Top to Bottom Cooling: Using Your Whole House for Efficient Air Conditioning

Top to Bottom Cooling: Using Your Whole House for Efficient Air Conditioning
  • Opening Intro -

    We all know that the old AC should get a good tuneup now and then, but what else can you do inside and out to help your home’s HVAC operate more efficiently and effectively?

    Here are some ideas you might not have thought of.

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Get An Energy Audit Done

An energy audit is something every homeowner should do at least once. Your local utility company, or trusted and insured technicians, can do one for you. Basically, a tech will come out to the home and mount a massive fan system in your entryway. The fan is powerful enough to cause a measurable pressure drop inside the house.

Once this happens, indoor pressure is monitored and pressure changes tell the auditor whether you have leaks (most homes do), and where they are. Smoke sticks are also used to confirm infiltration points.
Once the audit is done, the auditor will give you a printout – a report that tells you what you can do to seal up the home and make it more energy efficient. This might be all you need to get more out of your air conditioner.

Clean The Condenser Unit

When the condenser unit itself is dirty, it will cause problems. Before cleaning it, disable the power to the condenser through the service panel and weather disconnect box. Wait one-half hour after disconnecting so that any residual electric charges in the capacitor can dissipate. If you don’t, you could electrocute yourself.

Put on gloves and remove any debris you find. Scrub the condenser coils with a refrigerator brush and don’t bend the fins.

Lube up any moving parts and replace the coolant line insulation if it’s damaged. You’re done. That should make a dramatic difference in the operation of the AC if it was dirty.

Sour The Condenser Lines

The condenser lines are responsible for carrying moisture from the evaporator coils into a drainage area. Without this, your AC doesn’t function properly. Sometimes, they get clogged, and you have to go in with a shop vac or a plumbing snake and clean them out.

A weak bleach or vinegar solution should be sufficient to clean the lines.

Change The Air Conditioning Filter

This is probably the simplest thing you can do. The AC filter should be replaced every month that you use it. Dust collects in the filter, so changing it reduces dust recirculation and reduces stress on the system.

Buy A Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are all the rage these days, and there’s a reason for that: they help reduce energy costs. By installing a programmable ‘stat, you can change your energy usage pattern, create a geofence that triggers either “away mode” or “home mode” and some thermostats have a learning algorithm that figures out (over time) how best to optimize energy usage for you.

These devices sometimes come with wi-fi access so that you can manually control the thermostat from any room in the home. And, the higher-end devices are equipped with voice command and control options, so you can speak commands to the thermostat, and it obeys.

Anne Banks is an HVAC contractor. She likes to write about the field online. Her posts are available on many home improvement and DIY sites.

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Categories: Heating and Cooling

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