When it comes to air conditioning, many people have no idea how it works. They only care that it DOES work! Heating a home is relatively easy, air conditioning is not. People typically express their frustration with air conditioning by saying “it is just too small”. Although that can be the case, it usually is not. Do I have your attention? Let’s start with what’s what. Click here for a video walk-through of an air conditioning system, to view the parts you need to know. If you do prefer to read about it, let’s continue on—
This is not going to be a techy article, nor is it going to be a lesson in engineering. It is going to walk you through the steps on how best to use your air conditioner and what you can do to help it perform to the best of its ability. The goal is that by the time you have digested this information you will be having a love affair with your air conditioning system! Cool, right?
Let’ start with what is outside. The big box on the side of your home is the condenser. It houses the compressor. What do you need to know about this area? Well the compressor is the most expensive component in the air conditioning system, so it is important to treat it well. One way for you to do that is to make sure that the condenser has at least 2 feet of space all around it and 4 feet above it in order to move air. The condenser needs to expel the heat from your home, so it is important to make sure that it is not crowded by plants, shrubs, etc. Go out today and look at the condenser. Is it level? Look inside from the top, do you see leaves and debris inside? If so, then protect your investment and guarantee that you will be cool this summer by booking to have the system maintained by your favorite heating and air conditioning service provider, (did I hear you say, Horizon Mechanical).
Next, let’s go inside your home. Do you know what a return air grille is? In most homes it is the vent that is located in the wall. It can be low on the wall or high. The most important thing you can do to help the air system in your home to perform well is to make sure that there is clear access to the return air vents. If the return air grille is blocked by a couch, hutch, dresser or some other piece of solid furniture, it cannot draw the warm air from your home into the duct system cool it and deliver it through the supply vents. The return air grilles are very important. Some homeowners try and manipulate the system to make it draw more air through a return air grille(s) on the second level of their home. They try and do this by blocking a return on the main floor. Please, don’t do this. It is hard enough to get the volume of air needed to go through the duct system. This type of manipulation often causes more harm than good.
Supply vents can usually be found in the floor. A supply air vent typically has louvers and you can adjust the opening and direction. The direction of the air should be straight up the wall. The cool air blowing through the vent is designed to bathe the outside wall and window with cool air. It absorbs the warm air coming in. It creates a protective barrier, reduces heat gain and keeps you comfortable. Air conditioning systems need maximum air flow. Keep all supply vents open, even in rooms that you don’t use often. It is also recommended to keep the doors open to all the rooms. If you have a powder room or laundry room that is getting too much cool air you can damper down the supply vent, not close it.
If you already read this newsletter monthly, then you have learned about the importance of changing the filter. Filters should be replaced in the spring and then once-a-month during the air conditioning season. A dirty filter wreaks havoc on an air conditioning system. If you would like a tutorial on filters, how to change them, what type to use, etc., please go to our YouTube video channel. You will find our step-by-step information there. The important knowledge to take away from the information about return air grilles, supply vents and the filter is the understanding that the goal is to help the system to move as much air as possible.
Now, since we have gone over the mechanics of the system and talked about the duct system, let’s move on to “how-to” use your air conditioner. An air conditioner is designed to avoid heat gain, not extract it. That means for an air conditioner to be used as designed by the engineers, you need to turn it on during the day. Don’t wait until you get home from work or until you “feel” hot, to turn the system on. By then it is too late. It takes hours and hours to remove heat from everything in your home. Imagine the thermostat reads 84 degrees indoors. That means every piece of furniture, article of clothing, all the dishes, the walls, the beds, the books, every single item in your home is holding that heat. Now you turn on the air conditioner and you want it to instantly bring the temperature down. It can’t do that! The way to use your air conditioner is to program the thermostat and let it do its job.
Many thermostats offer a 4-times-a-day for programming to monitor time and temperature. Think about and write down the schedule you want to program before heading to the thermostat. Once you have a plan it is easier to concentrate on how to program the thermostat. Here is an idea for a program.
Temperature: 75 (Personally, my preference is that the a/c doesn’t run when I am showering)
Leave: 10am (I select this time as this is when the sun starts to warm up in the summer)
Temperature 72 (If you don’t know what temperature you are comfortable with, select a temperature and then if you are cold raise it one degree and try that for a day. If that is not comfortable, then move it up one more degree the next day. You will find your comfort number doing it this way)
Temperature: 72 (If you would rather open the windows at night, program to 78 degrees and the system won’t turn on unless it is really warm that night)
If you are programing a workday schedule, you can raise the temperature approximately 4-5 degrees while you are at work. The benchmark is 8 hours. If you are going to be away from the house 8 hours or longer, it is ok to raise the temperature. If you are not going to be away for 8+ hours, it is better to leave the temperature consistent.
If you have questions regarding the use of your air conditioner, please call us at 303-346-3466.
It is our pleasure to assist you. We want you to be cool and comfortable this summer.