The weather is heating up! Here in West Michigan we are starting to see temps hitting the 90s and the humidity is rising. Our air conditioners are starting to work hard to cool the house and reduce the humidity levels. You may have noticed your AC struggling to keep up. Does it seem like it’s constantly running, but never gets the home to a comfortable temperature? If so, you are not alone. Most homes, even new homes, suffer from this problem during the hot summer days.
These problems can happen because of anything from an undersized system, poor HVAC design, disconnected ducts, poor air flow and so on. Here are some things you can do yourself, before you spend a bunch of money bringing out the local HVAC contractor.
- Change your filter – You should do this all year round, but during the summer is very important. A dirty HVAC filter will add resistance to the system and reduce the air flow. This is one of the most common reasons for a system not performing to its best. Check your filter once a month.
- Keep the sunlight out – Since windows are not very efficient (even the good ones), solar heat gain is huge strain on the AC. If you don’t already have any exterior shading on the windows, close the shades during the hot part of the day. Especially on the East and West facing windows.
- Use your fans – Fans won’t cool the air, but they will circulate the air and help cool you off. If you don’t have ceiling fans then use a stationary fan. Ceiling fans are fairly inexpensive and easy to install.
- Wear less clothes – This one is pretty self explainable!
- Close up the house – During the hot part of the day, make sure you close up the house and that includes locking the windows. Reducing the amount of air infiltration is key. Don’t make it easy for the hot air to find its way in.
- Turn off lights – This is especially important if you still have incandescent bulbs, since they are heat sources with a byproduct of light. Make sure you also turn off any devices that are producing waste heat, such as the home entertainment system.
- Disconnected duct work – This can really affect the comfort of the home by reducing the amount of air flow. It can be an even bigger problem if any of the ducts are located outside the building envelope (in the attic). Not only will you be losing that conditioned air, you are also introducing the hot attic air into the duct system.
- Don’t turn off the system – If you go to work for the day, don’t turn the system off completely. adjust your thermostat to a higher setting such as 75 to 78 degrees (depending on how low you keep it when your home). If you turn it off completely and the house gets into the 80s, it will be a losing battle to get the house back to a comfortable temperature.
- Air flow & temp issues – Make sure your evaporator coil (inside coil) is clean. A dirty coil will not be able to capture the heat from the air passing over it. This can lead to the coil freezing up, which blocks the air flow. Make sure the condenser coil (outside coil) is clean and no bushes are too close. These two issues will also block the air flow. These steps should be done by an HVAC professional.
- Consider getting an energy audit – An audit is a whole house approach to diagnosing energy issues. This would include all the issues mentioned above, but also dive deeper into what could be causing these problems. Using a 3rd party auditor will insure the recommendations are non bias.
Here at GreenEdge we offer a wide variety of services to address any concerns you have about your house. If you are considering buying a home make sure you get a Home Energy Audit. If you are building a home make sure your builder is getting a HERS Index Rating on the home. Know what you are getting yourself into, it may save you thousands in the long run.