Consumer Reports: Quick fixes to keep your air conditioner working efficiently


CONSUMER REPORTS — With temperatures soaring in many parts of the country and all you need is to cool down, it’s a bad time for your air conditioning to act up.

Consumer Reports says if your window or central AC isn’t cooling like it used to, there are a few fixes you can do yourself while waiting for your repairman and they might even fix the issue! Start with the air filter.

“A dirty filter is a common problem for window and central ACs. It restricts the air flow, which reduces the AC’s ability to cool the room,” said Chris Reagan, Consumer Reports Engineer.

Clean it or replace it yourself, no need for a service call. Window units typically have a reusable filter that you’ll need to vacuum gently and then wash with soap and water about once a month during peak periods. For central ACs, check the manual to see how often yours needs replacing.

You’ll most likely need to replace your filters more often if you have pets because their hair can clog up the filters faster. Another way to maximize efficiency, says CR, is to use weather stripping around window units. This keeps the cool from escaping outside and warm air sneaking in.

Location can also affect a window AC. It has to work harder if it’s placed in a very sunny spot. Keep your shades and curtains closed during the day to keep the sun from adding extra heat to your house. And If the temperature seems off with your central AC, make sure the thermostat isn’t exposed to direct sunlight, which may cause it to register the wrong temperature.

“You also want to be sure that your AC has enough cooling capacitor or power. Take a look at the room it’s going to be in. If your unit is too small for your space, it will never keep up, especially on those super-hot days. On the other hand, if your unit is too large, it might cycle too quickly and not dry out the air and leave your space a little humid.” Reagan said.

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