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Proper Air-Conditioning Maintenance Will Help You Keep Your Cool This Summer

ARI Provides Basic Guidelines

New York, Jul 17, 2003

The summer season is in full swing – with barbeques to attend, vacations to enjoy and gardens to tend to. While regularly enjoying these pleasant outdoor activities, the hazy and hot “dog days of summer” can often drive residents indoors to escape the heat and cool off in air-conditioned homes. Although they offer relief, regular use of residential air-conditioners boosts energy usage, ultimately increasing utility costs for consumers and homeowners. Proper maintenance and care can extend the life of air-conditioners, helping to beat the summer heat, conserve energy and save money.

To keep air-conditioning equipment operating efficiently and to save money, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has provided the following basic list of recommendations for consumers to help keep residential air-conditioners running smoothly, and at a minimum cost:

  • Clean and replace the air conditioner's filter frequently (monthly during heavy use)
  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps should have annual, equipment inspections by a trained technician who will check refrigerant fluid and mechanical operations
  • Keep fallen leaves, grass clippings, foliage and other dirt and debris away from your outdoor unit. And keep the conditioner's coils clean, following manufacturers’ instructions
  • Don't block vents or ducts inside the house to assure air flow in the home
  • Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors (especially the attic) to close air gaps
  • Run fans to keep air moving, so you feel cooler and can cut back air conditioner use
  • Avoid using the oven during the day. Run the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer in the evening, when electricity rates may be lower and heat from those appliances won't increase the demands on your air conditioner
  • Turn off lamps, TV and other appliances when not in use
  • Raise the thermostat setting as much as you can without sacrificing comfort. For every degree you raise the setting, you can expect to cut your energy consumption by up to 3 to 5 percent
  • Consider use of a programmable thermostat to automatically increase or decrease temperatures during the day or night to suit a family's lifestyle and reduce energy cost
  • Use shades, blinds, or curtains to keep sunlight out of the house
  • Keep windows and doors closed when the air conditioner is on

Following these basic guidelines will save energy and reduce operating costs while providing continuous, cooling comfort throughout the summer months. Even with proper maintenance, if older air-conditioning equipment breaks down and is too costly to repair, a replacement may be more cost-effective. According to ARI, on average, newer equipment is approximately 45% more energy-efficient than equipment manufactured 20 years ago.

For more information, ARI provides, free of charge, a consumer brochure entitled How to Keep Your Cool and Save Cold Cash answers more than 40 common questions about central indoor comfort systems.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel