Get the Facts!
Air conditioning is a much-needed household utility in many areas of the country. But although it is so common, there are still myths floating around about how to get the most out of your unit. Here we’ll address some of these common myths and get to the bottom of what works and what doesn’t in terms of keeping your air conditioning unit running at its best.
Myth 1: It’s more efficient to keep your unit running all the time than to turn it on and off.
Many people believe that leaving an air conditioning unit running all day and maintaining a consistent temperature requires less energy to cool a home than turning it on and off. We hear this about idling a car (vs. turning it off and restarting it) and also about keeping the heat on day and night within our homes. But in the case of an air conditioning unit that recycles warm air into cool air, there’s no need to keep recycling air that has already cooled. Therefore, turning off your air conditioning when you’re not home will consume less power than when it is operating on high for short intervals. Air conditioning units are more efficient when they are running full speed for a short amount of time vs. a lower speed for lengthy periods.
TIP: To increase efficiency without using power, consider replacing or supplementing the insulation in your home, or investing in heavy drapes and better windows to keep out the heat.
Myth 2: To cool air faster, set a lower temperature on your air conditioning unit.
Conventional units are only able to turn a compressor on or off. This means that regardless of what temperature you set it for, the air conditioning runs at the same speed. This means that it will run for longer to reach that temperature, but it will not cool air faster. If you want to cool air faster, try running a fan that blows warmer air out of a room. Turn on any ceiling fans and portable fans, and open doors to help air move about and redistribute throughout your home faster. Work on creating cross-breezes that move air quickly from one area of the home to another.
Fans redistribute air and help to cool you down by creating a draft that makes you feel cooler. But the actual temperature of the air does not change. In short: fans cool air, not people. So don’t waste money running a fan in an empty room.
Myth 3: The location of your air conditioning unit doesn’t affect its performance.
Surprisingly, it actually does make a difference where your air conditioner is stationed. Placing your thermostat in a warm area of the home or near lights or appliances can give off a false reading as to the temperature of the home, making your air conditioner work in overdrive to cool the house. It can also make a difference where in the home your unit is kept in relation to the sun. If your air conditioning unit is installed on the south or west side of the house, sunlight may warm your unit’s outdoor heat exchanger and negatively affect performance.
Are any of these myths causing your unit to lose efficiency and hiking the cost of your electric bill higher than it needs to be? Take some time to evaluate the use of your air conditioning unit and ensure that you are getting the most out of this important utility and conserving its longevity. In turn, this can help you keep your household comfortable during the warmer seasons for years to come.
For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.
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