Summer is around the corner and, in the Valley of the Sun, that means scorching temps and higher power bills. Luckily, homeowners have a few options to help them stay cool and comfortable all summer long.
Have Your A/C Serviced
The best thing you can do to increase the life of your A/C unit and ensure it works properly is to schedule regular, twice-yearly service. Your service tech checks refrigerant levels, the electrical components, motors, the evaporator coils and condenser, belts, and much more. These maintenance checks keep everything running smoothly and help uncover potential issues early, when they’re still easy (and cheap) to repair.
Replace Your Air Filter
Regularly replacing or cleaning your air filter is probably the single most important thing you can do to keep your air conditioner running efficiently. During the summer, you should replace your filter every month (an easy way to remember is to replace it whenever you pay your rent or mortgage). During the winter, when your HVAC system gets less use, you can change the filter every other month.
Repair Ductwork Leaks
Leaks in your ductwork system allow all that expensive cooled air to escape before it has the chance to cool your home. If your home has rooms that never seem to properly cool, or that feel stuffy, that’s a sign you have leaking ducts. One solution for leaking ductwork is Aeroseal, this product seals your ductwork from the inside. Other signs include increased energy bills without increased usage, faster dust buildup, and dirty ducts. Repairing leaking ductwork saves you hundreds of dollars on your power bills every year and ensures your A/C unit doesn’t work too hard.
Check and Repair Insulation
Insulation tends to compact over time, meaning it isn’t providing the same level of coverage. Isley’s checks insulation during service appointments, but if you don’t have your unit serviced, you need to check the insulation yourself. Look specifically at the areas surrounding the ductwork and pipes. If you add insulation, understand that it is an extremely messy job. You probably want to get a respirator, not just a face mask. Also, take care so that you don’t block the vents in your ventilation system.
Install Ceiling Fans
If you don’t have ceiling fans, consider installing them, especially in the living areas and bedrooms. You can easily add five degrees to your thermostat settings and still feel perfectly comfortable with a ceiling fan helping to distribute the cooled air.
If you reversed the flow of your ceiling fans during the winter, don’t forget to switch them back to counterclockwise for summer.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, get one. These do exactly what they sound like they do: allow you to program the thermostat for certain days and times. Features vary, but most allow you to, at a minimum, set the timer for specific time windows. For example, if your house is regularly empty from 7 AM until 5 PM, you can program the thermostat to lower the A/C starting at around 4:00 or 4:30. This ensures you walk into a comfortable home in the evening, without the expense of cooling an empty house all day.
Don’t Forget Your Windows
Your windows are both your home’s greatest weakness and its best opportunity for improving energy efficiency. Start by checking them for leaks (just like your mom used to say, there’s no sense in cooling the outdoors). Fix any drafts or gaps with a caulk gun and new weather stripping.
Next, look for ways to reduce the sun and heat pouring into your home through the windows. Options to help cool your home include:
• Reflective film
• Roller shades
• Sun blocking window screens
• Sunscreen fabric curtains
Don’t forget the area outside your windows. Awnings, trees, and shrubs go a long way toward keeping the sun outside where it belongs.
It’s about to get really hot here in the Valley. With a bit of preparation, though, you can keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long.