It’s summer, and if you don’t have Central cooling in your house, you likely have your AC window unit at full-blast. To make your unit run as cool as possible all summer long, follow these simple at-home maintenance tips to keep your family cool and you air conditioner running top-notch.
If your unit is not blowing efficient air or is blowing warm air even when it’s on its coolest setting, check the filters. They can get clogged with dirt and outside debris and if they are not cleaned or replaced the air conditioner won’t work to its best capabilities. You can take the filters out and vacuum them or shake them out like rugs. Wipe down the inside of the unit to clear out debris as well. A clean AC unit will work to its fullest capabilities.
If you’re worried about the cost of your electric bill and don’t want to run your AC all day, place it on fan only and place a bowl of ice cubes in front of or on top of the unit. The fan air running into the cold ice cubes will produce that much-needed cool air without running the unit to full capacity, saving you a few dollars and keeping you cool.
Keep a few windows open in the house to properly ventilate the cool air throughout your home. The air that is coming out of your single unit will keep the room or hallway it’s installed in the coolest, and that air needs an escape route so it doesn’t just cool the one part of the house it’s in. Give the cool air a path to travel throughout the house by cracking open the kitchen window or back bedroom window, so that relieving cool air not only cools the room the AC is set up in, but the air travels all throughout the home as well. To test the air flow, with the AC on, take a tissue and hold it to the open window. The tissue (or wash cloth, or any light fabric) should “suck” into the window, which means that the AC air is being properly pulled through the house. Just a crack in the window should do (2 inches or so). Don’t open the window wide or else you’ll be letting in hot air from outside and compromise the indoor cooling.
When you are not home, leave the AC off, or if it has a timer, time it to turn on about an hour before someone arrives home so you’re not wasting money and energy cooling an empty house. When the house is already cool in the morning, shut all doors in the house and close the blinds. Run the AC for about a half hour on full-blast freaking cold. With the house closed off, this will help trap the cool in the home during the day when no one is home and help the house cool more quickly once the family arrives home in the afternoon. This also helps your home stay cooler for animals left in the home when no one is home as well.
Having pets home all day in the home, to keep the house cool run the AC on low fan and once again keep all blinds and curtains closed to keep the sun out of the home and to keep your pets cooler with just the fan. This should keep your pets comfortable from the heat until in the evening, when you are home to control the coolness in the house.
If the AC unit won’t cool even after checking the filters and the fans and motors are working properly, the unit likely needs to be recharged with Freon. Typically, one has to have a license to put Freon in an AC unit, so call your local heating and repair technician and have them take a look at your unit. They typically charge between $30-$50 just to look at the unit, whether you take it into the shop or they come to your house, so keep in mind that even if they can find nothing wrong with the unit there will be a cost to check it out. If you choose to repair the unit, your total cost can be between $150-$200. If that is too expensive for you, simply pick up another unit at your local thrift store (you can test them there to make sure they work before purchasing) and sell your defunct AC unit, because someone else will be willing to recharge it.
For an AC unit that needs to be recharged, the bowl of ice method works great. This way, you can still use your unit until you get it fixed or buy a new one and still keep your home cool.
These tips work not only to keep your home cool while using the unit, but also to help you not use your unit so often and still keep the home cool, giving your air conditioner a break and saving you money while still keeping you cool.