Record temperatures in the summer mean a conventional air conditioning unit might not be able to keep up with rising heat. Fortunately, a few simple upgrades and home improvements can boost your air conditioner’s performance.
Air Products & Services, your trusted AC repair contractor, lists them below:
Smart Upgrades to Boost Your Air Conditioner’s Performance and Energy Efficiency
- Programmable thermostat – A programmable thermostat can be set to raise or lower the temperature at certain times of the day. For instance, if you’re at work, you can set a programmable thermostat to gradually lower the temperature. That way, when you get home, you won’t have to wait for your air conditioner to cool your home.
- Smart AC controller – By pairing the controller with your phone, you can adjust and monitor temperatures inside your home remotely.
- Motion sensors – AC units with motion sensors adjust temperatures according to the level of movement detected in parts of your house. This means a motion-activated air conditioner will only cool a room when there are people inside, and will adjust the temperature accordingly when it no longer detects movement. Since a motion-activated air conditioner only cools a room when necessary, it’s more efficient and consumes less electricity than a conventional AC.
- Indoor air quality sensors – Indoor air quality is a bigger problem than most people think. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is two to five times higher than outdoor levels. These sensors measure the level of indoor air pollution and remind you when to change the air filter.
How Often Should You Change Your AC Air Filter?
A clogged air filter can lower your AC’s efficiency, not to mention increase the strain on your cooling system. That’s why it’s important to change the air filter every three months. However, you need to change it more frequently if you have pets (every six to eight weeks) or allergies (every four weeks). As for AC maintenance, an AC troubleshooting system technician should conduct an inspection at least once a year.
Home Upgrades to Help Keep Things Cool at Home
- Weather seals – Cool air can escape through the tiniest openings. To prevent cool air from leaking out in the summer and heat from entering your home, the gaps between your window AC unit and the window frame should be plugged with insulated panels.
- Energy-efficient windows – Heat gain through windows increases the strain on your air conditioner, as well as your cooling costs. According to the Department of Energy, heat gain and heat loss through windows account for 25% to 30% of residential heating and cooling costs.
Should You Replace Your Aging Air Conditioner?
Of course, upgrades can only do so much. If your air conditioner is far beyond its estimated service life (which for most modern AC systems is between 15 and 20 years), it may be time to get an air conditioner replacement.
In addition to checking your AC’s service life, how can you tell if you need a new air conditioner? By keeping an eye out for warning signs such as:
- Short cycling – Short cycling occurs when your AC shuts down the compressor (the component responsible for moving the liquid refrigerant that absorbs heat) before the cooling cycling is completed. In a normal cooling cycle, the compressor runs until your AC’s thermostat detects that the temperature has reached the set level. Short-cycling (which causes your AC to power down and restart frequently) is usually caused by low refrigerant levels, a clogged filter or too much or too little cooling capacity. If your AC is too small or too large for your home, it needs to be replaced. That’s because repeated cycling can increase wear and tear on your AC’s sensitive components and shorten its service life.
- Hot and cold spots – Uneven indoor temperatures are usually a sign your air conditioner isn’t as efficient as it used to be.
- Unusual noises – Unusual noises coming from your air conditioner are never a good sign, as they’re indicators that one of your air conditioner’s components is malfunctioning. In some cases, malfunctioning components can be easily replaced, but if not, you may need to replace your aging AC unit.
What Unusual AC Noises Mean
- Rattling noises – Rattling noises are usually caused by loose debris stuck in your condenser unit, which is responsible for turning pressurized refrigerant vapor into its liquid form. To prevent damage to the condenser unit, the area surrounding it should be kept free of weeds and other debris.
- Clicking sounds – It’s normal to hear a clicking sound when your AC turns on or shuts down, but if the clicking sounds are continuous, there may be something wrong with your thermostat.
- Hissing noises – Hissing noises are usually a sign there’s a leak in your home’s air ducts.
If you hear any of the aforementioned noises, you should have an AC repair contractor conduct an inspection.
Which AC Type Is Best Suited to Residential Homes?
If you need to purchase a new AC unit, you should do your research on which type can meet your needs. To help you decide, here’s an overview of the pros and cons of the different types of air conditioners:
- Window AC units – Due to their compact size and affordability, window AC units are arguably the best choice for small homes. However, they don’t have a lot of cooling capacity, so they’re not a great choice for larger homes.
- Ductless or mini-split systems – Ductless or mini-split systems can have up to four indoor air-handling units that distribute cool air. This means they can cool several rooms at the same time.
- Central AC units – Central air conditioning units are the preferred choice for large residential homes and commercial buildings, thanks to their efficiency at distributing cool air evenly. There are two types of central AC units: split-system types and packaged units. As the name suggests, split-system AC units are composed of an exterior metal box (containing the compressor, condenser coil and expansion coil) and an interior component (containing the cooling coil, long blower and air filter). Packaged units, meanwhile, are often installed in commercial buildings.
Other Factors to Consider Before Buying a New AC Unit
In addition to the AC type, what other things do you need to take into account before buying an AC replacement?
- Energy efficiency – Getting a modern air conditioner replacement can help you reduce your cooling costs by 20% to 40%. However, to maximize energy savings, you should choose an AC unit with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating in the 20s. The higher the AC unit’s SEER rating, the more energy efficient it is.
- Ease of maintenance – Replacing the air filter in most central and mini-split AC systems is relatively easy.
AC Features to Consider
When looking for a new AC unit, you should also consider new features that can help improve your quality of living.
Here are some AC features that can help you get a better night’s sleep:
- Compressor sound insulators – What many people don’t know is that noise coming from your air conditioner can reach up to 75 decibels, which is louder than a passenger car traveling at 65 miles per hour. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, we recommend getting an air conditioner replacement with compressor sound insulators that can lower noise levels to 50 decibels, the same level of noise you’ll hear in a local library.
- Sleep-mode feature – Lowering the thermostat to 65°F can help you sleep. However, if the room gets too cold, you could be jolted awake. To prevent this from happening, you might want to consider buying an air conditioner with a sleep-mode feature that automatically raises the temperature of your room if it drops too low at night.
One more thing: if you’re having trouble choosing an AC replacement, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced AC technician.
Air Products & Services has been serving local residents since 1979. We offer a wide range of professional HVAC services, including AC troubleshooting system services. To get a free estimate on a new AC unit, call us at (818) 989-2030 or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in Tarzana as well as surrounding communities in CA.