We’re nearing the end of the season! The heat might not be letting up any time soon, but that doesn’t change the fact that several hot months have already passed. Now is a great time to take a look at your air conditioner and your cooling habits. This is by no means a comprehensive check nor does it replace maintenance, but it can certainly help avoid some disasters.
Check on Your Air Filter
The easiest and sometimes most effective thing you can do for your AC is to replace the air filter. It may have been perfectly clean when you started the hot season, but after several months, it’s most likely becoming clogged with dust and dirt. A dirty air filter can cause a whole range of symptoms, some of which can actually harm your air conditioner in the long run.
If you’re having trouble finding your air filter, consult your AC’s user manual or call up a professional for some advice.
Check for Refrigerant Leaks
Refrigerant leaks aren’t super common—especially not with new systems—but it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick scan of your system to see if you have one.
Refrigerant leaks often start as pinhole leaks, meaning they’ll be very hard to spot. Admittedly, you should enlist the help of an HVAC contractor for this; they have the experience and tools to find these leaks.
On your own, the most you can do is see the more obvious signs, but even that is better than not checking at all. Refrigerant leaks can cause serious damage to your system when left neglected.
Check the copper refrigerant lines through the system for tiny bubbles; this will indicate a pinhole leak. More obvious signs would be the hiss of refrigerant escaping the system, and possibly a screeching or screaming, which would indicate depressurization. In either event, shut off your AC immediately and call a professional.
Evaluate Your Energy Usage
As we near the end of this hot season, you can take a look at your energy usage and see how you can improve for next year. There are two ways you can do this: the hard way and the lazy way.
The hard way would be to take a look at your monthly energy bills and try to get an estimate of how you’ve been using your air. If you know you’ve been fickle and changing the temperature whenever you get warm, then there could be room for improvement in your cooling habits. Ultimately, however, you’d be making guesstimates about your usage and won’t know for sure.
The lazy way is by having a smart thermostat. These can track your day-to-day energy usage to give you an actual visual graph on how you’ve been using energy. Just because you’re using a smart thermostat doesn’t mean you’re using it smartly. These thermostats are programmed to help you with saving, but that doesn’t mean it will stop you from manually changing the temperature. At the very least, you’ll be able to track your habits, see it for what it is, and make logical deductions about how to change those habits.