Keep your home cool for summer

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Experts say to do your homework before hiring an air conditioning repair company. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Experts say to do your homework before hiring an air conditioning repair company. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Having your A/C serviced every season is a good idea for proper upkeep. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Having your A/C serviced every season is a good idea for proper upkeep. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)

Here comes the heat! Those triple digits we are seeing this weekend is just the start of what's to come. But, there are ways to keep cool and it can start with your home. And you can believe, right now, is a busy time of year for the A/C repair guy, but there are simple things you can do to save money and energy while cooling down your home.

[RELATED: Excessive heat warning in effect for Phoenix metro Sunday]

Inside and out, we get schooled by Mike Donley, owner of Donley A/C & Plumbing. He says the first thing you want to do is block out the sun and pull those shades and blinds closed. He also says one of the biggest mistakes people make and of the questions, he gets asked the most has to do with vents and the circulation of air flow throughout the house.

"If I don't use a room, should I shut the door and close the air off to it?" Donley asks... "And the answer is no," he tells us. Donley explains that you'll get better and much more balanced cooling by leaving all vents and rooms open. And, he says you'll conserve more energy by keeping your thermostat on, without constantly changing it, so it doesn't take hours to cool everything down again.

"When your house warms up four to six degrees," he explains, "everything in the home warms up four to six degrees, not just the air, the carpeting, your walls, your bed. So it takes hours to cool all that back down when you kick the air on. "

To best regulate internal temps, he says replace dirty and clogged filters with new ones, and make sure windows and doors are properly sealed. He also suggests you watch out for hidden cooling waste with your oven's hood fan. "You're sucking out cold air that you paid to cool. Your bathroom vent fans and your clothes dryer does [sic] the same thing."

Ceiling fans should now be set to run counter-clockwise, and before you hire a contractor, Donley says make sure to check them out, or get a referral.

Simple ways to cut your cooling costs

1. Change your air filter

-Our dry, dusty climate can quickly clog your filter, which can lead to higher energy bills and more repairs. It’s a good idea to clean or replace your filter every month.

2. Clearing and cooling the area

-Planting shrubs or trees can provide shade to the A/C unit, which leads to less electricity being used. But, not too close or you’ll restrict airflow. Make sure the area is free of leaves, weeds and debris.

3. Seal the leaks

-The fastest way to save money is to use caulk or weather-stripping on your doors and windows.

4. Set it and forget it

-You won’t conserve energy by constantly changing the thermostat. Set it at the highest comfortable level and leave it. Or, try a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust for times you are away and sleeping. Note: Keep your set back point 4 degrees or less when setting a programmable thermostat. 

5. Run ceiling fans counter-clockwise

-During summer your fan’s blades should rotate counter-clockwise to blow air downward.

-Turn fans off when no one’s in the room.

6. Move the lamps

-Thermostats can pick up the heat from lamps, TVs and appliances so keep them away.

7. Invest in sunscreens

-Keep blinds and drapes closed and install sunscreens to keep the heat out.

The most common A/C meltdowns

1. Noises

-Loose parts, a broken belt, and a dying compressor can lead to banging, grinding and squealing sounds.

-The sooner you catch and repair, the better.

2. Keeps Running

-If it seems your A/C runs a lot, but your home isn’t that cool it could be a sign that your unit is nearing a breakdown.

3. Different Temperatures

-If some rooms are much cooler or warmer than others, it could be a sign that your A/C is not working properly.

4. High Electrical Bills

-Exceptionally high bills can be a key indicator of A/C trouble.

-Clogged filters and a damaged compressor can force the A/C to work overtime and struggle to produce cold air.

5. Old Unit

-Although the Environmental Protection Agency says the average air conditioner lasts 15 to 20 years, in Arizona we generally experience a shorter life span, closer to 12 to 15 years.

-The Environmental Protection Agency is phasing out HCFC-22, also known as R-22. While existing stocks of Freon can still be used for repairs, the EPA will no longer allow it in 2020. You may want to consider replacing an old unit with a more efficient model.

-Regardless of age, properly maintained units that are checked annually by qualified technicians last the longest and run the most efficiently during our summers. 

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