Failed air conditioning on a scorching day can turn summer bliss into a sweaty nightmare. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning expert Al Crutcher, a Major Maintenance Project Manager with Montgomery County’s Department of General Services (DGS), Division of Facilities Management gives us these do-it-at-home tips that may help lower your utility bill, save energy and avoid costly repairs.
Replace dirty clogged filters - dirty filters block airflow and reduce your system’s efficiency. When your cooling system is fighting to pull air through a dirty filter, it makes the system run longer and can increase energy use by five to 15 percent. Running the system with a dirty filter also puts a lot of stress on the entire system and can cause a costly repair. A typical filter only costs a few dollars while a new motor can run $600 - $1,200.
Evaluate the area around the thermostat to ensure it registers correctly. Keep lamps, televisions, or other heat sources away from the thermostat to ensure it reads the accurate room temperature.
Set your thermostat at 78 degrees for energy savings. A lower temperature won’t cool things faster and may result in unnecessary expense. A programmable thermostat allows you to keep your home warmer when you are away and cool it down before you return.
Professional service technicians should check and maintain your system each spring. A certified professional can check your cooling system to clean the coils; check for the correct amount of refrigerant and make sure none is leaking; seal duct leakage in central air conditioning systems; maintain motors, and make sure the thermostat is working properly. This will help ensure your system doesn’t break down on a hot day. Most air conditioning equipment warranties require annual professional maintenance.
Energy savings is good for the environment and for your wallet. According to PEPCO, properly installed high-efficiency heat pumps, furnaces and air conditioning units can help you save on heating and cooling costs year-round and provide more consistent temperatures and humidity control.
Condensers should be maintained to minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit and keep it clear of bushes to allow adequate airflow. Also take care when using lawn maintenance equipment close to the wires – you don’t want to accidentally cut one.
Turn off your air conditioner when you don’t need it. On days when temperatures are not sweltering, you may be able to stay comfortable by using ceiling fans or opening windows. This helps your wallet and saves energy.
More information about how DGS keeps our County’s 400-plus facilities comfortable and energy efficient are available here.
More home energy saving tips are available here.