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Air conditioner tips to stay cool and save money this summer

5/23/2018 11:15:03 AM

The summer heat is on its way, and the Minnesota Commerce Department has air conditioner tips to help you keep your home cool while also saving money.

The Commerce Department's Home Energy Guide /commerce/home-energy/hvac/index.jspfeatures a Heating and Cooling section that explains how air conditioning (AC) systems work, the importance of maintaining those systems, and the energy- and cost-saving benefits of high-efficiency AC units. It also offers a range of ideas to reduce heat and humidity in your home, which will lower the energy demand on your AC system.

The complete Home Energy Guide (.pdf) is available on the Commerce Department website (mn.gov/commerce).

Here are some key tips to stay cool and save energy with your AC this summer:

AC maintenance and repair

AC systems should be inspected annually. Schedule an inspection as soon as possible before intense heat and humidity arrive.

Proper maintenance will improve your AC's safety and performance, reduce energy use and electricity costs, and prolong the life of your system. 

A typical central AC system inspection should include checking voltage and belt condition, washing condensing unit coils, checking the drain line and confirming proper airflow.

What you can do

Between annual checkups, homeowners can do several things to keep AC systems operating efficiently and safely.

One essential maintenance task is to routinely replace or clean AC filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency. 

Central AC filters are usually located in the return duct near the furnace or air handler, while room air conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room. Ductless or high-velocity systems also have filters that need cleaning or replacing on a regular basis.

Some filters may require more frequent attention if the AC is in constant use, operating in dusty conditions or there are fur-shedding pets in the house.

Other do-it-yourself AC maintenance tips include:

  • Keep the area around the outside unit free of foliage or anything that can block airflow.
  • Make sure the coils of the outside unit don't get clogged with leaves, dust or other debris. This can affect AC efficiency. Clear the coils by spraying with a water hose.For window units, keep filters clean, make sure drain lines are clear and away from siding, and check for proper sealing between the window and the unit.
  • Check with your utility for cooling tips and ways to save on your electric bill. Some utilities offer energy-saver programs with lower rates for off-peak use of air conditioners. Many utilities also offer rebates for installing new high-efficiency AC systems.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Division of Energy Resources. Contact the Commerce Department's Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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