Keep Your Cool, Take Care of your Air Conditioner

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Whether you have central air conditioning or a window air conditioner, there are some easy things you can do to ensure it runs efficiently, therefore saving you money on electricity bills.

Of course, the ultimate way to save energy is to turn it off when not absolutely needed.  When the weather is pleasant during the day, or during cooler evening and early morning hours, simply opening windows is the least expensive course of action.  But, when those dog days of summer come along and it’s too hot and humid to think straight, keep these tips in mind:


  • Ideal placement is in a north-facing window where the sun won’t bake it and make it work harder than it should.
  • Clean the filter.  It should slide out so you can wash it with warm, soapy water to remove any dirt or mildew.  Be sure it is completely dry before putting it back into the unit.  I like to lay it out in the sun to dry.
  • Use a programmable wall outlet timer with your room air conditioner so you don’t have to leave it running while you’re not home.  The timer will turn on the A/C unit so it’ll cool down your room by the time you return.  (Make sure that the amperage and voltage ratings of the wall outlet timer are appropriate for the electricity demands of the room air conditioner).
  • When buying new, look for Energy Star rated models that have a built-in timer and/or programmable thermostat settings.  Learn how to find the proper sized unit for your room.  Save money with state rebates available for appliances such as room air conditioners.


  • Change the filter when dirty, or at least every 3 months, if used frequently.  It’ll run more efficiently and last longer.
  • Maintenance check ups for your HVAC system will keep it running efficiently.  You can do it yourself if you don’t want to call in a professional.  Here’s a helpful checklist.
  • Keep the temperature at 78 degrees or higher, and you’ll still cool down your place and reduce the humidity.
  • Install a programmable thermostat so your A/C doesn’t have to run all day while you’re away.  You’ll save almost $200 every year off heating and cooling costs!
  • Seal and insulate ducts to increase comfort levels in your home and improve your system’s efficiency by 20% or more.
  • When buying new, you’ll likely save 30% in cooling costs if your central air system is more than 12 years old.  Tax credits and appliance rebates are also available for Energy Star models to help offset the expense.

photo courtesy of Trane

Tag(s): Energy, Greening the Home, Money Saving


One Response to “Keep Your Cool, Take Care of your Air Conditioner”

  1. Hap Mansmith on June 21st, 2011 2:58 pm

    Great info. Do you guys suggest any specific distance that the unit should sit from plants or other obstructions that might keep the air from being sucked in through the unit? Thanks!

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