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Online Air-Conditioning Tips You Should Follow or Avoid

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  • Viral social media posts have led some to get creative about making the most of their AC units.
  • Your AC unit isn’t meant to maintain 60 degrees, according to veteran repairman.
  • Preventative maintenance “ensures peak performance,” according to AC expert.

As the US and UK face blazing temperatures in a record-breaking summer, many are looking online for tips on getting the most out of their air conditioner, but not all hacks are true solutions for your cooling system.

Here’s a list of online tips that Insider researched to label fact or fiction.

1. Putting shade over your AC unit

Photos and videos of outdoor air-conditioning units under the shade of an umbrella went viral across social media platforms as residents tried to keep their systems cool enough to run smoothly. One Texas news outlet took to Facebook to promote the hack and even reported residents saying there was a “very noticeable difference in their cooling and electric bill.”

In a TikTok that’s garnered over 8 million views, a Texas handyman debunked this theory and offered a better solution — cleaning your outdoor unit. He advised residents to “grab their hose” and spray their air-conditioning unit with water to clean out any debris. 

2. Closing vents in an empty room

Closing vents in unoccupied rooms may seem like a simple solution for central air users, but it may be doing more harm than good. This hack forces your unit to work overtime and could lead to duct leakage and pressure imbalance, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Company(PGE).

3. Turning your AC all the way down 

New York Mechanical & Cooling manager Anthony Arnica recommends setting the thermostat to a “normal temperature” instead of turning it all the way down. His exact recommended temperature: 75 degrees.

“Air conditioners are designed to maintain 70 degrees in your home  — not 60, not 50,” Arnica told Insider.

“Set it and forget it.”

4. Changing AC filters

Whether your unit is in the window, wall, or roof, you should be cleaning your air filter, according to Arnica. He recommends monthly cleaning for wall and window units, and cleaning central units every three months.

A dirty filter will cause your air-conditioning unit to work harder, use more energy, and ultimately cost you more, according to the PGE report.

6. Schedule preventative maintenance 

“Everybody always calls when it’s broken,” Arnica said.

He recommends scheduling maintenance semi-annually or seasonally depending on your system. In a 2020 report on “AC etiquette,” air-conditioning product expert Mark Woodruff supported preventative measures.

“Scheduling regular preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure peak performance,” Woodruff said. 

7. Closing doors of empty rooms  

Although it’s a common belief that closing off empty rooms will save money on operating a central air-conditioning unit, First Coast News reports that the hack is ineffective and may even cost you.

“Common central air conditioning problems occur when rooms are closed off and air flow through the home is disrupted,”  the U.S. Department of Energy says in a report on energy saving.

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