Smart Spending

Making Sure Your Air Conditioner Is Ready For the Dog Days of Summer

When the days are really hot, everyone appreciates getting away from the heat and enjoying the cooler air in an air-conditioned home. Even better, though, is when your air conditioner is working well and you are able to keep your electric bills low. It may be surprising to learn how more costly it will be if your AC is not working right.

Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit

By cleaning your air conditioning unit each year, you can help it to operate more efficiently – which will mean more monetary savings for you. If your unit is used a lot during the summer months, like it would be if you live in the South, then it probably needs to be cleaned annually.

Before you do anything to fix air conditioner, though, be sure you cut off the power to the unit first. Then, open the unit so you can work inside. You may need to lift the fan off the unit, and then cover it with plastic so you don’t get water in the electrical parts. The Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) says that the condenser coils could be loaded with pollen and dust even if you can’t see it.

You can clean the coils with a coil brush, or by putting a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. Use this on the outside of the coils, and be careful not to bend the fins, which are delicate. Run water through the coils by spraying the water from the inside through the coils to the outside. This will ensure that any dirt in them is removed from the system, says

Make Sure the Unit Is Free From Shrubs

Then, remove any leaves or other debris that may have accumulated around the unit. This includes shrubs, if they are too close, which will make the unit run longer than necessary. Plants and other objects should be kept at least three feet away.

Replace Your Indoor Filter

Your indoor filter needs to be replaced often. These filters collect a lot of dust from inside the house and when they start to get clogged with it, your AC will have to start working harder to move the air through it. Fix AC filters by either washing or replacing them, says It is important to keep a clean filter in place, one that fits well, which will also help to keep other components clean.

Check Your Duct Work

According to, the average house loses about 20 percent of its heated and cooled air through leaks in the duct system. Leaks may also occur under the house or in the attic if it goes through it. Your AC unit can be more energy saving and will not need to run nearly as long if the ducts are properly sealed and insulated.

Have Your Unit Tested and Prepared

If your AC unit does not have enough pressure in it, it will have to run a lot longer in order to cool your home. A serviceperson can come by and make sure that it has the correct pressure. If they should find any leaks, they will also seal them so that it should be able to run problem-free the rest of the summer.

Check Your Thermostat and Turn It On

After the unit is cleaned thoroughly, turn the power back on. Now is when you test it to make sure it is going to work. Turn on the AC and turn the thermostat down to a lower temperature. It should turn on in a few seconds. Once it is working well, make sure it is cooling like it is supposed to.

If you are using a programmable thermostat you can set your air conditioner to cool the house differently at night or on weekends – depending on when you are there. This will help you save money and enable your unit to last longer.