During summer in New Mexico, temperatures soar. In Albuquerque, the mercury tops 100 a few times a year. In Santa Fe, two-dozen days a year climb above 90 degrees. When the temperature heats up as much as our green chile, your home’s air conditioner works overtime. That can mean it doesn’t work as effectively to cool your home. Read on for seven ways to optimize your AC so you can stay cool all summer.

1. Keep the sun out to optimize your AC.

As much as you may enjoy soaking up the sun, the sun streaming through the windows of your house can dramatically raise the indoor temperature. Just how much it effects the temperature depends on the windows’ direction and alignment. North facing walls experience the lowest heat gain, while west-facing walls draw the most in the afternoon. Solar heat entering through windows has an immediate effect on temperature. To keep from adding to your AC’s workload, keep windows covered with blinds or curtains. You may also wish to install outside awnings to shade windows. The U.S. Department of Energy has several recommendations for the best types of window coverings.

2. Reduce heat-producing activities.

Small activities in your house, from baking in the oven to running your dryer, can increase your home’s temperature. These may raise the mercury only slightly, but each activity adds to the next, which could lead your AC to run longer than needed. Of course, these are also essential activities in your home. You don’t need to stop doing them. You just need to do them strategically. Cook outside whenever possible. It’s grilling season, anyway! And if you cook inside, turn on the range hood while using the stove. If you’re going to run your dryer or dishwasher, do it overnight when it’s cooler outside. Turn electronics and lights off when you’re not using them. All of these easy changes will help optimize your AC.

3. Seal any air leaks.

Did you know that the average home has a hole in it the size of a basketball? That’s about the size of leak homes have if you add up all the cracks and places (such as around doors and windows) where warm air gets in and cool air leaks out. Allowing warm air in can raise the temperature of your home and draw upon your AC more than it would otherwise be needed. To help find these leaks, PNM does a free home energy audit. Once you’ve found the leaks, seal them to prevent further air exchange.

4. Use fans effectively.

Moving air through your home can help — or hinder — your goal to stay cool. For example, ceiling fans are meant to cool people by creating a wind chill effect; they aren’t mean to cool rooms. So, switch off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Using a ceiling fan may allow you to raise the your thermostat temperature up to four degrees without feeling any hotter. Oscillating or personal fans may also help cool you — and your pets — in certain spaces.

Other fans, like kitchen and bathroom fans, can also help vent hot air to the outside and help cool your home.

5. Change your filters quarterly.

Your AC unit can’t operate efficiently with clogged filters. Cleaning dirt, debris, and pollen from the filters regularly or replacing them entirely will help your AC work effectively to cool your home.

6. Use a smart thermostat.

Set your thermostat and forget it — well, mostly. Establishing a set temperature will help your AC work effectively. Employing a smart thermostat will allow you to raise the temperature of your home while you’re away and lower it when you’re preparing to return home. Even small fluctuations — that will keep any pets at home comfortable — can help from over taxing your AC.

7. Look for disconnected ducts.

If you have disconnected or loose ductwork, this could cause up to 40% of the cool air your AC unit is creating to escape. This inefficiency can cause your AC unit to work hard to maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature.

8. Maintain your AC properly.

To cool efficiently, your AC needs to be maintained. Deferring maintenance can cause your system to work harder, cool less effectively, and lead to costly repairs in the long run.

How Aztec Mechanical Can Help

Our expert technicians maintain a variety of home and commercial heating and cooling systems. We can optimize your AC so you can escape the summer heat. Contact us today to get started.