Know Your AC System
Whether it’s people, appliances, or air conditioning (AC) systems, the better you know them, the better you are able to care for them. Our team at Design Air knows air conditioners because it’s our business. We want to share just a little of our knowledge with you so you can extend the life of your air conditioner, avoid costly repairs, and save energy and money in Missoula.
Many people believe air conditioners cool down the hot air in their homes in order to lower temperatures. However, air conditioners really move the heat from your home back outside, which results in cooler temperatures inside.
An air conditioner has a compressor and condenser, which are usually found outside, and an evaporator that sits inside your home. Refrigerant runs through the system as air circulates. Heat is absorbed from the air and discharged outside as the refrigerant expands and contracts.
All of these components must stay in good working order for your air conditioner to work effectively in Montana. One way you can ensure good performance is by having a professional inspect, clean, and perform maintenance on your system once a year, ideally in the spring before you first turn on your air conditioner.
Once the heat has been removed from the air, it must travel through your air duct system in order to reach each living space. As it moves through the ducts, it can easily heat back up again, especially if you have leaks or require better insulation around your ductwork.
How You Can Help
Although some parts of your air conditioning system should be maintained by a professional, there are many things you can do on your own as well.
First, understand that a big part of air conditioning efficiency has to do with good air circulation. That means anything blocking your airflow will make your unit work harder, which can shorten the life of your system as well as waste energy.
Every spring, before your air conditioner needs to run every day, clear away the yard debris around the outside part of your unit. Be sure no sticks, leaves, or other items are blocking the air conditioner’s ability to circulate air.
You should change your air filter inside your home regularly. According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), you can save 5 to 15 percent of your energy consumption simply by using clean air filters.
Finally, check around your vents and ducts to be sure nothing is blocking the airflow inside your home.
Brush up on your knowledge about both installation and operating costs of your air conditioning system. For example, take a look at the wattage of your air conditioning system and look at your utility bill to find the cost per watt. A typical central air conditioning system might use about 3,500 watts. Using the national average cost of 13.2 cents per kilowatt hour, it would cost you about $3.70 per day to run your system.
Armed with that figure, you can decide if being sure you adjust your thermostat before you leave, running floor fans for the day, or hanging out your laundry is worth the savings.
In the long-run, you can consider the cost of a new, more efficient air conditioning system, factor in the money you are spending on repairs, and decide when is an optimal time to invest in a new air conditioner. You can also call and speak to one of our knowledgeable and highly trained HVAC professionals. We can help you assess the best thing to do.