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When you live where it’s extremely hot for large portions of the year, getting the most out of your air conditioning unit is always a priority. The smallest optimizations of how your AC system operates can add up to huge savings on energy bills when you live in places like Las Vegas or even Atlanta in the summertime. And beyond the electricity costs, you can get a longer service life from your air conditioner by taking some small but impactful steps to maintain the system.

From replacing simple old thermostats with smarter controls to cleaning the air ducts of a central AC system, we’ve gathered 12 tips for making your air conditioning unit work like a dream. Read on to start saving money immediately.

15 Tips For A More Effective And Efficient Air Conditioner

Whether you own a single wall ac unit, a central ac system with numerous condenser units, or a simple ductless mini-split system, you can take steps to improve your air conditioning without punishing your pocketbook. Here are 15 ways to get better performance and longer life from your air conditioning unit.

1. Clean The Condenser Coils And Cooling Fins

Both window air conditioners and central HVAC systems have cooling fins and condenser coils that can become blocked with grime and debris. Keep these system components clean to help it circulate heated air away from your home. You can use compressed air and mild soaps with gentle water pressure to get the job done.

2. Clean All Vents And Air Ducts

Check that your cooling vents are fully open, unobstructed, and pointed in the right direction. If your vents are partially covered by furniture, airflow to the room is too low for proper cooling, making some rooms hotter than others. The same goes for the air ducts of central air systems.

3. Get A Spring Checkup Every Year

It’s wise to call a professional for a check-up on your air conditioning unit every Spring. While not a DIY tip, it’s a cheap way to be certain there aren’t hidden problems that could spell big trouble when the summer heat strikes.

4. Hang Thermal-Blocking Curtains In Every Window

Part of making your air conditioning work better is keeping it from doing so much work to begin with. One way you can do this is by blocking out the heat of the sun coming through windows. Hang thermal-blocking curtains in every window so you can fully control the solar gain coming into your home.

5. Install More Adequate Ventilation On Your Roof

Sometimes builders skimp on extras that can add up to energy savings. One area that often happens is the venting on your roof. Adding higher-performance ventilation systems to draw away the heat that gets trapped in your attic space can help your AC system perform better.

6. Replace Your Simple Thermostat With A Smart One

One of the simplest ways to get more from your air conditioning unit is to replace your simple thermostat with a smart one that enables you to set multiple cooling programs. For example, setting the system to run cooler at night than during the day, and turning up even more when you’re away at work.

7. Clean Or Replace Your Air Filter Every Month

Have you ever looked at the reusable filter on your window or wall air conditioner? If not, you might be surprised to find it’s totally clogged with dust and dirt, making it difficult to cool your home effectively. Most can be cleaned with mild soap and water in the bathtub. For systems with replaceable filters, try replacing monthly rather than quarterly to get maximum airflow.

8. Increase The Insulation In Your Attic

The better your home is insulated, the more cool air you’ll keep in while keeping hot air out. One area to focus your insulating efforts is the attic, where most of the heat from the sun passes through as it beats down on your shingled roof.

9. Apply Solar Film To Your Windows

An often overlooked way to help your air conditioning unit work better is blocking out the sun by installing solar film on your windows. This is an inexpensive and easy to install way to drastically reduce the amount of work your air conditioner needs to do. Second-story windows are most important because heat rises, which makes upstairs rooms tougher to cool.

10. Crank Up Ceiling Fans To Circulate Air

Ceiling fans may seem inconsequential, but they can actually be a tremendous help in homes with high ceilings. These home designs can be harder to cool because of their tendency to trap more heat at the top of the ceiling. Just make sure the ceiling fan direction is set correctly to force air down rather than up to ensure the best air circulation.

11. Check The Intake For Obstructions

Central air conditioning units have intake vents that suck in the warm air from your home and exchange it for cool air. When these intakes are blocked by items stored nearby or furniture, it’s much harder for the AC unit to work as well as it can. Clear obstructions from these vents to get the most cooling power possible.

12. Strategically Plant Shade Trees

A creative and beautiful way to make your air conditioner do a better job is shading your home from the sun with trees. If you hate the idea of your windows always being draped shut to block sunlight, try planting a shade tree to strategically block the sun from coming in at the hottest time of the day. This principle also applies when you have a roof top that’s constantly exposed to the sun’s blistering rays. Find trees that grow quickly and have large canopies of leaves to provide the most shade for your roof.

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We hope this list of tips for making your air conditioner work better can help you conserve energy without sacrificing comfort. For more helpful tips on home improvement, check out the rest of our blog!