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What's the best way to run your air conditioner in extreme heat?

The longer AC units run continuously, the less efficient they become.
What's the best way to run your air conditioner in extreme heat?
Posted at 6:34 AM, Aug 22, 2023

If your air conditioning isn't keeping up in extreme heat, it doesn't necessarily mean it's broken. Sometimes it's simply too hot to keep up.

"It's just the nature of the beast when it's this hot," said Scott Lara, a service technician for Nebraska HVAC company SOS Heating & Cooling.

He says the longer air conditioning units run continuously, the less efficient they become.

He says it's important the units get rest occasionally. But on days with extreme heat, units set low enough would run continuously without cycling on and off.

"It's just like you and I," Lara said. "If we're out here working like that, we need a break every now and again."

He says if your unit is failing to reach the temperature you have it set to, it's best to increase the setting to the temperature it is reaching. That way, the system will turn off occasionally when the temperature is reached, and efficiency will improve. He says it's more efficient to keep the setting consistent all day rather than increasing the setting when no one is home. That can take a lot of energy to recover, he said.

He said fresh air filters inside and rinsing off the outdoor unit with a hose (after turning it off) help too. Insulation of the home plays an important role, too.

Inside the home where Lara fixed the air conditioning, Erin Chick and her family had an uncomfortable night. The cooling gave out just before bedtime, she said.

"We had all the fans going," she said. "It got up to about 84 degrees."

She said her dog, in need of a grooming appointment, spent a lot of time panting.

Before Lara left, he turned up the setting on Chick's thermostat a few degrees so that the unit will get a break earlier.

"I like to suggest turning it up about five degrees," Lara said. "Let the unit shut off, and then slowly starting bringing in back down, so things don't continuously run."

This story was originally published by Aaron Hegarty at Scripps News Omaha.

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