5 Things You Should Never Do When You Have Central Air
Experts say these mistakes could be costing you both money and cooling.
Summer has started, and it's already bringing along extreme temperatures, as a serious heatwave rolls across the Southern U.S. Amid hot weather, having a central air conditioning system in your home can be a blessing unlike any other. But that's only if you know how to use it—and how not to use it. Talking to experts, we found out that there are some common mistakes that could be making this costly cooling option more expensive and less efficient. To avoid these consequences while you're trying to stay cool, read on to find out more about the five things they say you should never do when you have central air.
Let your filters go unchecked.
How well your central air system can work all comes down to the cleanliness of your air filters, according to Marco Radocaj, an HVAC expert and vice president of building performance at Ryan A. Jones & Associates. That's why he says you should never let your filters go unchecked for too long.
"If your filter is dirty, less air from your living space is getting back to the system. The buildup of pressure on the dirty filter will result in an increase of unconditioned air from your crawl space, attic or outside going through your air conditioning system," he explains. "This unconditioned air has higher temperature and humidity, which will not only impact the air coming back into the space, but also require more energy to condition."
Radocaj has been servicing air conditioners for 15 years. During his entire career, he says he has "never told anyone that their filters are too clean." So go ahead and check yours now.
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Set extremely low temperatures.
With hotter weather rushing in, you might be tempted to bring your thermostat as far down as it can go. But don't take things to the extreme just because of the summer heat, warns Roy Neely, a virtual HVAC expert for the tech-based home maintenance service Frontdoor.
"Setting the thermostat too low forces the system to work harder than necessary, resulting in increased energy consumption and higher utility bills," Neely explains.
Constantly adjust the thermostat.
Even if you're not setting it to extremely low temperatures, you shouldn't be changing your thermostat all that often either, according to Neely.
"Frequent adjustments disrupt the system's ability to maintain a consistent temperature," he says. By doing so, you will be making your central air system "work harder," and as a result, "less efficiently."
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Block the air vents.
Take a look at your air vents. Do you have any furniture, curtains, or other objects over or in front of them? If so, move the items immediately, says John Jordan, an experienced HVAC professional and president of Integrity Heating & Cooling.
"Avoid blocking or obstructing the air vents in your home," Jordan warns. "This can restrict airflow, reduce cooling efficiency, and strain your system."
At the same time, don't purposely keep too many vents closed in your home either, advises Glenn Wiseman, an HVAC expert and sales manger at the home maintenance company Top Hat Home Comfort Services.
"This can isolate certain floors from airflow and lead to your HVAC system working harder to redistribute the air," Wiseman says. "If you close certain vents, ensure there is still airflow to the room from another vent, and only leave them closed for a short time."
Keep your doors and windows open.
If you're thinking about bringing the breeze in from outside to do double duty with your cooling system, think again.
"Keeping doors and windows open while running the central air wastes energy and allows warm air from outside to enter," Jeff Palla, a home maintenance expert and president of Mr. Handyman, tells Best Life.
In fact, you'll likely be making your home hotter as a result, according to Palla. "This makes the system work harder and results in inefficient cooling," he says. "Keep doors and windows closed to maximize the cooling efficiency of your central air system."