6 Reasons Your AC Is Working So Hard

air conditioner

When outside temperatures start climbing, is there anything better than walking into a cool, air-conditioned room? It’s comfortable and pleasant – that is, until you get your electric bill, and see that all of that cold air comes at a big price.

It’s not just your wallet that can take a hit when you’re running the AC all day and all night. The air conditioner itself can lose efficiency and start to have trouble when it has to work so hard. You might notice, for instance, that even though you’re running the machine, it’s not blowing as much cool air as you need – or none at all.

If your AC is working harder than it should, there could be several reasons for the problem. In some cases, just making a simple change can fix the issue; for others, you may need to call in a professional (just search service for heating and cooling near me to find qualified professionals.)  In either case, addressing the problem will keep your home cooler and reduce how much you spend on power.

If you’re having trouble, take a look to see if it’s due to any of these common problems. 

Thermostat Set Too Low

When it gets hot outside, your first instinct may be to lower the thermostat on the air conditioner to cool off the inside of your home quickly. However, AC thermostats simply provide a “stopping point” for your unit. In other words, if you set your AC for 60 degrees, it will continue to run until the room temperature reaches 60 degrees – and keep running to maintain that temperature.

The room won’t cool off any faster, and by the time it hits 60 degrees, you’re likely to be too cold. By setting the thermostat lower than necessary, you’re only wasting energy, and increasing the load on the machine. Find your most comfortable temperature and keep the thermostat at that level. 

Not Changing the Filter

When the AC is running, it’s sucking in particles of dust and debris. Most of these particles are caught by a filter, but the more you run the AC, the dirtier the filter gets. A dirty filter can increase energy consumption by up to 15 percent, and potentially contribute to damage to the unit. During the summer months when AC is on all day, every day, replace the filter monthly. If you have a window unit, you only need to clean and rinse the filter every few weeks. 

Not Using Fans

Generally speaking, air conditioners work best when combined with fans. Although fans don’t actually cool the air, they circulate it, which can help cool down the room faster. In addition, circulating air helps cool you down by evaporating the sweat on your body, so you can set the thermostat higher. Just avoid running fans in rooms you aren’t in, as that uses more power unnecessarily. 

Leaving the Blinds Open

The sun generates heat, and although you might enjoy letting the sunshine in, it’s also heating up your home. Closing your blinds or curtains during the hottest part of the day can help keep some of the heat out and keep your AC from having to work so hard to cool the room.

Duct Problems

If you have central air and just can’t seem to cool your home, the problem might not be anything you’re doing, but rather what your air conditioning system isn’t doing. It’s common for air conditioning ducts to get loose or become disconnected, causing most of the cooled air to stay in the attic or crawlspace, not the living areas. This is why it is so important to have your HVAC system professionally inspected and maintained annually, as a technician can identify these problems before they disrupt your comfort. If everything seems to be in working order, but you still aren’t getting any cool air, check the ductwork for problems.

Leaky Windows and Doors

Leaving windows and doors open will let all of the cool air out of your home, but they don’t have to be wide open to cause your AC to work hard. Old, drafty windows and doors not only let cold air in during the winter months, but also let cold air out in the summer. If your AC is working hard to cool the space, check your windows, and consider replacements if they are not energy efficient. 

Sometimes, your AC is simply too small or too old to efficiently cool your home, and you need to invest in an upgrade. In many cases, though, you can keep your AC from having to work so hard with some simple fixes and regular maintenance.