Keeping your cool over the summer
The first heat wave of the summer has hit, meaning it's time to maintain air conditioning systems to prevent breakdowns and ensure homes remain cool.
These tips, provided by heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialists, include:
~ shutting off unnecessary lights;
~ avoiding the use of appliances that generate heat, such as an oven or stove;
~ closing all doors and windows;
~ closing window blinds in the upward direction to keep out direct sunlight;
~ setting the thermostat to a cooling mode;
~ having the fan switch set to "on" instead of "auto" to allow filtered air to continually circulate through the house; and
~ setting programmable thermostats at a high, constant temperature such as 79 degrees.
In addition, check the air filter and replace it immediately if it's dirty. Cleaning the filter is not as effective as replacing it because a dirty air filter can impede airflow and force the air conditioning system to work harder and be less efficient in cooling the home.
While these tips can help prevent AC systems from breaking down, it's not the most efficient method.
"The easiest way to prevent AC system failure is to schedule professional maintenance twice a year," recommends Eric Swenson, an HVAC sales and marketing manager at Ferguson Enterprises in Newport News. "Ideally, maintenance should occur in the spring before cooling season and the fall before heating season."