We live in a wonderful information age where every fact is at our fingertips and yet certain “facts” are still prevalent. This is true in all walks of life; some “facts” go right back to folklore, and others seem to be ingrained in the modern psyche. Displaying correct information can be an uphill battle because it is necessary to overcome deeply held beliefs. The air conditioning industry is constantly evolving to improve performance and energy efficiency. Yet, despite these advances, many people still base their decisions on information that is outdated or just outright wrong. In this article, we will debunk five air conditioning “facts” and give you the truth to help you make more informed decisions.
- Refrigerant Never Needs Changing
This is a bold statement. It is sort of true, but not really for a few reasons. In an ideal scenario, the refrigerant levels in your AC system would never drop, but practically speaking, this never happens in the real world. Refrigerant acts as the circulatory system for your AC system, it is kept under pressure by the compressor, and it removes heat from inside your home and releases it outdoors. This heat transference is vital, and without it, the AC system simply will not work efficiently. When your AC system was installed, it was charged with the ideal volume of refrigerant. But, leaks in the refrigerant lines can occur, which allow the refrigerant to escape over time.
Another key problem occurs when people try to recharge their refrigerant to “save money”. In many cases, this is not successful because there are different types of refrigerants, and mixing them together degrades their heat transferring properties. This can cause damage to the compressor, and that is an expensive component to replace.
- Choosing a Larger AC System is Always a Better Choice
This is completely untrue. It’s more important to carefully match the size of the AC system to your home. But, that is not the only consideration, and there are other factors that need to be taken into account. A “Manual J Load Calculation” should be carried out by an HVAC professional to find the ideal system size. Many people simply use the square footage of their home and input those details into a free online load calculator. But, it’s important to input other details into an accurate load calculation, such as the orientation of your home, the number of windows, the insulation levels, the layout of your home, and other factors.
Choosing an AC system that is too large or small for your home can create serious problems. An AC system that is too small will run constantly as it struggles to cool the home, driving up the energy bills and overworking the equipment leading to failures and premature replacement. If the AC system is too large, it will cool the home down too quickly and confuse the thermostat leading to an issue known as “short cycling”. This is when the AC system turns on and off again in rapid succession leading to uneven performance and additional strain on the equipment causing it to fail.
- You Can Save Money by Closing Registers and Vents in Unused Rooms
At first glance, this seems to be a reasonable position. Why spend money to heat or cool rooms that are not in use at the moment? In fact, the exact opposite is true; when you close a vent in an unused room, you create pressure changes in your air ducts that can damage your AC system. Every AC system relies on a steady flow of air to distribute treated air throughout the entire home. It’s better to think of your entire home as a connected system rather than approach it as a series of separate rooms. If a vent or register is blocked with furniture, drapes, or it’s been closed because the room isn’t in regular use, the airflow is impeded. This practice can also overwork the blower unit, it will consume more energy, and this will increase the energy bills. Always keep your vents and registers clear and allow the air to flow to every room in your home.
- You Can Cool Your Home Down Faster by Rapidly Lowering the Thermostat
If you adjust the thermostat to lower the temperature faster, you are introducing additional strain on your equipment and driving up your energy bills at the same time. In fact, a home will eventually get cooler, but in reality, cranking the thermostat rapidly, won’t make much of a difference. What it will do is cause your AC system to work harder and for longer periods, which is extremely hard on your equipment. Using your AC system in this manner is a surefire way to wear components out and get an expensive bill for a repair or replacement. When an AC system is running for longer, it will consume more energy, and this will drive up your energy bills. It’s a better idea to adjust the temperature gradually over time using a programmable or smart thermostat.
- Annual HVAC Maintenance is a Waste of Money
Your HVAC system is very complex; it has electrical, mechanical, and electronic components. Some of the mechanical components are moving parts, and the entire system works hard to keep your home cool. Over time every system will degrade to a certain degree, the performance will drop, and the energy efficiency will be compromised. Most AC systems have a useful lifespan of around 15-20 years before they need to be replaced, but regularly serviced equipment will be at the upper end of that estimate. Poorly maintained AC systems break down frequently, they don’t work as intended, and they consume a lot of extra energy leading to higher bills. An annual service can also detect smaller issues before they develop into larger problems that cost more to fix. Schedule some annual maintenance before each cooling season, your AC system will run better, it will use less energy, and it will be less likely to fail when you need it most. In fact, when you think about it, annual AC maintenance starts to look like a bargain.