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Energy Efficiency

Everyday Things That Decrease Your AC Efficiency

The mild winters and hot summers in Murrieta, CA, cause you to rely on your air conditioning system for indoor comfort. With daytime high temperatures averaging more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months of the year, your air conditioner will cycle a lot in order to keep your home cool. If you’ve noticed that your electricity bills are creeping up without having changed your thermostat, reduced AC efficiency could be to blame. Discover 10 everyday things that decrease your AC’s efficiency.

1. Dirty Air Filters

Dirty air filters are a top cause of decreased AC efficiency. Air filters lower your air conditioner’s energy efficiency by as much as 15%. When the filter’s pores are filled with dust and debris, the cooled air can’t pass through them. The lower airflow causes the air conditioner to cycle more frequently in order to reach the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat. Those extra cycles increase your utility bills and wear and tear on the AC system. Check the filter monthly, and replace it at least every three months.

2. Overgrown Grass, Shrubs, and Trees

The outdoor unit of your Murrieta home’s cooling system needs at least three feet of clearance around and above it. This clearance is required so that heat from your home can be released to the outdoors. If you have overgrown grass, trees, or shrubs, the system can’t effectively release the heat. Keep all of this vegetation mowed or pruned away from the outdoor unit. Remove any fallen tree branches or other debris.

3. Poor Furniture Placement

Each room of your home has at least one supply and one return vent that connects to your air conditioner’s air handler. If these vents are blocked by furniture, the cooled air can’t get into the room. The warm air that’s risen close to the ceiling could be blocked by tall shelves or wall-mounted TVs. Keep furniture and wall-mounted shelves and TVs at least three feet away from air vents.

4. Clutter

Clutter is another big cause of decreased AC efficiency. Chances are good that you have some boxes or bins of stuff close to the indoor part of your air conditioning system. The indoor unit needs much clearance for airflow as the outdoor unit. Piles of papers, books, or other items near the supply and return vents in the rooms of your home also hinder airflow and lower the air conditioner’s efficiency. Consider removing clutter, and keep stored items at least three feet away from vents and your air conditioner’s indoor unit.

5. Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight causes your AC to lose efficiency in many ways. Allowing direct sunlight to penetrate your rooms causes the indoor temperature to increase. This makes the AC cycle more frequently. Direct sunlight shining onto the thermostat will trigger the device to turn your AC on more often.

If the AC’s outdoor unit is exposed to direct sunlight, it will get hot. This reduces its ability to release the heat that it transfers out of your home. During the daytime, keep curtains, shades or blinds closed. Locate your thermostat on an interior wall, such as in a hallway. Erect a fence or locate the AC’s outdoor unit in a place that provides shade from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., which is when the sun’s activity is the most intense.

6. Use of the Oven

Cooking at home saves you a lot of money and allows you to enjoy tasty and nutritious meals. However, using your oven on a hot day increases your AC’s workload. If you need to cook in the oven or on the burners, try to do so as early in the morning as possible. Alternatively, use a slow cooker, toaster oven, or microwave to prepare meals. Grilling outdoors or eating chilled foods that don’t require cooking are also good options for days with hot weather.

7. Lack of AC Maintenance

A lack of air conditioner maintenance is a guaranteed way to lower its efficiency. At We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air, we recommend an annual springtime tune-up for your Murrieta air conditioning system. If you forgot to schedule AC maintenance in the spring, it’s never too late to have it done.

AC tune-ups include a thorough system cleaning and lubrication of all moving parts. The system’s efficiency and performance are tested. Our NATE-certified technicians also examine the system for signs of wear and tear, refrigerant leaks, or other problems that could lower its efficiency.

8. Open Doors and Windows

Opening your doors and windows is an easy way to bring fresh air into your home. You might do this in the early morning or late evening in order to improve airflow. You may also open your doors when cooking or cleaning so that you can let the odors out.

However, leaving your windows or doors open while the air conditioner is running will lower its efficiency. The cooled air will leak out of your home. This makes the air conditioner cycle more often and contributes to unnecessary wear and tear on the motor and fan. Keep your home’s doors and windows shut while the AC is running. Consider replacing old caulk, weatherstripping, and insulation that allows the cooled air to diffuse to the outdoors.

9. Dirty Air Ducts and Vents

Dirty air ducts and vents hinder the flow of cooled air to your living spaces. Every one to three years, schedule professional duct cleaning. This process makes use of powerful vacuums that remove dust and other particles from the vents. It’s also a good idea to have the ducts inspected once per year. The vibration of air flowing through the ducts can loosen connections. Seals may wear out over time, causing the cooled air to leak out before it reaches the rooms of your home.

Dirty vents and vent covers are also a problem. You can maintain them yourself by removing the covers once per month. Before doing this, turn your AC off. Use your vacuum’s extension hose to remove dust from the covers and vent openings. Clean the vent covers with a solution of warm, soapy water. Dry the covers and reattach them. Once you’re finished, turn the AC on again.

10. Incandescent Light Bulbs

If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, you’re decreasing your AC’s efficiency. Incandescent light bulbs are convenient because they come in a range of lumen levels. They’re also inexpensive, compatible with almost every type of light fixture and easy to install and replace. However, they generate a lot of heat and wear out quickly. That heat increases the temperature of your home. LED bulbs have a lifespan that is 10 to 20 times longer than a typical incandescent light bulb. They generate minimal heat when lit. They cost about five times more than an incandescent bulb, but they’re a smart investment.

At We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air, we’re the trusted source for heating and cooling maintenance, repair, replacement, and installation services in Murrieta. Our skilled technicians and plumbers also provide dependable plumbing, indoor air quality, and comfort solutions. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us today.

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