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How to Be Your Air Conditioners Best Friend
By Scott Ethridge
There are a few things you can do to take care of your air conditioner and
make its life a little longer and a little easier.
How does your air conditioner work? Simply stated, an air conditioning unit
removes heat from the air and blows it outside with an outdoor fan. An indoor
fan pulls room air across an evaporator coil filled with refrigerant and
transfers cool air into your home. Obviously, the movement of air by fans
is a big part of the system. Thats why it is so important to replace
the filter at least once a month.
As dust is picked up, it is trapped on the filter, and you would be surprised
how quickly the dust accumulates. Trying to pull air through a clogged filter
just makes the fan work harder, raising your utility bill.
The same is true for the fan in the outdoor unit. Make sure the outside of
the unit is away from shrubs and other vegetation growth, and keep the unit
as clean and free of leaves and dirt as possible. Provide at least five feet
of clearance at the top and two feet on all sides of the unit.
When using your air conditioning, the best method is to leave the temperature
setting at one comfortable spot. The more you move the temperature up and
down, the more work your system must do. If you must move the temperature
setting, make the smallest movement possible.
Another way to prolong the life of your air conditioning unit is to operate
your other appliances wisely. Dishwashers, washers, dryers and stoves all
generate heat and humidity indoors. Try to schedule laundry and cooking during
the mornings or evenings to avoid taxing your air conditioner in the heat
of the day. Use an exhaust fan in the kitchen, and vent your clothes dryer
outside to give your air conditioner a hand.
Sunshine is also an enemy of air conditioning. Keep drapes and shades pulled
to prevent sunlight form streaming into rooms. Over 20 percent of your bill
can be due to sunlight.
Also, make sure the drain your condensation drips into is clear. Pour a cup
of regular laundry bleach down the drain once a month to kill algae and mold
and keep the drain running smoothly.
Scott Ethridge is a senior air conditioning consultant with
R.S. Andrews in Atlanta,