Prepare your home for the Atlanta heat wave that is looming! Summer is here and across Marietta, Alpharetta, up to Canton, down to Dallas, and over to Rome; homeowners are going to be stressing their heating and air systems to the max. The high humidity and heat is grueling and you haven't even seen your utility bills just yet. The temperatures are spiking and you as a homeowner need to know what to look for to prevent an AC breakdown. Fortunately, preventative steps and maintenance can keep your system running all summer long. Follow these steps:
Change Your Air Filter
No excuses here. Change your air filters regularly and more frequently during peak running season. Changing air filters can aid in your system running at full capacity, and extend the lifespan of the system. Realistically, as air flows through your filters, particles from the air get trapped in your air filters. This can cause air flow restrictions causing all components of your system to work harder and longer. Clean air filters can reduce your air conditioner's energy usage by up to 15%!
Close the Shades / Keep Your Doors Closed
This is an easy way for you to keep high humidity at bay and your home's temps comfortable. Full sunshine can dramatically increase the temps in your home. Keep the blinds closed. It's so easy! This can reduce temps by up to 5-10 degrees in your home, dependent upon the number over windows you have. No window shades? Install some! Secondly, keep your attached garage doors closed. There is no need to warm the inside walls of your home which can increase temperatures. Lastly, do your best to limit frequent in and out through the exterior doors. Cool air can easily escape every time opened.
Program Your Thermostat for a Summer Heat Wave
The Atlanta heat index is in the high 90's and low 100's. Your system can only cool so much. Realistically, your heating and air system is meant to cool your home to the set temperature on your thermostat in "normal" temperatures. Your current system is sized for average temperatures. When we reach temperatures considered "extreme," such as the high 90's, your system may not be able to keep up. System size and design also plays a factor in its ability to keep up. Lastly, your system really can only handle a 20 degree difference. If it's 98 degrees outside, a 78 degree constant temp in your home is fantastic! Program your thermostat no lower than 20 degrees from the high temp of the day. Generally, the EPA recommends 74 - 78 degrees. This is the best way to conserve energy and prevent a breakdown due to constant use.
Rinse Off Your Outdoor Unit
Part of routine preventative maintenance is washing off the dust, dirt and grime on your outdoor unit. If you haven't had HVAC maintenance just yet, take the time to rinse off your outdoor unit with a hose. A clogged outdoor unit can dramatically effect your energy efficiency and AC operation. The next tip works in hand with the cleaning of your outdoor unit.
Trim Bushes & Vines from Your Outdoor Unit
You need a clean 3 feet around your outdoor unit. Trim bushes remove vines, remove leaves, and don't store anything within that 3 foot radius. Most importantly, do not cover your outdoor unit. During a heat wave, your system is working over time and an outdoor unit surrounded by debris is going to work harder.
Check Your Attic Insulation
Standard attic insulation settles about 5% per year. With adequate attic insulation, you can expect minimal mixing of the hot air with your cooling. Appropriate attic insulation will be effective through all seasons, and help keep your upper level comfortable. Guardian offers attic insulation with a 'No Settle Guarantee,' saving you thousands of dollars throughout the life of your home and providing you with preventative steps to increase your comfort.
Use Ceiling Fans - The Right Way
Did you know there is a right and wrong way to use your ceiling fan? Each ceiling fan has a setting to to switch the direction of the air flow. During the heat wave summer months, you ceiling fan should be blowing in a counter clockwise direction. This will force the air downward, making you feel cooler. While this doesn't necessarily cool the room, it does make your skin feel cooler with the breeze.
Limit Indoor Cooking
During the main summer months, you should avoid cooking a seven course meal! Utilize your outdoor kitchen or grill to keep the temperatures cool inside. Try pre-planning meals with salads, grilled vegetables and meats, or crockpot meals. If you must cook inside, try to cook before the heat of mid-day or after the temps start to fall for the evening.
Use High Efficiency Lighting
Traditional 100 watt light bulbs can increase the heat by 11 degrees in small rooms. Add that to the already high temps during a heat wave and you're sure to be uncomfortable. This is a dramatic increase to your home's temperatures and can cause your system to work harder as you're trying to cool the system. Consider doing your chores and work in daylight hours or switch to LED's which don't give off heat. You'll keep comfortable and save money on your utility bills.
Make Sure You Perform Preventative HVAC Maintenance
It is crucial to have your trusted HVAC technician perform routine maintenance preferably prior to Atlanta heat wave months. Not only are they cleaning off your outdoor unit, but they are also checking all the electrical components, motors and refrigerant charge. Preventative maintenance will assure your AC stays breakdown free during the summer, and will extend the life of your system! It is an absolute necessity to perform maintenance on your HVAC system just like you would change the oil in your car. Guardian offers maintenance plans that provide you with a list of checks to keep you cool all summer long.