The air conditioning unit in your house is one of those things that you may only notice when it stops working. In order to keep from reaching this sort of impasse, or at least making it less likely to happen, you need to perform regular maintenance to make sure the internal parts are clean and in good working condition. The most basic maintenance you can perform is cleaning or replacing your air filter, and here we will cover several ways to do this, depending on the layout of your cooling system. With proper maintenance of your air filter, you will be able to save yourself a considerable amount of money and time spent sweltering in your uncooled home because you need to call in a repair service to fix it. (For window units, skip the following three steps and see the end of the article.)
1. Find out where the air filter is in your residence and remove it. Some may be located behind the main vent that lets out cool air into your house, in which case you may need to pull back a set of fasteners to remove the filter from its housing. This vent is usually located by the thermostat. In other cases, the filter may be located in a slot in your furnace. Before removing the filter, make sure to turn the unit off for safety’s sake. Furnace units that use larger media filters will have them behind a filter cap, a metal or plastic housing that can snap off by hand. Once you have found the filter, making sure no air is going to pass through the system while you work, remove it.
2. Identify your filter type. For all but the window unit, you will need to determine the type of filter and its dimensions before you buy a replacement.
A fiberglass filter resembles a window screen with a larger frame. This is an older type of filter and needs to be replaced at least once a month.
A pleated filter is rectangular and about an inch wide. It should be replaced at least every 90 days, but HVAC experts recommend 45 days.
A media filter resembles a pleated filter, but is about four times as wide. It should be replaced every 6 to 8 months, but in some cases can last up to a year.
3. Install the filter. Once you have the correct unit for your air conditioner, slide it into place. There should be an arrow telling you which side to put it in first, and it is important that you follow this as the filters are designed to work this way. Put the filter cap back on or refasten the grate. It is now safe to have air flowing again.
For window units, the filter will be found directly behind the place where the cool air comes out. Window air filters only need to be replaced about once a year, but they should be cleaned monthly, depending on how often you use the air conditioner.
Turn off the unit and locate the filter. Take it outside and gently but firmly knock it against a flat surface, which should release a good deal of collected dust. Take the damp cloth to the filter and lightly wipe it down. Allow it to air dry or dry it with a towel, as placing a wet item into any kind of electrical system is a bad idea. Put the filter back into your wall unit. It is now safe to use again.
Top 10 Ways to Save on Your Cooling Costs
The sun is beating down, turning your home into an oven and it’s time to crank up the air conditioning. Everyone knows that once it comes on, it doesn’t go off until temperatures drop again, so how can you save on those dreaded cooling costs? It seems that the bills go through the roof once that A/C comes on, but there are ways to keep costs down.
Seal Up Your House
Windows and doors are the biggest wastes of energy in both the summer and winter. Cracks under doors and ill-fitting windows can suck that cold air out of your house, causing the A/C to kick on more often. Don’t forget to seal your attic door if you have one as well.
Decrease Sun Exposure
Your house heats up fast because of sunlight streaming in through the windows. Plant trees outside the home to help block the sun and use dark heavy curtains to keep the inside as cool as possible. There are also window coverings designed to keep sunlight out.
Increase Temperature at Night
You don’t have to be absolutely chilled when you’re sleeping. Instead, bump the temperature to a comfortable 78 or 80 and keep the A/C from running when you don’t need it.
Increase Temperature Period
If you really want to save money, then don’t wait for when you’re out of the house or sleeping. If you’ve set the temperature for 70, then bump it up to 73 and you’ll save money over the long run and it is still comfortable.
Use a Fan
Fans are a great way to circulate the air in the house and keep the air moving. This not only helps keep the house cool, but also creates evaporational cooling. The moving air helps to evaporate sweat from your skin and keep you cooler. Use this in conjunction with your A/C or save even bigger money by using fans instead of A/C.
Use Your Finished Basement
Basements are generally below ground level and are several degrees cooler than the main house. Many finished basements have all the comforts of home, so spend some time down there and keep the A/C off.
Don’t Use the Demon Stove
I hate hate hate hate cooking during the summer. That oven cranks up the degrees in the house and the A/C never turns off when that casserole’s in the oven. Instead, grab some steaks and burgers and go cook out on the grill. Keep as much cooking out of the house as possible.
Get a High Efficiency A/C
Older air conditioning systems will hike up the costs because they use more energy than newer high efficiency models. While the upfront cost of a new A/C system is high, over the length of its life’s you’ll save money. Also, keep your A/C efficient by regular yearly checkups. Many HVAC companies offer special deals in spring to provide maintenance upkeep for you’re A/C.
Cool Yourself With Water
Cool water will help naturally cool your body, so you can stand those higher temperatures you set for the A/C. There are many products available such as small fans that spray water on you. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then try a nice cool bath or shower to cool you off for a while.
If you want to save tons of money on A/C, then keep it turned off and stay out of the house as much as possible. It’s summer, so enjoy local festivals and events, go swimming, take a vacation and many other diversions. You can even just sit out in the shaded patio with a glass of lemonade and listen to the junebugs.