With the summer season coming to a close, it's time to take stock of your air conditioner's performance. It's likely that your air conditioner has been running at high capacity all season, so it can use all the maintenance it can get before being retired for the fall and winter months. With these end-of-summer maintenance tips, you can be sure your air conditioner will be up to the task of keeping your home cool and comfortable next summer.

Check and Replace the Air Filter

By now, it's likely that your air filter is completely impacted by dust and debris. A clogged filter can have a number of consequences on your air conditioning system. Not only can it significantly reduce your air conditioner's performance by interrupting its airflow, but it can also negatively impact your indoor air quality by spreading allergens throughout your home.

You should take this time to swap out your old air filter with a brand-new replacement. You might also want to upgrade to a pleated air filter if you're still using your air conditioner's stock fiberglass filter. A pleated air filter with a MERV rating between 7 and 13 offers roughly the same filtration performance as a true HEPA filter.

Clean the Condenser Cabinet and Condenser Coil

Whether they pile up outside or manage to get sucked inside, twigs, grass clippings, and other debris can pose problems for your air conditioner's outdoor condenser cabinet. A dirty condenser cabinet not only reduces your air conditioner's performance but can also create excessive wear and tear that eventually results in a premature breakdown.

In addition to cleaning the condenser cabinet, special attention should also be given to the condenser coil. Left to its own devices, a dirty condenser coil can decrease your air conditioner's cooling capacity while increasing your energy costs.

If you're not planning on using your air conditioning system for the remainder of the year, you can place a breathable mesh cover over the cabinet to protect it from falling leaves and other debris.

Clean the Evaporator Coil and Condensate Drainage System

The evaporator coil inside of your air handler cabinet also deserves special attention. A steady accumulation of dust and debris on the coil fins can block airflow and reduce your air conditioner's performance. By giving your evaporator coil a careful cleaning, you'll be able to maintain your air conditioner's performance while preventing the growth and spread of mold and mildew throughout the unit.

It's also a good idea to check the drip tray located below the evaporator coil as well as the condensate drain plumbing. A clogged drain pipe could allow escaping condensate to back up and spill out of the air handler, and the stagnant water could become a prime breeding ground for algae and mold.

Check and Reprogram Your Thermostat

When it comes to your air conditioner, the thermostat is literally the brains of the operation. It's important to make sure your thermostat not only works properly but is also as accurate as possible. An inaccurate thermostat could result in wasted energy and higher energy costs throughout its lifespan.

You should also program your thermostat in order to take advantage of fall and winter energy savings. A properly programmed thermostat not only keeps your home comfortable but can also help you reduce energy usage and save money in the process.

Invest in a Professional Tune-Up

In addition to performing your own cursory inspection, you should also have your HVAC technician perform a comprehensive tune-up on your air conditioner. A seasoned technician can perform a wide variety of preventative maintenance measures to ensure that your air conditioner operates at peak performance and efficiency.

Your HVAC technician can also spot potential problem areas that can be addressed early to prevent more serious issues later on. A professional tune-up can prevent costly and time-consuming system failures that would otherwise plague your air conditioner.

The seasoned professionals at Holstead's can take care of your end-of-summer maintenance needs. Contact Us when you're ready to schedule service.

Consider The Type Of System

One of the first choices you'll face is the type of air conditioning system your home needs. For the vast majority of homeowners, the traditional split-system central air conditioner is usually the first and foremost choice. If your home already uses an existing split system, then chances are you'll be looking for a direct replacement.

If your home doesn't have enough space to install conventional ductwork, then you might be better off with a high-velocity mini-duct air conditioner or a ductless mini-split system. The former uses a combination of small, flexible ducts and a powerful high-velocity blower to deliver conditioned air. The latter does away with ducts entirely, and instead, relies on multiple compact air handlers installed throughout the home.

Consider Your Home's Size

Size definitely matters when it comes to choosing the best air conditioner for your home. Your home's size can easily influence how much cooling performance your air conditioner needs to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. The cooling needs of a large three-story home will be drastically different from those of a much smaller one-story home.

Air conditioner performance is all about removing heat energy and such performance is usually measured by how many BTUs or British Thermal Units of heat an air conditioner can remove in an hour's time. However, choosing the right air conditioner isn't as simple as installing the largest system with the most BTUs. Choosing an air conditioner that's too large or too small for your home could result in an uncomfortable home, higher utility bills, higher repair costs, and a shorter lifespan for your air conditioner.

The best and most accurate way of sizing up your home's cooling needs is through a Manual J load calculation. This specialized process takes a broad range of factors about your home into account, including its square footage, insulation type and quantity, solar heat gain, and window types. Once complete, your HVAC technician can use the results to select the best air conditioner that offers exactly what your home needs.

Consider The Features You Want

Today's air conditioners come with a variety of features that offer enhanced comfort and convenience. While most air conditioners come standard with a single-speed blower fan, many offer variable-speed blowers that operate at multiple speeds for better comfort and energy efficiency. Some units also feature two-stage compressors that work at a reduced output when cooling demands are light.

Programmable thermostats are another feature to consider. A programmable thermostat can adjust temperatures based on the time of day or week, saving you a bundle on your cooling costs when used properly. Smart thermostats go a step further by adding Wi-Fi connectivity and a self-learning feature that automatically creates programs based on your observed cooling habits and preferences.

Keep in mind that choosing many of these features can increase the cost of your air conditioner. If you're on a tight budget, you may have to choose carefully and decide which features are a must-have and which features you can do without.

Don't Forget About Efficiency

In addition to being in the right size and having the right set of features, your next air conditioner should also be energy-efficient. Making sure your next air conditioner purchase is energy-efficient can help you save plenty of money in the long run.

Fortunately, air conditioners sold throughout the country are required to meet energy efficiency guidelines set by the Department of Energy. Currently, air conditioners sold in Louisiana and the rest of the south must meet a minimum SEER rating of 14.

If you have any questions about finding the right air conditioner for your home, don't hesitate to contact the professionals at Holstead's today.