance.
No, Really—Change Your Filters
It’s not just a scam perpetrated by AC manufacturers. Dirty filters really do lower AC performance. Here’s what happens when you don’t change them: the blocked filter leads to a system pressure drop, and then, as a consequence, you can compromise the unit’s airflow so your air conditioner doesn’t work as well. That sets off a chain reaction. Your system will work harder to reach the settings on the thermostat, at the expense of its internal components. That means parts will wear out faster—and consume more energy to cool your home—and you’ll feel the effects your pocketbook. Plan on changing the filters once every 90 days, or more frequently if you have pets in your home. Because who wants to go without air conditioning in the summer?
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