Before the internet became such an integral part of our lives, you could only get solid advice on your air conditioning unit from reputable AC technicians.
Now, with the advent of the internet and the abundance of armchair air conditioning technicians whose knowledge is restricted to reading a few articles from folks who don’t know the difference between a condenser and a coolant, many myths have started circulating the web.
Now, these wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that some of these well-accepted myths can cost you a lot of money. As air conditioning professionals, we’ve heard just about every AC related myth, most of them from our clients who ironically call us when their AC starts malfunctioning because of these myths.
So let’s tear up some of these myths and start saving you money.
Leaving the Fan on Cools Your Rooms
Many homeowners routinely think that because air conditioners and fans have the same function of keeping you cool, that their mechanisms are essentially the same.
So what do they do? They leave their fans on all day, every day to “keep the room cool,” even when they’re not there. Trouble is that they've just wasting electricity.
The reason is that fans simply by circulate the air -- they work in tandem with our body's perspiration to create a cooling sensation. AC’s, on the other hand, work by extracting the heat from the room replacing it with the cool air. While the AC unit will continue to maintain the temperature in an empty home this way, keeping the fans running as well is pointless since there is no one around to feel the air moving.
AC's Can Run for Years Without Maintenance
An air conditioner is a big rugged piece of machinery that only a small number of people really know how to fix -- it's exactly the kind of machine that can quickly become out-of-sight / out-of-mind, in plain spite of how much we rely on it. But there's a real problem with the "if it ain't broke..." mentality.
Think about it for a minute: how frequently do you have your car serviced and your oil changed? Provided all else goes well, you still need new oil, new brakes, new tires -- these things wear with use.
Your AC filter is the oil change you might have once been tempted to forget -- these things are both cheap and easy to get done, and if you don't learn how cheap and easy it is to do it, you'll find out how expensive and uncomfortable it is not to.
In the same vein, having your unit checked by an HVAC technician should be the rain tires you pick up ahead of the summer, especially if your air conditioner is already aging.
You wouldn't expect your car to run forever without any attention, and you need to look at your air conditioning unit the same way.
You Should Leave the AC on to Keep the Home Cool
It's not that there isn't some shred of sense here, it's that this is 2017 and there's a real money-saving solution: buy a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature so your home is only staying as cool as it needs to. These aren't novelties -- this is purpose-built technology to save you money on your power bill, and if they are programmed correctly, your home can be set to cool just before you get home from work.
You Can Seal Air Ducts with Duct Tape
Perhaps somewhat counter to intuition, you can't simply seal around your ducts with duct tape, but you do need to make sure that your home stays as sealed and insulated as possible. The more heat and air can pass in and out of the home, the harder your AC has to work and the more you pay in power bills -- not to mention the effect this has on wear-and-tear.
Vents Should be Closed in Vacant Rooms
Vents are there to help cool air pushed by the AC unit circulate within the home. While the room in question may be unoccupied and you see hinges on the vent, sealing it is going to change the flow of air in your home and air pressures in your ductwork in ways your air conditioner and ducts aren't designed to compensate for on-the-fly. Allowing the AC and ductwork to perform as they were intended to is simply the most efficient way to keep your home cool.