Sarah on June 2, 2014 3 Comments Now that summer is heating up, you’ll want to begin your seasonal preparations if you haven’t already. Specifically, you’ll want to get your air conditioner – whether it’s a central, portable, or window A/C unit – ready with our useful summer cooling tips that you can put to good use. The following tips will not only keep you from overheating this summer, they’ll also keep your bank account from overheating from high energy bills. Schedule a Check-Up or Do One Yourself It’s important to make sure that your air conditioner will be up to the task when you need to crank it up full blast on those sweltering summer days. Schedule an annual tune-up for your air conditioner and have a professional perform preventative maintenance, check the refrigerant levels and take care of any mechanical problems your unit might have. Even if your air conditioner seems to be in perfectly working order, it might have small problems that can lead to large utility bills, not to mention even larger repair bills should those small problems turn into big ones. The same goes for window and portable air conditioners. You don’t want the first time you use the unit to be when it’s already sweltering hot outside. While the weather is still somewhat cool, do a few test runs with your unit. That way, you’ll be able to diagnose any issues before you really need the extra cooling power. photo credit Change Your Filters Filter maintenance is the quickest, easiest way to ensure your air conditioner works at its maximum efficiency. Whether you’re using a window, central or portable air conditioner, a clogged filtration system can be just as detrimental to your unit as it is to your air quality. It’s important to check and change your filters on a regular basis, but it’s especially important to change them before the spring and summer seasons. Once a filter becomes too full to function, the dust and other airborne particulates your unit pulls in begin to cling to interior components and obstruct vent openings. All of the extra strain will eventually cause your compressor to work harder and less efficiently. It’s best to pick up extra filters at least twice a year. Use a Stable Temperature Setting Find a temperature that you’re comfortable with and stick to it. The lower the temperature setting, the harder your unit will have to work. Installing a programmable thermostat will go a long way in making sure that your home is always comfortable. On a related note, if your home is sweltering, don’t set the thermostat to the lowest setting in order to cool things down as quickly as possible. All this does is put unnecessary stress on your unit. Simply put the air conditioner on its normal temperature. The same advice goes for portable and window units, especially if it’s your sole cooling source. Don’t wait until it is 100 degrees outside to set the unit to 65 degrees. Find a mild temperature that works for you and set the unit to that temperature before the heat of the day. That way, your unit will have the area already cool when the heat sets in and won’t have to work as hard to keep it cool. Clear the Area Around the Unit Shrubs, debris and plants can lead to unnecessary buildup around the outdoor condenser unit during the summer, which can hamper the flow of air. Make sure that you keep the area around the condenser unit clean and clear in order to help it operate at peak efficiency. For portable air conditioners, be sure that the exhaust hose is not extended to its maximum length. This will decrease the unit’s efficiency. Also, clear any surrounding objects that will hinder the air flow out of the unit. Be sure nothing is pressed against the back of the unit, as well. This will cause the compressor to overheat. Window units should also be cleared of any obstructions to ensure an uninterrupted flow of air. Remove any screens on your window when using a window air conditioner, as well. photo credit Other Ways to Keep Yourself Cool There are other ways that you can keep cool during the summer without having to rely so much on your air conditioning system. If you exercise outdoors, try to change your schedule so that you exercise either early in the morning or during the late evening when it’s not as hot. This will keep you from having to crank up the air conditioner when you get back inside out of the heat. It’s also a good idea to keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge so that you can give yourself a quick spritz whenever you come back into the house after exercising or doing yard work. You could even add a few ice cubes to your spray bottle for a little extra refreshment. Besides a spray bottle of water, it’s also a good idea to keep a moisturizing lotion or cream inside of the fridge so that you can apply it to tired feet after walking around in the summer heat. Make sure that you drink plenty of water on hot days, not only to stay cool, but to also stay hydrated. If you can, try to always have a bottle of water in the freezer so that you can grab it whenever you head out. The melting ice will keep the water nice and cool. Stay away from alcoholic and caffeinated beverages since they can lead to dehydration. Whenever you’re feeling hungry, opt for small snacks and small meals made up of cold fruit or low fat dairy products. By cooking hot food over a hot stove, not only are you overheating yourself, you’re also making your air conditioning unit work harder to combat the higher temperatures. If you do have something going on the stove, it’s recommended to turn on your vent hood to help expel some of the heat. Whether you use a central, portable, or window air conditioner, with these summer cooling tips, you and your home are sure to remain nice and cool this summer season. Recommended Reading: How to Improve Your Home Air Quality 5 Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners 5 Ways a Portable Air Conditioner Can Save You Money How Efficient Are Window Air Conditioners?