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Tips to save air conditioners and bank accounts from suffering in high heat

The new air conditioners at the Turning Point Center that were recently donated and installed after the original ones were stolen after a break in at the Turning Point Center on July 1, 2010, in Houston. (Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As much of Indiana handles a forecast of excessive heat and humidity, experts in keeping homes cool have offered tips to prevent bank accounts from also suffering from the swelter.

Replacing an air-conditioning unit can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars, but avoiding the expense could come down to only a few degrees of difference on a thermostat, says Matt Tyner, the vice president of brand at Williams Comfort Air.

The Indianapolis-based company has a number of tips to keep air conditioning running efficiently during the late-August heat.

The first suggestion is to set the thermostat at a temperature that will not stress the system, which most commonly has been designed to function best at a 20-degree difference from outdoor air.

Tyner explains that directing a unit to cool a home to a temperature less than 75 degrees when the outdoor air is 95 degrees puts unnecessary strain on the equipment.

“A system that cools to 75 degrees is much better than a system that gets overrun and breaks down,” Tyner said.

Another recommendation is to keep window coverings closed both during the day to block sunlight and at night as a barrier from temperatures that have not dropped.

“At night, keeping those window coverings down can help keep heat out if it’s still very hot outside, which is the case this week in Indianapolis, because many people have windows that let in more heat than a home’s walls,” Tyner said.

Other tips from Williams Comfort Air:

  • Managing humidity levels inside with a whole-home dehumidifier with an air-conditioning unit.
  • Avoid adding additional hot elements in the home, such as running hot water in laundry or using the oven or stovetop.
  • Use the air-conditioning system fan settings to circulate air. The “auto” setting on the thermostat is for the blower fan. When switched on, the fan will run constantly and helps cool it down indoors.
  • Check the air filter to keep the AC running all the time, which has been especially important with the recent poor air quality in Indiana.  

Williams Comfort Air has operated in central Indiana for 56 years. Its employees say there are a few observations that customers frequently make that indicate a repair or maintenance is needed.

“One of the most common symptoms we hear from customers calling for air-conditioning repair around Indianapolis is they noticed warm air coming out through their vents. It could be a bad capacitor or a dirty air filter that hasn’t been changed in more than three months,” Tyner said.

“Loud noises like squealing or metal scraping are a sign something with the AC unit is damaged or not working properly. If you see standing water or liquid around your outdoor AC system, that’s another sign your system is in distress. That could be a refrigerant leak or condensation line clog. Both would cause your air conditioner to not run properly.”

Experts have stated that routine checks can help homeowners ward off emergencies in vulnerable weather. Williams Comfort Air recently surveyed Indiana homeowners and found that 60% of people had not had any preventative maintenance on their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the last year.