Summer Cooling Guide: Top Air Conditioning Frequently Asked Questions

air cond

The temperature is definitely rising, and now more than ever, people are searching for ways to beat the heat. As the sun blasts, so does your AC unit, so it’s very important that you take good care of it. 

Our technicians at Santa Fe Air always get questions about how to make the most out of an HVAC system, especially when the summer heat turns from fun to unbearable. To help you keep your Kansas City home comfortable (without shoveling money into your energy bill), we’ve created a summer cooling guide filled with the most common questions we receive. 

When should I turn on my AC? 

By this point, you should have already turned on your AC to at least ensure it runs smoothly. We highly recommend people turn on their AC on the first semi-warm day (around 70 degrees). Basically, you just want to ensure that it turns on and reaches the temperature on the thermostat. 

On the other hand, when you officially decide to get the ball rolling is up to you. Some people want to wait out as long as possible before cranking up the air while others would rather start the moment it gets hot outside. The choice is up to you, but again… just make sure your AC works before you wait until July. 

Learn more about when to turn on your AC for the summer. →

What temperature should I set my AC in the summer?

While you’re at home, it’s highly recommended that you set your AC to 78 degrees. Why? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your AC to 78 degrees when you’re home and 7 to 10 degrees warmer while you’re away you can save up to 10% on your energy bill!  

“Okay, but that seems a little warm.”

Very true… we get it. This may be a little warmer than you’d like, especially if you’re used to knocking down that thermostat. The truth is, the closer your inside temperature is to the outside temperature, the more money you’ll save on your bill each month. But hey, if money’s not an issue, do whatever you want! 

For those who are a little more budget conscious, here are a few ways you can stay cool without setting your thermostat too low:

  • Use fans to help circulate the air (only in rooms you’re in)
  • Get heat-blocking curtains 
  • Purchase cooling pillows and sheets
  • Take cold showers
  • Stock up on frozen treats (or frozen fruit for a healthier alternative)

How long should my air conditioner run?

On average, your AC should run for around 15 to 20 minutes per cycle. However, if your AC typically runs for longer or shorter, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. 

There are a few factors that determine how long your air conditioner will run. 

The size of your home: A larger home is going to take longer to cool than a smaller home. So if you have a lot of square footage, your AC may run longer than 20 minutes to meet the thermostat setting. 

The size of your unit: If your unit is too big or too small (compared to the size of your home), that’s going to impact how long it runs. Here’s an example: 

Say your AC is a lot bigger than you need. As a result, it cools your entire house within seven minutes then shuts off. On the surface, this may sound like a good thing, but trust us, it’s not. When your AC doesn’t run for long, this is called short cycling. Your house may be cooling off temperature wise, but there’s a possibility that you won’t feel it. That’s because your unit can’t properly dehumidify your home. And who wants to feel hot and sticky all the time? Not us. 

How low you set your thermostat: The larger the difference between the outside temperature and the temperature you set on your thermostat, the longer it will take for your unit to get there. So if you set your thermostat to 65 degrees and it’s 95 degrees outside, expect it to take a little time. 

Efficiency of your AC unit: If you have an older air conditioner or one that needs repairs, it’s not going to run as efficiently, and you may notice that each cycle takes longer than average.

How can I maintain my AC unit each year?

The best way to maintain your AC unit is by getting a yearly tune up. A tune up is a general maintenance and cleaning plan for your air conditioner provided by an experienced HVAC technician. Before you avoid tune ups all together, consider this: 

  • Tune ups are often required to fulfill your AC warranty
  • Regularly maintained units typically last longer
  • Tune ups often cost less than a repair

Keep in mind that different technicians may perform tune ups differently, but a few things you could expect include: 

Condenser/evaporator coil cleaning: A thorough cleaning of your condenser coils reduces wear and tear while promoting the efficiency of your air conditioner. 

Coolant level check: Proper coolant lubrication ensures all the moving parts work properly to maintain your system’s cooling power.

Thermostat inspection: A broken thermostat can deter your AC’s success. During your AC tune up, expect a full inspection and calibration of your thermostat. 

Ductwork inspection: Oftentimes leaky ductwork could be causing your energy bill to spike. An inspection catches those leaks before they become a huge problem.

Electrical wiring check: During an AC tune up, it’s important to check the electrical wiring to ensure there’s no loose wires that could harm your system. 

Evaluate the blower and blower belt: A technician will inspect the amperage and voltage so blower components perform properly.

Everything You Should Know About Getting an AC Tune Up →

How do I know if I need an AC repair?

If you get yearly tune ups, you’ll probably have an idea of when you need an AC repair. Still, there are a few signs that your unit is acting a little wonky: 

  • Emitting strange odors
  • Blowing hot air
  • Making weird noises
  • Causing excess moisture 
  • Hiking up your utility bill

For those in the Kansas City area, it’s better to be proactive whenever you notice those signs. Santa Fe Air is here to help you with your air conditioning repair needs, and you can always contact one of our technicians for more information. 

Do I need to repair or replace my AC unit?

No one wants to hear this, but if you’re constantly needing replacements, you may need to upgrade your unit all together. Now, this definitely isn’t a bad thing, because once your new AC is up and running, you’d be surprised how much money you could save. 

One of the biggest signs that you need an AC replacement is your unit’s age. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end (sigh), so if your unit is over a decade, it’s probably time to throw in the towel. Think of it as a new starting point. You can either get another unit and call it a day, or you do a complete overhaul and try out a new system such as a zoning system or a split AC unit

How Long Should an Air Conditioner Compressor Last? →

Should my HVAC technician pull a permit for an AC installation?

Yes… absolutely… 100%. Your technician should definitely pull a permit for an AC installation. In fact, in many areas it’s the law. If you’re in the Kansas City area, every city requires a permit for the job. 

Outside of legalities, when a technician pulls a permit, it proves that he or she is the real deal. Every licensed contractor will know to pull a permit; a non licensed contractor may avoid it, which can get you into a lot of trouble. With a permit, a third-party inspector goes back over the installation to ensure everything was done properly. Basically, if your contractor did anything wrong, you’d find out about it right away.

Plus, you should want to get HVAC work done by a licensed professional anyway. That way you get the best results and won’t have to worry about getting more replacements down the road. You always want to hire someone who is qualified to install your new unit, not someone who is just trying to make a quick buck (yes, even if an unlicensed contractor is cheaper). 

Depending on where you live, some consequences of not pulling a permit include: 

  • The technician losing his or her license (if they were licensed in the first place)
  • You could be held liable 
  • Your city may require you to remove HVAC units at your own expense
  • In extreme cases, the city could sue you for not complying with the law

Honestly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. At Santa Fe Air, we always pull permits for our work, because we want to help you, not make your life harder. 

Learn more about our summer cooling guide and HVAC services at Santa Fe Air

If you’re reading to get started with our summer cooling guide but don’t know where to start, don’t worry! At Santa Fe Air, we pride ourselves on knowing all things heating, cooling, and electrical. We’re the best HVAC company in Kansas City, and we help people in the KC and Johnson County areas get the most out of their heating and cooling systems. 

No matter what, our customers receive pristine service each and every time. Through our dedication and care, we ensure we get the job done right the first time—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. 

Since 1987 (yep, you read that correctly!) we’ve provided the best service by treating our customers like family, keeping our word, and avoiding upselling just to catch an extra buck. In the end, you get to make the final decision about what’s best for our home to maximize your family’s comfort; we’re just here to help you get there! 

Get started today with a free online quote. 

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