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Air Conditioners: Are you doing these common things wrong? It could be wasting energy

Experts say even on cold nights, don't open your windows because the humidity will flood back in, taking up more energy.

WALKER, Mich. — As the first big heat rush of the season hits West Michigan, many of us will be turning on, or pulling out the air conditioners. 

And whether you use an internal HVAC system, window unit, or another kind of device to cool down, there are some things you may not know you're doing wrong.

Experts at Pro-Tech Heating & Cooling in Walker talked to 13 ON YOUR SIDE about some of the most common problems they see this time of year. 

The first, is a dirty furnace filter.

"People think about changing their furnace filter in the winter, but you need to change them during the summer as well," said Lance Walters, a specialist with Pro-Tech, "because even though it's not heating and blowing hot air, the furnace helps circulate the air for the air conditioner."

Walters also said that for outdoor units, it's important to keep the area around the air conditioner clear of any debris.

"Make sure there are no weeds growing up in it, no grass is choking it out, or any bushes covering it up," he said. "It needs to have good air flow around it."

And this year, Walters said they're seeing a lot more cottonwood floating in the air, and that can get stuck and build up in your air conditioner. 

"Sometimes with the cottonwood in particular, you really need a professional to come help you clean it out," he said.  

Another big issue is understanding the de-humidification that comes with cooling appliances.

"That takes up a huge portion of the capacity of the air conditioner," said Walters, so he recommends keeping your windows shut. 

"Sometimes when it gets cooler out, people will want to turn off the A/C and just open their windows," he explained, "but when you do that, you allow that humidity back into the house again, and it will take a long time to dry things out and remove that humidity that was already cleared."

"So the more you can keep the cool air in and the moisture out is a good thing," he added. 

Another common mistake?

"People will turn their air off or up during the day while they're gone, and expect to be able to turn the air conditioner back down and have it get cool in 15 minutes, but that's not a realistic expectation," Walters explained. "My recommendation is to set a comfortable temperature and leave it alone, especially in these super hot days."

And for all air conditioners, especially window units, Walters said to make sure they're are as clean as possible. 

"If you don't keep that filter clean, you're going to have a challenge with air flow," he said, "but you could also be harboring allergens, and things that could adversely affect your health."

And because condensate forms at the point of air conditioning due to the de-humidification...

"There's moisture there, so on occasion, there can be molds and issues that happen on coils and in those window units so you could be circulating some really funky air if you don't clean the filter," Walters added.

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