tips - not an ad
the Most From Your Central Air Conditioning
money on your power bill)
This was written for Canadians with
central air conditioning. It also could be applied to the USA and other
In my 40 years of owning A/C homes
in Ontario and Quebec I've learned a lot. Many of these tips will probably
be found on other web sites – but not all of them!
you have an efficient home A/C system?
When turned on does your A/C system
go on and off all day and all night? This is an indication that it is working
correctly. Or does your (outside) compressor stay on all day and most of
the night? (Not good). On very hot days does the temperature inside your
house rise – even with the air running? (Really bad).
your thermostat for summer and forget it
Pick a temperature that you want
your house to be in the summer. You might have to experiment to find
the right temperature that is comfortable for you and your family. I use
23° (73.5 F). Do not set too low – it is not necessary. Do not set
too high – our local hydro company recommends 26° (78 F) – at this
temperature you will probably sleep above your blankets on hot nights –
what's the point of owning air?
the furnace fan on permanantly
Turn on the "fan" at your thermostat
and leave on for the summer. It will cool your upstairs with basement air
- even when your A/C is not running.
to turn your A/C on and off
In Canada we often have mild summer
days and/or nights. Check the expected temperatures for the day on the
TV in the morning. If it will be mild – turn your A/C off (at the thermostat)
and open your windows. Same for nighttime. Do NOT change the thermostat
temperature! Learn to do this daily.
all the windows
When running air conditioning keep
all the house windows closed tight. Ensure your family complies!
your curtains & blinds
Radiant (sun) energy through your
windows will warm the rooms more than the hot air from outside! Keep your
blinds, curtains AND windows closed.
your lights off during the day
Lights generate heat and use power!
A/C empty rooms
Have bedrooms that are not used?
Close the window, blinds & curtains, close the vent, shut the cupboard
door and shut the bedroom door. Who cares if the room gets warm? Same for
all bathrooms in your house. Learn to close the bathroom door after each
Always keep cupboard doors closed
in every room – Did you really want to A/C all those old coats and children's
with your vents
Find the right balance. All vents
open on 2nd floor (except as above), most open on 1st floor and all vents
closed in the basement.
Except for the rooms mentioned above
all your vents should be open fully. You want good airflow through your
furnace A/C system. Is your furnace air filter dirty? Start the summer
with a new filter and check monthly. A dirty filter will reduce the airflow
significantly. If the airflow is reduced too much, the A/C system will
freeze into a block of ice and stop working!
cold in the basement?
This is a common problem in most
houses. This is caused because of an obvious combination of items. The
A/C system runs through the basement furnace and is freezing cold, heat
rises, A/C vents in the basement are not needed in the summer and there
is often a poor "return" of air from the basement to the furnace. Even
if you do not use your basement your objective is to send that nice cold
air from the basement to the upper floors where it is needed. Always keep
your basement door shut. Close every basement vent. I actually tape over
the basement vents so there are no leaks. Check your basement air "return"
to the furnace. Ensure it is open fully. Check the humidifier on the furnace.
Ensure it is shut off. Is the humidifier sealed? I place a special cut
piece of cardboard in my humidifier so all airflow is completely cut off.
When the A/C is running check around the furnace for cold air leaks – you'll
be surprised at how many there are! Tape over any obvious leaks.
still too cold?
Here are a few more items that can
be done to send that nice cold air upstairs. Remove the metal plate over
the furnace filter. This will allow even more basement air to go upstairs.
As a last resort, remove your furnace filter – it will really improve the
My temperatures with the improvements
I mention above - main floor 23°, upper floor 24°, basement 22°.
through a heatwave
Turn the air on and leave on until
the heat wave is finished. Do not be tempted to shut off at night.
a new (or your first) A/C system
(1 Ton is about 12,000 BTU)
Canadian contractor recommended
sizes are 1.5 Ton for small homes, 2 Ton for 2000 square feet. 2.5 Ton
for 2500, 3 Ton for 3000, etc. This is the absolute minimum and the recommended
size will often not keep the temperature you request when the outside temperature
exceeds 30°. I recommend that you purchase 2 Ton for small homes, 2.5
Ton for 2000 square feet. 3 Ton for 2500, 3.5 Ton for 3000, etc.
When purchasing an A/C system the
contractor will often send a salesperson to your home. See what he recommends
before you volunteer your knowledge. Be careful if he recommends a system
that is too small for your home. The price difference for a larger system
should be very little (<$500). If he continues to insist on a (too)
small system (for any reason) it is often because the contractor has already
purchased several of the small systems and wants to unload them. He does
not share your interest in giving you the correct system!
Done everything above? But temperatures
still climbing in your house on hot days? It could be you have an older
home with poor insulation. Or you need more insulation in your attic. Or
an attic fan to get rid of the heat up there. More shade trees on your
property will really reduce your power costs and improve your A/C efficiency.
But really – you probably need a new (or larger) air conditioning system
for your house.
Systems vs USA systems
As soon as you cross the border
American systems are 50% larger. In the Southern USA systems are twice
as big as Canadian systems.
corrections and additions
Are all welcomed. Please E-Mail
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
recent page review : 2009 08 20