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How To Improve Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

By September 28, 2020October 9th, 2020HVAC
AC_and_Air_Handler_Efficiency

Recently, while out on an inspection, I stumbled upon the buyer and agent talking about replacing their air handler’s air filters. Together, they were notating all the return filter locations and the sizes of the filters so they could replace them.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, these return vents look like this:

Return Vent

They are squared off vents that help circulate air by returning far away air to the air handler plenum. Without them, the air handler would have a hard time sucking all the air from the rooms farthest away from the unit.

Back to the story, they mentioned replacing all these filters, including the one in the air handler. This is great to keep air filtered, but a waste of money since you are now doubling up on air filters. Additionally, I was able to speak about air handler efficiency by explaining why.

Many people do not know this, but by doubling up air handler filters, you actually can lessen the efficiency of your air handler. This is because your air handler now has to work harder to move the air through two filters.

Because of that interaction, it gave me the idea for this blog! Let’s find out the ways you can improve your air conditioner’s efficiency!

Ways To Increase Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

Use Only One, Clean Air Filter

Just as the story mentioned, you only need one air filter that should be installed right before the air handler unit. See the image below.

air handler filter location

If your air handler does not have an easily accessible filter location, then you might have to replace them in all the ceiling locations. However, that is annoying and too much work in my honest opinion.

I would highly recommend calling an HVAC technician to install one filter location right before your air handler in an easily accessible area. This will make it easy for you to keep up with the filter maintenance.

Keep It Clean

You really do need to replace your air filter at least every 3 months. If there are many people or pets in the home, consider replacing it as much as every month.

Get A Good Air Filter

Getting a good air filter is so important to block dust from reaching the blower in your air handler. Here is a link to one of good quality on Amazon. Be sure to purchase the right size for your unit!

Keep Your Blower Clean

Dust accumulating on the fans of the air handler blower can significantly decrease the efficiency of your air handler.

Air Handler Blower/Fan
Air Handler Blower

I spoke with an HVAC technician while on inspection who was evaluating the A/C system. He mentioned how much dust had accumulated on the fan by not replacing the filter. Furthermore, he mentioned that just a thin layer of dust on your fan can hinder the performance of the fan by about 20% causing the unit to blow less air and having to work harder.

Dust on Air Handler Fan Blades
Air Handler Blower Fan

How to Keep Your Blower Clean

As mentioned above, all you have to do is replace the air filter frequently and use a good filter.

How to Clean Your Blower

If your fan is already dusty, then replacing the air filter won’t do much. To clean your blower, you will have to turn off the A/C and Air Handler breakers, take off the air handler cover, and get too work with a duster/vacuum to get the dust off the blower/fan.

If you are not handy, I would not recommend doing this on your own, so call a professional if you need one.

If you are not handy, I would not recommend doing this on your own, so call a professional if you need one.

Clean Your Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils are after the air filter, but before the blower. These coils are responsible for either heating or cooling your air. Moreover, they condensate and drip water into the pan, which then flows out of your home through a PVC pipe.

Evaporator Coils

If your evaporator coils are dirty, the air handler will have to work harder to blow air. So, to clean them, you purchase a cleaner from Home Depot or Amazon.

How To Clean Your Evaporator Coils

The cleaner you purchase should have directions, but generally you do the following:

  1. Turn off the A/C and air handler breakers.
  2. Expose the Evaporator Coils by removing the air handler covers.
  3. Remove any large items blocking the evaporator coils like dog hair.
  4. Spray the foam on the evaporator coils and let it soak for a few minutes.
  5. Either leave it alone, or use a small brush or rag to remove dust/grim/hair. Be careful not too damage the coils.

Check Out The Video Of Some Crazy Dirty Evaporator Coils!

Keep Your Outside Air Conditioner Clean

The outside A/C system needs to be able to breathe just like you. So, any vegetation or debris near the unit should be removed.

Most A/C manufacturers recommend 2 feet distance between the home and debris. However, there are some exceptions so do not fret if one side of the A/C is within 3 feet of your home.

On top of removing any vegetation and debris, you should hose down your unit with freshwater.

In salt water climates, like Florida beaches, A/C units can become rusty and break by having so much salt in the air. So, to combat this, hosing down your A/C can help increase the lifespan of your unit and keep it running smoothly.

Check Your Ductwork

If your ductwork is older, worn, damaged, or torn, this definitely can lessen the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Most ductwork is in a crawlspace or attic so be sure you are comfortable inspecting it before attempting.

You should be looking for tears, crimped ductwork, and condensation. Basically anything that looks like the cold air (or warm) is not being insulated and carried to its destination perfectly.

HVAC System Age

If your system is older, it may just be time to replace the unit so you can have a more efficient model.

A/C lifespan can vary, but in Florida the average lifespan is 10-15 years.

Have Your A/C Serviced

There are many things your HVAC technician is going to check that I simply cannot talk about in this blog due to their technicality.

An HVAC technician will be able to fully inspect the unit, check freon levels, and see the condition of your ductwork.

Concluding

In southern summers, and northern winters, having an efficiency HVAC system will help you be more comfortable while keep your utility bills lower.

There is much more to improving your HVAC efficiency than mentioned in this article like checking insulation, how well your home is sealed, and the age of your systems.

It might be a good idea to hire a third-party home inspector so you know you are getting an accurate opinion on your system.

Aaron Shishilla

Author Aaron Shishilla

Aaron Shishilla is the youngest registered professional inspector in Florida. Coming from a family-owned home inspection company and now the marketing manager at Waypoint.

More posts by Aaron Shishilla

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