Chances are that if you have an air conditioner, it has been hard at work this summer. And while we appreciate being kept cool and comfortable, especially during hot or humid summer months, we quickly get ‘hot under the collar’ when our air conditioner stops working. What’s worse, it can sometimes be days or even weeks before a repairman can get to us to fix or replace it, depending on what the problem is. By taking extra good care of your unit now you might just prevent problems later. Here are a few tips for extra summer care for your air conditioner. Utilizing them won’t just keep your air conditioner in good working order– it will also help you save money on your next bill!

Change Your Air Filter Regularly: The air filter of your air conditioner helps it run properly. If the air filter is covered with dust, dirt, and grime, chances are your air conditioner can’t do its job–and it may even be sustaining damage internally. As a rule of thumb, you should change the filter of your air conditioner about every three to four months. If you live in a heavy construction zone or if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may consider changing it even more often.

Purchase Pleated Filters: The fiberglass filters found at most home stores are cheaper, but they’re almost never better. Spend the extra dollars on pleated, synthetic filters that do a better job of keeping your air clean and can even last a bit longer than fiberglass filters.

Measure Temperatures at Various Vents: To ensure that your air conditioner is working the way it should, be sure to check the temperature at several different vents. Compare the temperatures of the air blowing out of your vent versus the air that is going into the return vent. If there is not a difference of about 8-10 degrees C, you could have a clogged air filter or your unit could need a recharge. Either way, it’s time for a little routine maintenance to keep your air conditioner healthy.

Keep Your Thermostat Set at a Normal Temperature: A lot of people think that when they set their air conditioner at an obscenely low number, their home will cool down faster. The truth is that setting the number low won’t cool your house off faster–it just keeps your air conditioning unit running longer.

Clean Outside Units Bi-annually: When your air conditioner is outside the home, dirt, dust and even debris can build up on your unit. This will block airflow and may even prevent your air conditioner from properly running. Worse still, a dirty unit is far more likely to need an earlier replacement. To clean your unit, be sure that the electricity to it is turned off. Then, use a wet cloth or your garden hose to wash the unit down, keeping the dirt and debris at bay.

Your air conditioner comes in handy during the hot summer. If you want it to stay in good working order, be sure to follow the above tips. Don’t forget, you can also have a professional come out to inspect your air conditioning unit annually to make sure that everything stays healthy.