We receive many calls for home ac repair with the complaint, “it doesn’t keep up on hot days.” Often, there is need for an emergency air conditioning repair or home ac replacement. But there are several steps you can take to make it easier for your air conditioner to cool your home. Let’s look at some ways to improve your comfort without raising your utility bill.
Ways to Optimize Your Home’s Air Conditioning System’s Performance and Reduce Your Home AC Repair Costs
Ancient Americans of the Desert Southwest used passive cooling for comfort without the use of electrical power. They built homes into stone canyon walls or with thick earthen walls. These massive structures retained heat to ‘average out’ the daytime high and nighttime low temperatures.
Centuries later, early South Floridians built their homes with broad shade porches and many carefully-placed windows for cross-ventilation. Some patterned their homes after the ancient structures to build thick hollow-masonry walls coated with layers of stucco.
It is unlikely passive cooling will return to replace the mechanical comfort systems we enjoy today. But we can adapt some time-tested practices to make our homes yet more comfortable and our utility bills more affordable. By the same measure, we can also avoid overworking our home air conditioning systems, in the process reducing our emergency air conditioning repair costs.
Shade from Radiant Heat
If you have ever stood by a sunlit window in a cool room, you have felt the effect of radiant heat. Energy from the Sun traverses 93 million miles of space. In the last few feet before it enters your home, you can block the heat with shading. Porches, awnings, and vine-covered pergolas add useful space to your home and placed on the east, west, and south sides of the home will shade walls, doors, and windows from the searing sunlight. Shade trees have the same effect, window tinting, and reflective glass will reduce your utility bill and help your air conditioner keep up on the hottest of days.
Insulate and Ventilate the Attic
Insulation slows the movement of heat into your home. Heat from ceilings accounts for about 5% of your cooling bill. In South Florida, 6-inches (R-19) is recommended as optimum, and the roll or batt insulation is best. Attic vents allow the attic to ‘breathe,’ letting heat out during the day and introducing cooler air to the attic in the evening. Vents that have been closed off with insulation, paint, or insect debris should be removed and cleaned or replaced.
Light-colored roofs reflect more heat and tend to reduce attic temperatures. Shingle and tile roofs darken with algae and debris. Reflective coatings designed protect fade over time and must be re-applied. Good maintenance will not only extend the life of your roof but will also keep your home cooler. Consult your roofing contractor about how to properly clean and coat your roof.
Control the Leaks
Every home leaks air to some degree. Every time we open a door, some cool air goes out and warm air comes in. Ventilation from fans and clothes driers, and minor leaks around windows and doors bring more fresh air into the home. All this is good for your health and that of your home. For these reasons, your air conditioner is designed to allow for a certain amount of ventilation.
But leaking ducts and uncaulked gaps in building components in will actually force cold air out and pull warm air into your home. This can drive up utility bills, render your AC unit unable to keep up on a warm day, and leave unsightly streaks where unfiltered air comes through small gaps. A bit of caulk and weather-stripping goes a long way toward controlling unwanted heat and humidity.
Open the Windows
Having just talked about controlling leaks, this sounds odd. But there are those days – perhaps a few weeks in the spring and fall, that we can invite perfect outdoor weather into our homes. Take advantage of these days to open windows and doors to let in the fresh air. Because modern homes do not always allow for effective cross-ventilation it helps to turn your fan switch to ‘on’ to bring fresh air to remote areas of the home.
Homes age, and maintenance is always a good investment. Insulation, caulking, cleaning, and other means are valuable cost-saving helps to cool your home passively. Most importantly, your air conditioning system must also be maintained at optimum performance to minimize home AC repair costs.
If you have yet to install an air conditioning in your home, take advantage of our highly rated AC installations services today. If you already have one installed, then we suggest membership to our Comfort Club. The membership gives you tools and advice on how to keep your air conditioner performing at its absolute best for all seasons. Contact today to arrange your own membership