Common Causes of AC Inefficiencies and How to Avoid Them

Nobody wants to spend their summer in a hot, humid home. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible to keep your family cool. When this vital appliance isn’t working as well as it should, your home may feel miserable inside, and you may also notice higher energy bills each month. Additionally, your inefficient cooling system may be breaking down, requiring expensive repairs that cause you to dip into your family’s savings.


Fortunately, keeping your air conditioner maintained and running well isn’t difficult. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common causes of AC inefficiencies, as well as what you can do to prevent them.


Dirty air filter

The filter is often installed as part of your heating system. For that reason, many homeowners tend to overlook replacing the filter during the cooling season, mistakenly believing that since the filter is “part” of their furnace, they don’t need to worry about it when the AC is running. Wrong. All air passing through both your heating and cooling systems uses the same blower and ductwork, and passes through the same filter. When the filter is clogged with dirt, dust, pet hair, dander, and other pollutants, conditioned air from your HVAC system has a difficult time getting through your ducts and out into your living space. During the summer, this could cause your air conditioner to work overtime to keep your home cool. Ultimately, this may lead to premature wear and tear on the system, and also cause frequent and expensive breakdowns.


Not only does a dirty air filter jeopardize the efficiency of your home’s air conditioner, but it could also lead to problems for your indoor air quality. Any air that passes through the filter brings with it whatever contaminants are causing the clog. This could pose a problem for anyone in your home who suffers from respiratory issues.


When replacing your air filter, it’s important to choose the right size and MERV-rating for your cooling system’s needs. If you choose a replacement that has too high of a MERV-rating for your AC’s needs, it could restrict air flow even when the filter is clean. If you aren’t sure what replacement you need, check the old filter and write down its specs (or take a picture of them) before going to the store.


Incorrect thermostat settings

Often, a homeowner will switch their thermostat over to “COOL” at the start of summer, set it at a certain temperature, and just leave it as-is until it’s time to switch over to their heating system in the fall. We do not recommend using this technique to cool your home since it can cause your air conditioner to constantly cycle on and off to keep your home’s interior at the temperature you set.


Many homeowners don’t realize that they can cool their space more efficiently by setting the thermostat a few degrees higher during the day when nobody is home, and again at night when everyone’s asleep. This minor adjustment helps the AC to run as efficiently as possible, and it may also save you money on your monthly energy bills!


Pockets of air loss

If it seems like your home is warmer than it should be, even when the air conditioner is running often, this could be an indication that you have an issue with air loss. If there are gaps in your window or door frames, or if you don’t have enough insulation in your walls and roof, conditioned air from your cooling system can escape. Likewise, in this situation, warm outdoor air can also make its way inside. In turn, this can cause your air conditioner to work extra hard, leading to wear and tear and higher energy bills.


To prevent this problem, add extra sealant or insulation in your home where it’s inadequate. You may need to work with an energy auditor and insulation expert to be sure you’re using the right materials for your home’s needs, which will vary depending on where you live.


AC is too small

If you have a cooling system that’s not the right size for your home’s needs, it could be running non-stop to cool your family’s space. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for a very efficient air conditioner, and it may lead to frequent breakdowns from all the extra use. Additionally, it will cause you to have higher energy bills each month. While it may seem like a huge expense to replace your cooling system, it may actually help you save money in the long run.


Work with a cooling professional when choosing a replacement unit. He or she will help determine your home’s cooling needs and assist you in choosing the right unit for your family and budget.


Low refrigerant levels

If your air conditioning system’s refrigerant levels are too low, you may notice that the unit isn’t efficiently providing enough cool air for all rooms and levels of your home. To prevent this problem, schedule an annual tune-up maintenance appointment for your air conditioner.


The technician conducting the tune-up will thoroughly inspect and clean all working components inside your unit to be sure things are operating as efficiently as possible. He or she will also be able to detect low refrigerant levels in the system, and add more if necessary.


Keep your air conditioner running efficiently all summer long!

If you haven’t done so, schedule a tune-up appointment for your home’s air conditioner. At Pivotal Home Solutions, we offer homeowners an affordable Cooling Maintenance Plan to help them keep their systems running efficiently for many years to come. To see if the plan is available in your area, visit us online and enter your ZIP code.