One thing we can all count on in and around Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County is that Mother Nature will give us some very hot summer days. Keeping your home cool on a steamy summer day in Michigan can be a challenge, especially if your budget is tight. That time is just around the corner, so let’s get your home ready to keep you and your family comfortable all season long.
Types of Air Conditioners
Knowing what type of air conditioner you have can help you maintain it, and understanding the various types of air conditioners can help you if you are in the market for a replacement.
Start with the Basics: Inspect and Maintain Your HVAC System
Taking care of your home’s air conditioning system is essential to keep it running efficiently (which translates into money in your pocket!). Luckily, there is some preventative maintenance that many homeowners can comfortably do themselves before calling in a professional for the more tricky maintenance or repair tasks.
- Replace air filters. It’s a simple step and the first one you should take to reduce your cooling costs. Filters cost can cost $5-$20 to replace, depending on the type you need, and easily slide in and out of the unit. Having a clean air filter can save you between 5% and 15% of your total cooling costs.
- Be sure any drainage ports are free of clogs. Periodically, send a stiff wire through the drain to help keep it clear.
- Trim the landscaping. Keep trees, shrubs and other landscaping materials at least 18” away from your air conditioning unit and no less than five feet above it. This will ensure that plantings do not interfere with the how the unit functions and allows air to flow around it so that it works at top efficiency.
- Check your thermostat to make sure it is working properly. If it has a battery backup, change it when you change your clocks in the fall.
Room Air Conditioners
If you have a room air conditioning unit that sits in a window, be sure to inspect around the unit and the opening to make sure that it is well sealed and that precious cool air is not escaping. Ensure that drains are clear of clogs and that the unit’s thermostat is in the right position.
Use Ceiling Fans in the Summer
Many homeowners swear by ceiling fans, and for good reason. When ceiling fans are used properly, they can be a huge help in keeping a room comfortably cool. In fact, Energy.gov reports that when you use a ceiling fan, you can lower your thermostat by a whopping 4 degrees!
Regularly dust your ceiling fans and be sure to change the blade direction with the seasons. When you stand under the fan, it should be turning clockwise (reverse) in winter to push warm air back down and counterclockwise (forward) in summer so you feel the breeze below.
Removing moisture from the air is one way to cool your home. Central air systems often do both jobs of removing moisture from the air and cooling it. But, your a/c will be more energy efficient if the moisture is already reduced before it has to do the cooling. In comes the dehumidifier.
Many homes in Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan benefit from having a dehumidifier in the basement or levels of the home that are partly or fully below ground level. Be sure to monitor the collection bucket for accumulated water and empty it frequently to keep the unit from automatically shutting off because it is full.
Having less moisture in the air will definitely make you more comfortable, but allergy sufferers will have another reason to rejoice. Many common allergens thrive in humid environments, so when you reduce the humidity you also reduce those perfect conditions that pesky molds and mildew love. Not only can allergy sufferers breathe a little better when the air is less humid, but all those effects of allergies like rashes, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes can be reduced, too.
Whole House Fans
Some homeowners prefer the whole house fan. This is a unit that draws fresh air into the house through open windows and sends it back out through a port in the attic. Some people find these to work as well as or better than central air conditioning units to cool their home. If you have a whole house fan, you will want to consult with a professional to check it over periodically. Click here to learn more about whole house fans.
And More Tips on Keeping Your House Cool
Even if you don’t have central air conditioning or another system to cool the air inside your house, you can take some other steps to keep your home cooler on hot days. There are many great tips on this topic. Here are some of the easiest that you can try right away:
- Keep the house closed up. Keep doors and windows closed during the day to keep the hot air out. Opening the windows on a hot day lets in the heat, usually without generating any form of breeze.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed on windows that get direct sun. This will shield the room from the sun’s hot rays.
- Plant trees on the east or west side of your house, or both. This will help to shield part of your house during the hottest times of day.
- Don’t cool rooms that you don’t use – close the vent in that room and shut the door.
- Wait until the evening or overnight to run major appliances that can generate heat, like dishwashers, ovens, and clothes dryers.
- Cook or grill outdoors when possible.
- Ensure that the weatherstripping around your doors is in good shape and doing its job of keeping outside air from seeping in. Check windows for air leaks, too.
- Have a professional check your attic’s insulation and consider adding more if it is determined that yours doesn’t have enough.
- Use high-efficiency CFL or LED lightbulbs which produce less heat than their older counterparts.
- Install sun filtering films on the windows that receive direct sun. There are DIY kits available to accomplish this, but the professional route tends to be most effective and look better.
- Consult with a heating and cooling specialist before replacing or installing a new air conditioning system to avoid getting one that is too big or too small for your space.
Contact Us for Home Improvement Advice
When in doubt about making major home improvements, give us a call. We can refer you to trusted professionals and help you understand the impact of your proposed improvement on the price of your home. Then, when you are ready to list it, you will be in the best position you can be as a home seller. Contact us today. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.