To help you get the best and most economical performance from your air conditioner (room or central), here are a few simple hints to recall as the dog days of summer send the thermometer red-lining skyward.
If your house has an attic, vent it with a fan so that heated air does not seep into living areas.
Use shades and Venetian blinds on windows to keep out sunlight; install outside awnings.
As soon as possible in the evening, shut off air conditioning and use a window fan to pull in cool air.
All duct piping should be well-insulated, especially in high-heat areas such as the attic or in ceiling runs.
Set your thermostat at 78 degrees. Southern California Edison Co. says that raising indoor temperature from 70 to a still-comfortable 78 can mean a 30% savings on your electric bill.
Install tinted windows to help reflect hot sunlight.
Close the fresh-air vent when running a room air conditioner. It will cool more efficiently. Also, on humid days, set the fan speed on low; you will sacrifice some cooling but more moisture should be pulled from the air.
Avoid installing a room air conditioner in direct sunlight. Solar heating of metal parts can slow dissipation of room heat.
If your room air conditioner has plenty of cooling capacity, set up a fan or fans to help spread cooling to other rooms.
Heat from nearby lamps and televisions may be sensed by thermostats, causing air conditioners to run longer than needed. Keep these appliances away from air conditioning controls.
Be careful when turning off air conditioning systems if you have small pets in the house. According to Cheri McCully, a veterinary technician at Grand Avenue Pet Hospital in Santa Ana, 85 degrees is about tops for caged animals such as hamsters and birds. Cats and dogs tolerate heat better, but temperatures much above 90 degrees are not recommended for long periods of time. Older pets or those in poor health will need cooler environments. If you are going to be away from home for the day and it is expected to be a scorcher, set the thermostat accordingly. McCully also warns not to turn on fans for pet cooling while you are gone because of the danger of electrical fires.