20 Quick Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Air Conditioner

A couple using their Air Conditioner

Are you trying to get the most out of your Air Conditioner but aren’t sure where to start?

You’re in good company! Air conditioners are a big purchase. We rely on Air Conditioners so much that ensuring we take full advantage of them is key.

I know it can be frustrating to feel like your Air Conditioner can go the extra mile but not know how to help it get there.

But don’t worry, you came for answers, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Below, I’ve prepared an article with 20 quick and easy AC tips and tricks.

To get the most out of your Air Conditioner, cool the space as much as possible in the morning and then rely on the unit to maintain temperature. Check your Air Conditioner regularly, and favor longer, slower cooling, over sudden, intense temperature changes.

Keep reading to make full use of your Air Conditioner!

Why Trust Us? This article was written by Craig Anderson & Alan Stephens.

Craig has helped thousands of homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

Alan is our resident HVAC expert with 20+ years of experience. Holding many HVAC certifications, Alan runs his own HVAC company, Eco Green Air Inc, out of North Carolina.

Tips for Your Air Conditioner

Since 20 AC tips and tricks are quite a lot, I’ve split them into two categories. The first category will cover everything to do with the Air Conditioner itself, and the second will cover a few extra tips and tricks you can implement around your home to help keep the workload on your Air Conditioner down.

A woman reading under her Air Conditioner
Air Conditioners are designed for efficiency, but there’s always something you can do to go the extra mile

#1 Pre-program Before You’re Home

If you’re lucky enough to have an AC with a programmable timer, use it! Don’t arrive home and whack the poor machine on full blast. Instead, let it switch itself on 30 minutes before you’re home and slowly cool down your whole space.

Air Conditioners work best when continuously for long periods, rather than trying to blast-cool an entire room. Some modern thermostats can even learn how long it takes to cool your room down and can switch on to provide fresh living spaces as you arrive home.

#2 Set Your Thermostat High

Find the highest temperature that will still let you feel cool. For every degree you need to drop for cooling, your Air Conditioner has to work increasingly harder.

ACs are intended to only drop an area’s temperature by about 15–25 degrees Fahrenheit. I often tell homeowners to keep room temperature in mind during the Summer, as trying to get even more cooling can overtax the Air Conditioner and shorten its lifespan.

#3 Throw Some Shade

Keep the air conditioner out of the Sun! Placing the unit under direct sunlight is like putting it in an oven and asking it to cool the house. It will work twice as hard and probably not deliver the expected results. If you own a window AC, make sure it’s placed on the West-facing windows of your home, as these get the least sunlight every day.

#4 Let It Breathe

For your Air Conditioner to work properly, ensure it has plenty of free space around it. If it’s a window AC stuck behind your drapes or a portable AC stuck behind a couch, it may just cool down a tiny area and think the job is done!

It’s a good practice to leave a breathing room of about 3–4 inches between the edges of the unit and the surrounding walls/ceiling/floor.

#5 Make Sure All Air Pipes Are Clear

If you’re questioning the Air Conditioner’s efficiency, it’s always worth double-checking that all the supply and return grills are free of blockages.

#6 Change Your Filters

I recommend you change your filters at least once every 3 months. Failing to change the filters can overtax your appliance, hinder its cooling potential, and cause Air Conditioner mold to grow!

#7 Clean Your Coils

As long as you’re maintaining your AC unit by cleaning the filters, it’s also worth checking whether the coils inside it need to be taken care of. Some appliance models might allow you to check the coils without moving them, whereas others must be disassembled for deep cleaning.

#8 Keep the Unit on Low Settings

Air Conditioners work best when operating for longer periods at lower intensities. If you’re just heading out for 30 minutes to 1 hour, just leave the appliance on to keep your living spaces fresh. From what I’ve seen, you can get the most efficiency out of your AC unit by leaving it running rather than turning it on and off as needed.

#9 Give It a Hand

If you need to cool larger spaces or want to cool more than one room, you can always get an additional fan to help move the air more effectively. There are some great cool air models out there that can work as an assistant to your main Air Conditioner.

Tips for Your Home

Now that we’ve covered every possible consideration around the appliance, let’s discuss additional home AC tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your unit.

Believe it or not, something as simple as checking for leaks can make a night-and-day difference.

I’ve written another guide covering a whopping 72 tips to keep a room cool without an Air Conditioner, so if you want more ideas for keeping your home cool for free, make sure to check it out!

A person caulking a window's edge
There are many ways to optimize your home to get the most out of your Air Conditioner

#10 Rise and Shine – Make That Fresh Air Mine!

First thing in the morning, open your windows and let the cool morning air flow through your entire home. Once the afternoon Sun starts raising the external temperature, that’s your cue to your windows and let the air conditioner keep things cool rather than make things cool.

#11 Limit Hot Appliances

Though you may not feel it, using a dishwasher or doing laundry creates a lot of heat. Using many appliances at the same time adds up in terms of room temperature, especially during the afternoon – and before you know it, your Air Conditioner has to dissipate all the excess heat.

Ideally, try to limit any hot appliance use to the mornings or evenings.

#12 Turn off Electronics

As stated above, all electronics produce heat in one way or another. And while some are barely noticeable, others, like chargers, computers, and screens, will have a larger effect over time.

I’m not asking you to go full caveman, but being more aware of the devices you’re running at the same time is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Air Conditioner.

#13 Take Cooler Showers

You might already be showering with cool water, but if other people in your home aren’t, it could become a problem. Unless properly restricted to the bathroom area, the steam from hot showers can raise the temperature of your living spaces and create excess humidity.

High temperatures and humidity can make it extremely hard for your Air Conditioner to keep a cool temperature around the house without overtaxing itself.

#14 Adjust Your Thermostat

If you’re using a smart thermostat, consider the tips on heat settings above. Consider varying the settings of your thermostat with the seasons, and allow for a few degrees of extra warmth in the Summer. Even if you do this, your home will still be much cooler than the temperature outside, but you’ll save your Air Conditioner a lot of extra effort.

#15 Don’t Let the Sun In

When it comes to keeping a room cool, there’s a basic rule. If the Sun’s shining on it, close the curtains. And If it’s just shade, you can keep them open.

Basically, if direct sunlight is coming through the glass and into the room, it will be heating things like a magnifying glass. Whenever you spot direct sunlight coming in, blocking it will keep things cooler.

I tend to find that using white, breathable materials to keep the Sun out works great.

#16 Be Mindful of Vents

If you’re lucky enough to have vents in your home, always make sure to have the ones going to cooler rooms (i.e., the basement) wide open—and shut the vents to any hotter rooms. One air conditioner is typically meant for one room, not the whole house!

#17 Check for Drafts/Leaks

Drafts and air leaks are like vents… however, as opposed to the latter, the former is accidental! Drafty doors and window seals can mean a ton of precious cooling from your Air Conditioner being lost and replaced with heat.

To check for drafts from your windows, light a candle next to a closed, suspicious one and see if it flickers as it would outside in the wind. If there is flickering, apply a sealant to the area where the window meets the wall.

#18 Focus the Cooling

When things are really hot, your best bet is to focus on cooling one specific area. Choose a room, close all the doors, and seal it as best you can. Follow all the tips in this guide, but only apply them to a smaller area.

It’ll take the load off your Air Conditioner and make you way more comfortable.

#19 Mind the Attic

Generally, the largest heat gain for a house is through the roof. Insulating the attic or adding a radiant barrier will immediately make your home cooler. Insulation is one of the most effective cooling methods and can help make your Air Conditioner’s job much easier.

#20 Consider a Home Energy Audit

If you really want to roll your sleeves up, the Natural Resources Defense Council has a fantastic article on how to ‘audit’ the energy in your home. It’s a great guide to ensure you get the most out of your Air Conditioner and all your appliances. It’s a long document, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Wrapping Up

That about sums it up.

Taking full advantage of your Air Conditioner can be great for saving money and having a home that works much better in every aspect. Getting the most out of your Air Conditioner can help make your living spaces cooler while prolonging the appliance’s lifespan.

Thank you very much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If the AC trips and tricks covered here proved helpful and interesting, remember that we have thousands of additional resources you can check out below for daily appliance issues.

Have a great day!

— Craig.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more