Networx: Air conditioning: Maintain and upgrade your system

Laura Firszt More Content Now
Maintaining and upgrading your A/C can help you stay cool for the upcoming summer months. [By Achim Hering [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons]

Hot, sunny weather is just around the corner. That means it’s time to get your air conditioner in shape. Here’s how to get the best out of your A/C this summer, with practical tips on maintaining and upgrading your system.

Maintenance

Change or clean the filter. A simple DIY way to maintain your air conditioning in great working order is to change your filter regularly (or cleaning a reusable version), especially during periods of heavy use. This ensures proper airflow and keeps dirt out of the system’s coils. Follow the manufacturer’s directions; usually every 30 to 90 days is recommended. Take care of this task more frequently if you have a cat or dog, live in a very dusty or polluted area, or suffer from allergies.

Home service plan. An air conditioning service contract with a reliable HVAC firm may be a good idea for several reasons. First of all, if you are juggling multiple responsibilities (and who isn’t, these days?), you will have one item you can cross off your to-do list. Second, you’ll get priority scheduling for your air conditioning service — both tune-ups and emergency even during the busy season. Third, you will often benefit from preferred pricing and extended warranties on repairs. Before signing the contract, read the fine print to see exactly what it includes.

Upgrade

Change the filter. No, you’re not looking at a typo. In the case of an upgrade, "change the filter" means start using a kind that will do a better job. Disposable A/C filters are cheap and convenient, but for more effective filtering of small particles such as mold and pollen, substitute electrostatic or preferably, pleated "allergy" filters.

Add a smart thermostat. Install a smart thermostat — it’s a smart step to ensure that your house is cooled when you need it most without wasting A/C if you’re away from home or not using a particular room.

Check SEER rating. Another important factor in purchasing new air conditioning is the SEER or seasonal efficiency rating. This measures performance and ranges from 10 (the minimum requirement these days) up to 26. The higher the SEER, the less you will pay annually to run your air conditioning.