June 20, 2016
In Massachusetts, we welcome the summer heat after the freezing winter and the long thaw of spring. New England summers are full of sunshine and fun, but they can prove to be a sticky situation if your home isn’t as ready as you are for the heat.
Before launching into this sunshine season, let’s ensure your home is set to withstand the heat. Below are a number of ideas to help get your home summer-ready.
Prime Your Central AC
Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware that simply turning on your central air conditioning system once the heat hits without checking it first can negatively impact your energy usage. To combat this and make sure your unit is running at peak performance, take a look into the following before powering up:
- Make Sure It’s Clean
This piece of advice often goes overlooked. Your outdoor unit should not be blocked or obstructed by anything – this means gravel, debris, leaves, or branches. Obstructions can cause your unit to run less efficiently by blocking or clogging the air flow, putting extra stress on the system. Take a good survey of your unit and make sure nothing is in the way.
In addition to clearing out larger pieces of debris, you can also use a brush to clean away leaves, pine needles, dirt, and anything else that collects on your unit. Be sure to inspect the grate that covers the fan, as this can be a hotspot for unwanted materials. The coils on the outside of the unit can also collect dirt, so be sure to brush them thoroughly. While cleaning, make sure you are gentle to ensure you don’t accidentally bend the metal fins or damage the coils that provide precious cool air to your home.
- Clean or Swap the Filter
Chances are that last year’s filter is still sitting in your machine. Generally, it’s a good idea to replace your air conditioner filter every three months. Even if it was replaced towards the end of last summer, it’s still a good idea to make sure that nothing has accumulated over the fall and winter seasons. Whether your unit has a disposable or cleanable filter, make sure you check it before you turn the system on, and more importantly that you check it regularly throughout the summer.
- Are You Insulated?
AC units work by distributing air that is cooled down by a refrigerant, a chemical that chills the coils the air passes over, throughout ducts and vents in your home. This refrigerant runs throughout the system via dedicated lines that are insulated to make sure the temperature doesn’t rise. You can identify these lines on your outdoor central AC unit by their foam insulation.
Over time, deteriorating insulation can compromise these lines. Check for areas where this insulation might be torn or even gone completely. It might seem insignificant, but not having proper insulation adds up to sizable losses in energy over time. You can replace this insulation yourself by installing new foam sleeves in places where the old insulation is worn down.
- Seal Your Ducts
Most modern ductwork is hidden in ceilings and walls, so it’s a good idea to call a professional for this one. Sealing duct leaks in unconditioned spaces like attics and crawlspaces can amount to big energy and money savings during the summer and year-round, making sure that the air you paid to cool (or heat) is actually reaching you. This helps you avoid rooms that are stuffy in the summer and chilly in winter.
Programmable & Wi-Fi Thermostats
Programmable and Wi-Fi thermostats have become extremely popular over the past several years, and for good reason. These thermostats can provide big energy savings in the summer and winter, by allowing you to program the temperature you want, when you want it. You can set schedules to reduce heating and cooling when everyone’s at work, school, or out and about.
Wi-Fi thermostats offer even more control than standard programmable thermostats. The advantages are numerous but some highlights include being able to:
- Monitor and change your home’s temperature settings remotely via computer, tablet, or smartphone
- Set up smart control features to allow the thermostat to automatically adjust to local weather conditions
- Program detailed schedules, to the degree, for particular times and days
Mass Save offers rebates on both programmable and Wi-Fi thermostats. There is no better time to take advantage of these rebates than now. To see how you can save, find out what rebates are being offered in your area today.
For more ideas on saving energy this summer, check out our other posts on the Mass Saver blog to find more ways to save.