The sweltering July heat in New York’s Hudson Valley can send you reaching for the thermostat for extra relief. When the heat and humidity are unusually oppressive at the height of summer, you might seek new tips and tricks on how to increase your indoor comfort level while keeping energy costs manageable. When you implement these ideas, however, it is crucial to be aware of some common myths about summer cooling. These misconceptions can be counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs.
Lower the Thermostat for Faster Cooling
The most common myth about cooling is that the lower you set the thermostat, the faster the air conditioner will cool your space. This is not true and can overwork your HVAC system while driving up your utility costs. The system cools and recirculates the air at a constant rate, which is determined by its fan speed and its BTU rating. BTU is a measure of the amount of heat removed by the system from one pound of air. Lowering the thermostat only adds more pressure on the air conditioner and makes no difference to the speed at which the space is cooled. Some advanced air conditioners have variable fan speeds that correspond to the thermostat setting and can cool the space faster with a lower thermostat setting, but most air conditioners do not have this feature. Instead, using smart thermostats, which can be controlled remotely via an app, can cool your home before you enter it.
Closed Vents Save Energy
A common bit of misinformation that can be harmful to your air conditioner is that if you close the vents in unused rooms, you can save energy by redirecting cooled air only to the rooms being used. This is not how the air conditioner works. Optimum airflow through the ducts is based on all vents being open and accessible. If a vent is closed, cooled air will accumulate in the duct behind it and increase pressure on the system, especially the compressor. The system will continue to try to cool the space and meet thermostat settings. The result is increased wear and tear on the equipment as well as higher energy costs due to prolonged cooling cycles.
Ceiling Fans Cool the Space
Ceiling fans bring comfort and relief from the heat by circulating air within the space. They generate a breeze to alleviate the heavy and oppressive feel of hot and humid air, but they do not cool the air in the room. A common myth is that leaving the ceiling fan on increases cooling. It brings a certain amount of relief if you are beneath it; otherwise, it is just a waste of electricity. It does not augment the cooling ability of the air conditioner.
Bigger Is Better
Air conditioners come in a range of sizes and power ratings to cater to different indoor spaces. The correct air conditioner for your needs will be based on the size of your space. A unit that is too small for your area is a poor choice because it has to work longer cycles and may still fail to cool the space adequately. However, a unit that is too large or powerful can also be a bad choice. It will turn on and off rapidly while cooling unevenly, increasing wear and tear and leading to discomfort.
Heat Emissions From Appliances Are Safe
Electronics only emit a small amount of heat, but they cumulatively add to the ambient heat if they are kept on for prolonged periods. Appliances like ovens, dishwashers, washers and dryers emanate more heat than electronics and significantly impact the functioning of your air conditioner. Being aware of this fact can help you keep ambient heat in check and keep your air conditioning bills manageable. Household appliances should be operated during cooler parts of the day like evenings. Electronics like TVs should be switched off when no one is using them. The thermostat should be installed away from heat-emitting appliances. These practices can help you with overall energy conservation as well.
At WK Mechanical, Inc., we’ve been providing air conditioning services to Middletown and throughout the Hudson Valley since 1945. We are a first-generation, family-owned and -operated company. Apart from HVAC services such as heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair, we provide water treatment services and install and service boilers and generators. Our team is comprised of NATE-certified technicians and we are accredited by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Contact WK Mechanical, Inc. today to schedule an appointment.