Whether you enjoy the hot desert climate or not, it’s hard to ignore the value of a high performing air conditioner in Phoenix, Arizona. There’s just nothing like a cold, balanced environment on a hot summer day. At the same time, many pay the price for the way they go about chillin’ out. So we thought it’d be a good idea to dismantle a few home cooling myths so you can lower costs and relish in ultimate efficiency.
1. Turning Off Your AC Will Save You Money.
After 32 years of service, we’ve found that far too many local residents power off their air conditioners every day as they leave the house. For whatever reason, they believe that a non-running system will keep energy costs down. But this is simply not true. Every time you return home, the cooling process has to work harder to bring the house back to a comfortable temperature – even if you’re only gone for a few hours.
Turning the air conditioner off when you leave town for an extended period of time (or the whole summer) can also be counterproductive. While you’ll definitely save money, a dormant system can result in conditional problems. For example, if it rains during your absence, the humidity that forms can attract mold and pests into your home.
When the system isn’t circulating, air flow becomes stagnant and extremely hot. This is one of the most important home cooling myths to understand. If you want to save money when you’re gone, turn up the thermostat (7-10 degrees) or avoid temperatures lower than 78 degrees – instead of just shutting it down.
2. Closing Vents Will Improve Home Cooling.
Diminishing the ventilation in unused rooms (or rooms that stay fairly cold) is another common practice by uninformed homeowners. But when you close the vents, you’re actually creating a pressure imbalance in the ductwork. This hinders adequate air distribution throughout the house. In turn, your cooling system is forced to work harder and you might even expedite duct leaks.
The act of closing vents could actually push excess air into the attic or other uninhabited spaces – instead of directing more cold air to hotter parts of the home. If this is the case then you can most certainly expect a higher electric bill.
The best way to improve air distribution is to better insulate the attic, check ducts and improve the seals on entryways and windows. Hiring a professional to analyze the “hot spots” in your home is a great way to avoid further setbacks.
3. Lower Thermostat Settings Expedite Cooling.
No matter what you’ve been told about efficiency, most home cooling myths often involve the adjustment of temperature settings. Just like turning the system off, lowering the thermostat will force the system to cycle on and off more than it needs to. This also creates an unnecessary strain and higher energy costs.
While this is a common practice when it comes to window and wall units (in smaller properties like hotel rooms, apartments, guest houses, etc), it’s not an effective way to manage a central HVAC system. Truth be told, an air conditioner will still run at the same pace even when you switch your thermostat to the lowest possible setting.
Those of you that constantly change the temperature to save money should consider hiring an AC expert to install a programmable thermostat. A quality technician will advise you on the best ways to program temperatures in order to reach maximum efficiency.
4. Ceiling Fans Produce Additional Cold Air.
If you’re going to install some fans in the house, make sure you understand the home cooling myths involved. First and foremost, a ceiling fan is designed to create a wind chill – not cool off the property itself. In other words, they cannot produce cold air. No matter the size or number of fans, they can not affect the overall temperature. They simply recirculate the air that’s already in the room.
Unfortunately, many Arizonans think their AC unit won’t have to run as much when the home is equipped with a number of ceiling fans. But they’re wrong. When temperature settings remain the same, this only adds to your overall expenses. In other words, a new fan won’t increase the power, capacity or efficiency of your air conditioning system.
If anything, the added breeze may encourage you to set the thermostat at a higher temperature – which in turn will decrease your energy usage. According to ceilingfan.com, “A central AC unit runs [at] about 3 kilowatts and costs about $0.30 per hour.” In comparison, a ceiling fan averages 30 watts and costs only $0.01 per hour.
5. Repairs Are Cheaper Than Replacements.
Like we’ve mentioned in previous articles, waiting to replace your air conditioner until it completely fails is extremely risky. Aside from the inconvenience of routine repairs, system inefficiency will hike up your energy usage. In fact, keeping an old and outdated system up and running is normally more expensive than installing a new one.
Is it really worth it to pay hundreds of dollars more every single month just to avoid an upgrade? The reality is, today’s manufactured heating and cooling systems are far more superior when it comes to energy output and SEER ratings. When you believe in the home cooling myths about maximizing equipment, money usually left on the table.
6. A Bigger Cooling System Is More Efficient.
Size and capacity is another topic we’ve frequently touched on in the past. No matter what you’re told, an air conditioner that is too small for your home will always be overworked. Even though it’s cheaper, it will never be able to reach maximum efficiency and will more than likely fail prematurely. Portable AC units will not help.
On the flipside, one of the most misunderstood home cooling myths is that bigger is better. But when the air conditioning compressor is dealing with excess capacity, it will continuously cycle on and off in short intervals – using a lot more electricity. Over time, this wears down the system and sometimes even results in property damage.
Before you install a new air conditioner, it’s extremely important to seek the guidance of a certified professional that knows how to adequately size your home. Even a half ton bigger can make a huge difference in your costs and comfort.
7. New Systems Don’t Need Maintenance.
Whether your AC system is 6 months or 16 years old, professional maintenance is important. One minor error or malfunction can tremendously impact your cooling output and the lifespan of the system. The best time to get things checked out and tuned up is in the spring – even if you just purchased a replacement in the fall.
Routine inspections don’t cost a lot of money and double checking everything post installation is one of the smartest things you can do. Would you skip the first oil change after buying a new car?
Since a new cooling system is a big investment, keeping it running like new is ideal.
Quality Service is Invaluable.
Understanding how to properly care for an air conditioner is no easy task. That’s why we do our best to educate the Phoenix community as much as we can. At the end of the day, home cooling myths can be extremely counterproductive. If you want to avoid the unexpected, do your best to work with certified technicians that care.