Hot and humid, really Summer is the worst weather to endure. It's even worse, when you turn to your air conditioner to get rid of the heat, only to find out it's not getting cold. Or maybe it does cool, but you're worried that the energy bill gets a big hit.
But do not worry! We will guide you through several common air conditioning errors that you could be making in your home. Solving these problems will result in faster cooling, more comfort, less wasted energy and cheaper bills.
First mistake: using an incorrect sized air conditioner
The worst mistake you can make occurs even before turning on your device for the first time. All window air conditioners are designed with a particular amount of "air space" in mind. And your unit will not be effective if your room is too large or too small for the device.
All air conditioning units have a British thermal unit (BTU) rating, typically in the range of 5,000 to 15,000.
The general rule is that each square foot of room space needs 20 BTU. More 600 BTU for each person who regularly occupies the room. You may need to increase it by up to an additional 10% if the room has high ceilings, receives lots of sunlight, etc.
And don't buy a device that is too big either. A large air conditioner will pump a large amount of cold air but will not remain on long enough to dehumidify the room.
Persistent moisture will make the room feel more humid and dry than it really should be.
Second mistake: open your doors and windows
Here is a quick summary of how the air conditioner works: the unit extracts hot air from the room; warm air passes over a refrigerant that absorbs heat. Thus, the now cooled air is returned to the room while the absorbed heat is expelled from the back of the device.
This is the reason why the air conditioning units must be mounted in a window channeled outwards. And why these central central units are outside the house.
The "indoor air" and the "outdoor air" must be isolated from each other for the air conditioner to work. If your windows or doors are open, the heat that is expelled will re-enter.
Third mistake: keep the air conditioner on all the time
Let's say you go to work at 8 am. and you come home at 5 pm. Your ideal home temperature is 22ºC. Is it more energy efficient (i.e. economical) to leave your unit on at 22 ° C throughout the day? Or should you turn it off when you go out and turn it on again when you come back?
Most people think that the first method is better, but in reality the second uses less energy. And the savings can be quite substantial. So, the hotter it is outside, the more you will save using the second method.
Fourth error: set the temperature too low
Upon arriving home after a long day at work, you enter it only to be hit by a thick wall of rancid air at 32 ° C. Then what do you do? You can lower the air to 18 ° C to cool the room faster.
But this is not how the air conditioning works.
Whether your room is 21ºC or 32ºC, the device pumps the same "force" of cold air. The temperature setting only tells the air conditioner when to stop pumping cold air. Changing the temperature setting from 21 to 18ºC will not accelerate anything.
It is actually worse, because the air conditioner will continue to function even after it reaches its ideal temperature. For example, if your ideal temperature is 22 ° C and you set the unit to 18 ° C, it will continue until the room reaches 18 ° C. Time when you are now too cold and you have wasted a lot of energy unnecessarily.
Therefore, set your air conditioner to its ideal temperature and let it do the job. If you are tired of returning to a hot and humid house, consider buying a smart or programmable thermostat.
Fifth mistake: leaving the rooms and vents open
If you have a window unit
Do you remember how window units are designed with a certain amount of airspace in mind? That space assumes that the doors are closed.
For example, your room may be 150 square feet, but if you leave the door open while the unit is running, cold air will escape and hot air will enter. In effect, the device is trying to cool the air in your room and out of it.
To maximize efficiency, you must keep the doors closed in any room where you have a working window device. This will limit the amount of air that should be cooled only to that room, and will also accelerate how quickly that air cools.
If you have a central unit
You probably have vents located in every room of your house. If all your vents are open, then the central unit is trying to cool each of those rooms.
The more air space needs to be cooled, the longer it will take to cool all that space. This also means that your unit should remain on for longer, which translates into wasted energy and more expensive bills.
When closing the vents, cut the rooms of the central unit and reduce the total amount of air to be cooled. This accelerates the cooling of the areas where the vents are open. (You must also keep the doors of these spaces closed).
Sixth error: do not circulate the air with a fan
Most people use a fan when the weather is hot and they switch to the air conditioner when it's really hot. But fans and air conditioners should not look like one or the other; In fact, air conditioners work best when combined with fans. Especially automated ceiling fans.
Thus, cold air accumulates where it is expelled. For window air conditioning units, this means that the area just in front of the unit is the coolest. Now, for the central devices, the coldest areas are around the vents.
In the same way, to cool the rest of your air space, you must wait for the thermal transfer, which is painfully slow, or you can force the circulation of the cooled air with a fan.
Imagine a drop of blue dye in a glass of water. If you wait, it could be hours before the color seeps through all the water. But if you shake it, the color goes everywhere in a matter of seconds.
In addition, air circulation helps your sweat evaporate faster, and this has a cooling effect on the skin. Which means you can set your air conditioner to a higher temperature while feeling equally comfortable. This trick can reduce significant amounts of your energy bill on hot days.
Seventh error: do not change the air conditioner filter
No matter how clean your room is, there are always particles floating in the air that are absorbed by this device while it is working. So to prevent these particles from causing internal problems, all units have particle filters.
A clean filter is crucial for optimal efficiency. In this sense, the accumulation of particles reduces the air flow, forcing the unit to work harder to extract the same amount of air.
In the worst case, a dirty filter can increase your energy bill by up to 15%, not to mention that you will have a greater chance of maintenance problems.
If your air conditioner is on all day and every day, change the filter at least once a month. If you use it less frequently, change the filter once every three months.
Some window units have removable filters that you can clean and rinse. Otherwise, you should buy replacement filters as needed.
Eighth error: Forget about cleaning between stations
Regular operation of an air conditioner generates condensation inside. This is normal behavior, and well-designed units have ways to get rid of that condensation before it causes problems. That's why you see window devices dripping all the time.
Normally, condensation drains and drips on its own and you don't have to worry about it. But if something goes wrong and condensation does not occur, mold and bacteria could grow inside your unit.
And since these devices work by blowing cold air into the room, mold and bacteria can easily get into the air. This could lead to health problems such as asthma, pneumonia, black mold invasion and even legionnaire's disease.
And that is why it is important to clean and repair your air conditioning units at the beginning of each season other than the summer.
Ninth error: postpone air conditioning maintenance
Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your device. Likewise, maintenance will keep your machine running in the best way. Which translates into faster and more efficient cooling while minimizing energy use.
But if you can't afford the unit's annual checkups, at least avoid postponing when something goes wrong. If you hear something strange, such as a squeak or internal drip, have it checked. And indeed, if something stinks, have it checked. And if you see unusual black growths or fluid leaks, have it checked!
Prevention is better than cure, and solving the problem early is often cheaper than replacing the entire unit when it breaks down.
Tenth error: ignore heat sources
Anything you can do to reduce the heat in your room, apartment or house will greatly contribute to making your air conditioning unit more effective and efficient.
- Replace single panel windows with double pane windows.
- Seal any cracks that may have heat leaks around the windows.
- Cover the sunlit windows with thick light colored curtains. Keep them closed during the hottest hours of the day.
- If possible, add insulation to the sun-oriented walls.
- Avoid using the CPU of your computer or laptop disproportionately.
- Avoid using heat generating devices, such as washers and dryers.
- Limit the time you spend cooking on the stove or in the oven. To reheat, use the microwave.
- Run your wrists through cold water every time you feel hot.
Eleventh mistake: expect too much from your air conditioner
At the end of the day, air conditioning units are not magic bullets. Even if you follow all of the above recommendations perfectly, there may be days when you feel hot. Even if you have your device working properly.
On average, your unit can reduce its indoor temperature to approximately -9 ° C below the outdoor temperature. With a powerful and optimized configuration, you may be able to lower the temperature by -6 or -3 ° C. But if they do 43ºC outside, there is practically no possibility of your house going below 18ºC.
Other ways to stay cool during the summer
Computers and laptops generate more heat than you think. During the summer months, that heat can contribute to an increase in room temperature. If the heat cannot dissipate fast enough, it can also cause irreparable damage to all devices.
If you live in a house, we recommend that you buy an intelligent thermostat. Smart thermostats are designed to strike a balance between maximizing your comfort and minimizing energy use. They often pay for themselves within the first year.