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, as they’re not cheap. We rely on them so much, that ensuring that we’re taking full advantage of them is key.

I know it can be very frustrating to feel like your appliance 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 tips to help you maximize the results you’re currently getting from your appliance.

To get the most from an Air Conditioner, cool the space as much as you can in the morning then rely on the unit to maintain temperature. Check it regularly, and favor of long, slow cooling over sudden, intense temperature changes.

Keep reading to make full use of your Air Conditioner!

Tips for Your Air Conditioner

Since 20 tips are quite a lot, I’ve split them into two categories. The first is everything to do with the air conditioner itself, and the second is a few extra tips and tricks you can do 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 that 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 you with 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.

AC’s are intended to only drop an area’s temperature by about 15–25 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind during the Summer, as trying to get even more cooling can overtax your appliance and shorten its lifespan.

#3 Throw Some Shade

Keep the air conditioner out of the sun! Placing the unit under direct sunlight is like placing it in an oven and asking it to cool the house. It will work twice as hard and probably not deliver the results you’re expecting. 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 AC to work properly, make sure it’s got 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 that 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 AC’s efficiency, it’s always worth double-checking that all the supply and return grills are free of blockages.

#6 Change Your Filters

This is pretty standard, but still, here’s your friendly reminder to change your filters at least once every 3 months. Failing to do this can not only overtax your appliance and hinder its cooling potential but also cause Air Conditioner mold to grow!

#7 Clean Your Coils

As long as you’re giving your AC unit maintenance by cleaning the filters, it might also be worth checking whether the coils inside it need to be taken care of as well. Some appliance models might allow you to do this without moving them, whereas others will need to 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 – 1 hour, just leave the appliance on to keep your living spaces fresh. Contrary to popular belief, 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 itself, let’s discuss what changes you can do around your home to help you get the most out of your Air Conditioner.

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 in order 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 that cool morning air flow through your entire home. This is the best chance you’ll get to naturally cool your home all day. 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 and hot water. This all adds up, especially during the afternoon – and before you know it, your Air Conditioner has to dissipate all that 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 may be doing this already, but if other people in your home aren’t it might be a problem. Unless properly restricted to the bathroom area, the steam from hot showers can not only raise the temperature of your living spaces but also create excess humidity.

The combination of these two factors 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, bear in mind 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 whatever the temperature is outside, but you’ll be saving 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’s going to be heating things up like a magnifying glass. Whenever you spot direct sunlight coming in, blocking it will keep things cooler.

If this is a major problem, pick up some white or metallic material to reflect the sunlight.

#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 close shut 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 kind of 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. Should this happen, 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 of 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 make your home cooler almost immediately. It’s one of the most effective cooling methods, and it can help your Air Conditioner’s job a lot 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 make sure you get the most out of your Air Conditioner, and all your appliances. It’s a full, long document, but it’s definitely worth checking.

Wrapping Up

That about sums it up.

Taking full advantage of your appliances 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 this article 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.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more