How to optimize your air conditioner's efficiency amid heatwave

Cleaning off your air conditioner with the hose can help optimize efficiency. (FOX 9)

On these hot and humid days, our air conditioning units are working overtime. From inside the home to outside, there are things you can do to keep your family nice and cool.

Dave Radziej from the Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors Association has these tips for homeowners.

Turn on the fan

Radziej says the first thing you should do is check your thermostat to make sure the blower fan is on. The fan helps circulate cool air, and reduces stress on your unit.

"Just think about it, it’s constantly circulating air from the basement up to the second floor and back down," he said. "It’s the most efficient way to use it."

Test your vents

Radziej says you can simply hold a facial tissue up to the vent to see if its pumping air. 

Be sure to test both the intake and return air vents.

Close basement vents

"You should close off your vents in the summertime because you don’t need to cool your basement," said Radziej. "And that will give you more air pressure to push up to the upper floors."

Adjust the dampers

You can help re-direct cool air upstairs by adjusting the dampers. The dampers can be found in the ductwork.

"If you’re not getting enough air upstairs, you can adjust these dampers," said Radziej. "That will push air to different areas of your house."

Check filters

"If you let that filter get clogged, it will be like wrapping that coil with a blanket and the air isn’t going to get through there to cool down," he said. "So you’re going to use more energy, more electricity than you need to."

Hose-off outdoor unit

With the condenser constantly pulling air in to cool it, it is also pulling in lots of dirt and debris. If this debris isn’t cleared away, it will drag down your air conditioning.

"You’ve got to do this a couple of times a year," he said. "Just spray it out, clean it all out as much as you can all the way around."

Radziej warns that you want to power down the unit before turning on the hose.

He says these steps go a long way to keeping your house nice and cool.

Radziej says if you find yourself in the market for a new A/C unit this summer, you’re going to want to pay attention to the SEER number. The higher the number, the better the efficiency, but it will cost you. Of course, it will pay off in the end.