As summer approaches we all want to save money and stay cool, but there are some myths about home cooling that keep popping up that could cost you more and reduce your comfort. Here are 5 common air conditioning myths to watch out for.
Cooling Myth: A bigger air conditioner will cool your home better
A larger HVAC system does not necessarily mean better comfort or energy savings. In fact, an oversized air conditioner can end up making you less comfortable and costing you more. That’s because an air conditioner that is too large for your home will end up cycling on and off more often as it quickly cools the rooms with good airflow and fails to get cool air out to the rooms that don’t. These hot and cold spots are a common issue with oversized air conditioners.
The ideal air conditioner is one that has been properly sized to the home with a professional heat load calculation. Make sure when you have a new air conditioner installed that your contractor doesn’t base sizing on square footage or by just matching the existing unit. Insist on a heat load calculation and you can avoid a lot of frustration later.
If it seems like your air conditioner is straining on the hottest days of summer to keep your home cooled, it could be because of a number of reasons. Just like your car, and the air conditioner needs regular maintenance. Start by keeping the furnace filter clean since air conditioners are especially sensitive to airflow restrictions. An annual tune-up from a licensed technician is also recommended to keep the unit clean and running efficiently. You should also consider having your insulation checked to make sure your home is effectively keeping the hot air out and the cool air in.
Cooling Myth: Cranking the temperature down will cool your home faster
Most central air conditioners cool at a fairly consistent pace until they reach the temperature you set on the thermostat. Turning the temperature past your desired temperature won’t kick your AC into a higher gear, it will just work longer and waste energy overcooling your home.
Newer air conditioners that have variable or two-stage cooling can cool the home more effectively by ramping up and down depending on the demand, but you’re still best setting your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and letting the system do the rest.
Cooling Myth: It’s more efficient to keep your thermostat at the same temperature all the time because it takes more energy to cool a room than maintain a set temperature
Trying to maintain the same temperature all day and night is much less efficient than adjusting your thermostat based on your schedule. Programmable thermostats have made this easier than ever and they can save you a significant amount of money and energy.
This cooling myth persists because some people believe that an air conditioner has to work harder to cool the house back down when you get home, negating any benefit from keeping the system off while you were away. However, this simply isn’t true. Most air conditioners operate at the same capacity all the time so they use the same amount of energy every minute they run regardless of how warm the home is.
This does mean that it could take longer for your air conditioner to reach the set temperature when you get home if you haven’t been running it at all during the day, so we don’t recommend turning your air conditioner completely off while you’re away. A best practice is to set the thermostat 5-10 degrees warmer to avoid wasting so much energy cooling an empty house.
Cooling Myth: Fans keep rooms cooler
Fans cool people, not rooms. Moving air feels cooler and can lower your body temperature so fans are a great way to reduce your reliance on air conditioning during the summer. But they don’t actually lower the temperature in a room. One exception to this rule is if you’re using a fan to draw in cooler outdoor air through a window or door.
So, using ceiling fans is a great way to save energy and stay cool. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the room.
Cooling Myth: Closing off vents will help improve comfort and reduce cooling costs
Vents and registers may have levers that allow you to redirect airflow, but it’s not a good idea to close them off completely. Properly sized HVAC systems are designed for your home, balancing the airflow throughout your duct system. Blocking vents disturbs the balance of the system and can suffocate your heating and cooling system.
If you are trying to compensate for hot and cold spots in your home, closing vents is not the way to do it. If you have extreme differences in temperature it would be a good idea to have a professional confirm that your system is sized properly and make recommendations for improving the comfort in your home.