FAQs and 6 AC Tips to Survive A Heat Wave
This is a subject that we get asked about a lot, especially when summer is just getting started, or a heat wave is on its way. Whether you feel like you are baking while trying to organize your garage or sweating your eyebrows off while doing the dishes, you are not alone. At Advantage, our job is to keep your home comfortable all year round. We've got some tips to help you keep your house cool during a hot summer.
First, we’ll also answer some other frequently asked questions about keeping your house cool.
Hot Summer AC FAQs
1. How Much Can AC Cool My Home?
An AC that is of good quality and installed correctly can provide around a 20-degree difference from the ambient temperature if you live in Oregon or the Northwest market. While most HVAC professionals in the Southern markets still recommend following the 20-degree rule, there are area-specific recommendations to help compensate.
That number of course can vary based on how much space you are trying to cool and how efficient the HVAC system is as a whole. For instance, if you have a two-story home, and do not have a two-stage HVAC with zoning, your upstairs will be hotter than someone who does. More on that in our post about cooling your upstairs.
2. Can Hot Weather Damage My AC?
If you’re familiar with machines or electronic systems, you know that heat is not good for the temperamental mechanisms that allow them to work. The same is true for your AC unit, but thankfully, modern systems are durable and resilient. It is unlikely that the ambient temperature will fry your outdoor AC unit. That being said, the increased workload can absolutely damage your AC unit.
3. When Is Too Late To Get A New AC?
The good news is that it’s never too late to upgrade your AC. There are some caveats, though. An install can usually be completed in a half-day, but that is still a half-day that you are without air in your home. There are ways to mitigate that, however:
- Window AC Unit
- Retreat to the Office/Work (if it's air-conditioned)
- Pack the family in the car and go for a day trip
- Go to your local cooling center
At the end of the installation process, you should have an AC unit ready to make your home much more bearable. The other caveat is that the system is not magical and can still only provide 20 degrees of cooling running at peak performance. If it’s 100 degrees outside, don’t expect it to cool things to 69. Set it within that 20-degree difference and gradually cool your home. That way you can keep your house cool and avoid damaging your brand-new AC.
Hot Summer / Heat Wave Tips and Tricks
1. Don’t turn your AC off - ever
When it’s just getting hot or when a heat wave is on its way, set your AC to 70 and let it run. If your home is well insulated, it should keep most of the heat out and keep the cool air in. By keeping it cooler earlier it will make it easier for your AC to keep up for the duration of the heat wave.
2. Don’t Set the Thermostat Below 70
As we mentioned earlier, AC units at the max can provide around 20 degrees of cooling from the ambient temperature. If you set it too far below that, your AC unit is going to struggle too hard for too long to try to cool the air in your home. This can cause your AC unit to freeze, or stress itself and incur damage. The last thing you want in the middle of a hot summer is to have to go without AC while you wait for a technician to come out and fix it.
3. Turn off any Thermostat Programming
While thermostat programming has its place in spring and fall, it can foil your attempts to keep your house cool during a heat wave. By letting your home’s interior get warmer during any point of the day or night, you are going to be making your AC work that much harder to cool it back down. If you set it to a constant temperature and let your AC and insulation work together, it will keep your house cool throughout the day.
4. Keep All Registers and Vents Open
You’re going to want to make sure that you are getting maximum airflow through all parts of your system and the interior of your home. Letting cold air build up in your ducts could damage your HVAC system. The air will move backward in the ductwork and build up pressure. This can cause long-term damage to the HVAC system.
It’s also pretty inefficient if your goal is to cool down the interior of your home. Even closing 1 or 2 ducts could reduce cooling efficiency by 10%-20%. To maximize efficiency, also keep all the interior doors open. Letting air circulate freely will disburse any built-up heat and even out the temperatures throughout your home.
5. Close All Your Blinds
Closing your blinds and curtains, or using blackout curtains if you have them, will prevent the sun from heating the inside of your home. Yes, the sunshine is pretty and fun to look at, but you shouldn’t let the views from your window make the inside of your home feel like a sauna.
6. Use Your Stove / Oven Less
We’re not trying to say order out for every meal or go without, but your stove and oven can heat your kitchen by a good deal. You can keep your kitchen cooler by making a cold meal once or twice a day. You could even just do more toaster-oven or microwave-heated meals. By keeping your kitchen cooler, you’ll be helping your AC keep your whole house cooler.
7. Change Your Filter
This is something you should do year-round. However, during a hot summer or heat wave, you can really feel the effects of a dirty filter. The build-up on the filter can stop airflow and limit the amount of cooling you receive in your home. It also causes cool air to build up inside your system and freeze up your AC or damage the rest of your HVAC system. You can find more on this in our post on how often you should change your air filter.
8. Have You AC Serviced
It's recommended that you have your cooling equipment serviced at least once a year, usually in the Spring. This makes sure that your cooling equipment is running before the heat begins. It also helps to catch refrigerant leaks before they become a problem. If your AC is leaking refrigerant, it cannot cool your house.
Who Are Advantage Heating & Air Conditioning?
We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that gave you the information you need to keep your house cool during a hot summer. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!