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How to Avoid Overworking Your AC in a Heatwave

When those Gainesville summer heatwaves roll in, your poor air conditioner gets put through the wringer just to keep your home comfortable. All that overtime can really take a toll, leading to higher energy bills, expensive repair needs, and even total system breakdowns if you’re not careful.

We get how brutal those stretches of extreme heat can be on your cooling equipment. That’s why we’re sharing some simple tips to help take the strain off your AC unit when temperatures are scorching. From quick adjustments to bigger projects, a little preventive effort goes a long way in protecting your system and keeping those utility costs from going through the roof.

Ready to learn how to beat the heat without overworking your AC into an early retirement? Let’s dive in!

Cooling Services - AC

Understanding the Strain on Your AC

Your air conditioner is designed to keep your home cool and comfortable, but it has to work extra hard when outside temperatures soar into the 90s or triple digits. The hotter it gets, the more strain on the compressor as it runs nearly continuously trying to extract heat from your home’s air. 

This excessive workload puts major stress on all the internal components – from the refrigerant lines to the condenser coils. It’s a recipe for premature breakdowns if you’re not careful. Overheating, frozen coils, refrigerant leaks, and compressor failures become far more common when your system is being maxed out day and night.

On top of that extended run time, your AC also has to work harder to achieve your desired indoor temperature the hotter it gets outside. That means consuming far more energy and sending your utility costs skyrocketing if you’re not taking preventive steps.

So before diving into ways to ease the burden on your cooling system, it’s important to understand just how taxing those heatwave conditions can be. With some simple adjustments and home modifications, you can prevent that expensive strain and keep your AC running reliably all summer long.

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

When heatwaves strike, the last thing you want is a cooling system that’s not running at peak performance. That’s why keeping up with regular AC maintenance is so crucial – it ensures your unit is ready to handle those scorching summer demands without getting overwhelmed.

At a minimum, you’ll want to have an HVAC professional inspect and tune up your air conditioner every spring before intense heat arrives. This allows them to thoroughly clean the system, check all components, and optimize performance so it can run as efficiently as possible under maximum strain.

Part of this process includes properly cleaning and replacing air filters. Clogged, dirty filters force your AC to work harder to draw in enough air, putting extra wear and tear on the blower motor and other parts. Your tech will make sure you’ve got a fresh, unobstructed filter ready for battle.

They’ll also carefully inspect the condition of the evaporator and condenser coils, clearing away any built-up grime and debris that could inhibit heat transfer. Even small amounts of dust can create insulating barriers that make your system work overtime to do its job.

Refrigerant levels get precisely measured and recharged if needed too. Low refrigerant is one of the biggest culprits behind inefficient cooling and excess energy usage. Properly charged lines allow your AC to operate at peak capacity without straining.

Other checkpoints include checking fan motors, testing safety controls, lubricating moving parts, and making any necessary adjustments to ensure everything is in proper working order. It’s an affordable ounce of prevention that pays off big once those heatwave conditions hit.

Optimal Thermostat Settings

We’ve all been there – walking inside from the sweltering summer heat and beelining straight for the thermostat to crank that AC down to arctic levels. But while that cool relief feels amazing in the moment, it’s also putting maximum strain on your air conditioner that could prove costly down the line.

When heatwaves strike, setting your thermostat as low as it can go forces your system to work at 100% capacity nearly continuously as it tries to achieve those unrealistic temperatures. That excessive workload means higher energy bills and increased risks of component breakdowns from the intense run times.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78°F when you’re home during hot summer months. It’s the sweet spot that finds a balance between comfort and efficiency – keeping things cool enough without making your AC labor excessively.

If 78°F still feels too warm, avoid the temptation to just keep lowering the temperature. Instead, try adjusting in smaller 2-3 degree increments to let your system keep up. Or consider supplementing with fans to create a wind chill effect that makes the air feel a few degrees cooler.

When you’ll be away from home for more than 8 hours, nudging the thermostat up by 7-10°F can also provide significant energy savings without sacrificing comfort when you return. Just remember to adjust it back down about an hour before you get back so it’s cool by the time you walk through the door.

Programmable thermostats make it easy to maximize efficiency by letting you set a schedule tailored to your household’s routine. You can have it automatically adjust temps overnight or while you’re at work to reduce those peak cooling demands when heatwaves hit. A few degrees of adjustment makes a big difference in easing strain on your AC unit.

Reducing Indoor Heat Sources

When you’re battling intense heatwaves, the last thing you want is extra sources inside your home generating more warmth for your AC to combat. A little proactive reduction of those indoor heat contributors can go a long way in easing the workload on your cooling system.

One of the biggest culprits is direct sunlight beaming in through windows and patio doors. As those UV rays hit floors, walls, and furniture, they get absorbed as heat that your air conditioner then has to remove. Keeping blinds, curtains, and shades closed during peak sun hours is an easy way to minimize those hot spots.

You can take it a step further by applying inexpensive window tinting or solar films designed to block UV rays before they enter. This creates an insulating barrier that reflects heat away so it never gets inside in the first place.

Another major source of indoor heat gain? Your lighting! Believe it or not, those incandescent bulbs give off an incredible amount of warmth when they’re on for extended periods. Switching to more efficient LED bulbs that run cooler can make a noticeable difference in cooling demands.

Don’t forget about heat-generating appliances and electronics too. Ovens, stoves, washers/dryers, TVs, and computers all create warmth that forces your AC to work harder to offset it. Try to minimize their usage during the hottest parts of the day, and be diligent about turning them fully off when not in use so they’re not giving off any excess heat.

You can even take it a step further by avoiding hot showers or baths during peak heat hours, since that steam gets absorbed into your home’s air. The less heat sources you’re creating indoors, the less strain gets put on your cooling equipment.

Minimizing Appliance Use

Speaking of heat-generating appliances, that’s one area where some simple adjustments can make your air conditioner’s job much easier when heatwaves hit. Anything you can do to reduce the amount of warmth those household helpers are pumping out gives your AC a little breather.

In the kitchen, that means limiting use of your stove, oven, and even dishwasher during the hottest hours of the day. All that cooking and washing creates steam and warmth that your cooling system then has to work overtime to extract. Try to plan meals that don’t require extended oven use, and wash dishes in the evenings once things have cooled off a bit.

The laundry room is another major heat offender, with washers and dryers generating tremendous amounts of warmth and humidity when running. Avoid doing laundry during peak daytime temperatures if possible. If you have to, at least leave the doors open to allow any residual heat to vent outside instead of getting trapped indoors.

Your water heater is constantly working to maintain supplies of hot water for bathing, cleaning, and other uses. But that stored heat can leak out into your home, forcing your AC to work harder to compensate. Insulating any exposed hot water pipes and lowering your tank’s temperature setting a few degrees can make a significant cooling difference.

Even small household electronics like TVs, computers, and video game consoles generate excess heat when running for extended periods. Be mindful of turning them fully off when not in use so they’re not giving off any extra warmth. Or try relocating them to rooms you don’t need to keep as cool.

The less heat is being generated inside your home, the less strain gets placed on your air conditioning system to counteract it. A few simple adjustments to your appliance and electronics routine can provide some much-needed relief when heatwaves are raging outside.

Leveraging Landscaping and Home Modifications

While adjusting your home’s routine and appliance usage helps ease the burden on your AC during heatwaves, you can take it a step further with some strategic landscaping and home modifications. A little investment upfront pays dividends in reduced cooling costs and strain on your system.

Start outside by planting trees, shrubs or vines that provide shading on the sunny sides of your home. This natural barrier prevents radiant heat from being absorbed through walls, windows and roofing. As the vegetation grows and matures over time, it creates an insulating buffer that keeps indoor temperatures lower to begin with.

You can also install awnings or exterior window shades to block direct sunlight from hitting glass surfaces and heating up your home’s interior. Temporary options like retractable awnings let you control shading as needed.

Inside, upgrading to insulated windows and weatherstripping doors/windows prevents cooled air from escaping while blocking outdoor heat gain. New attic insulation and radiant barriers in your roof also reflect heat instead of absorbing it into your living spaces.

For a bigger project, consider adding an insulated coating to your roof itself. These specialized “cool roof” paints and coverings utilize reflective pigments to minimize the amount of heat your roof absorbs from sunlight, reducing cooling needs.

If you really want to get serious, extending overhangs or adding covered patios increases shading around your home while providing comfortable outdoor living areas. Just avoid dark or light-absorbing materials that will radiate heat.

Even something as simple as using fans – both indoor ceiling fans and outdoor patio fans – can allow you to raise thermostat temperatures a few degrees without sacrificing comfort through the wind chill effect they create.

Emergency and Professional Support

Despite your best preventative efforts, sometimes heatwaves can prove too much for an air conditioner to handle, especially if it’s an older, less efficient unit. When you find yourself in an AC emergency as temperatures are soaring, it’s crucial to act fast before things get worse.

First, check for any obvious quick fixes like thermostat issues, clogged filters, or tripped circuit breakers that could be causing the problem. If those don’t resolve it, call for professional repair service immediately. The longer an overtaxed system runs in that compromised state, the higher the risks of internal component damage or full breakdowns.

When you do call for help, be sure to request emergency or priority service if it’s available. Explain the dangerous heatwave conditions so the technician understands the urgency of the situation. See if they can provide any helpful tips for temporary relief while you wait, such as using fans or only cooling off certain rooms.

Once the technician arrives, they’ll quickly diagnose the root issue and outline your repair or replacement options. Be upfront about your cooling needs and budget parameters so they can make expert recommendations accordingly. Depending on your system’s age and condition, a full replacement may prove the most cost-effective long-term solution.

For older homes without central AC, window units or portable air conditioners can provide emergency cooling relief too. They’re not a permanent fix, but a worthwhile temporary measure when heatwaves have you sweltering. Proper sizing and ventilation are critical, so get professional guidance to ensure safety.

The key is acting swiftly at the first signs of AC failure during extreme heat. Don’t allow the situation to escalate into a health emergency for your family. With professional support and some short-term solutions, you can beat the heatwave until permanent cooling gets restored.

Call Snyder for Cooling Relief in Florida

When those brutal summer heatwaves settle in across Florida, keeping your home’s cooling system running smoothly is vital for your family’s comfort and safety. But intense heat puts tremendous strain on air conditioners that can lead to breakdowns, sky-high energy bills, and expensive repair needs if you’re not careful.

At Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical, we’ve been the go-to source for reliable cooling solutions for over 50 years. Our team of experienced HVAC technicians can provide the professional maintenance, emergency repairs, and expert installation services to ensure your AC unit is ready to take on summer’s worst.

From quick adjustments to bigger projects, we’ll work with you to implement smart strategies that reduce the workload on your system and prevent heat-related failures. Because when heatwaves hit, the last thing you need is an AC emergency with temperatures soaring.

We’re here to keep you comfortable all summer long, no matter how high the mercury rises. Stay cool and call Snyder at (904) 747-3053 to ensure your home’s air conditioner is heatwave-ready!

where you’ll find snyder

Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electric serves families across Florida. You'll find our technicians are just a short phone call away in neighborhoods throughout these counties:

    NORTH FLORIDA

  • Alachua
  • Baker
  • Clay
  • Duval
  • Flagler
  • Nassau
  • St. Johns

    SOUTH FLORIDA

  • Broward
  • Martin
  • Miami-Dade
  • Palm Beach
  • St. Lucie

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The service from Sam and Chris was excellent! They were very knowledgeable and professional. They were able to answer all of my questions and completed all of my electrical issues. I will definitely use them again for future jobs. Thank you!

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From the get go I could tell that the Snyder employees were truly professionals and didn’t push to make sales like other companies I’ve talked to my whole life. They took the time to explain so that I could make a decision. The installers and later the duct cleaners were very respectful during their work here. Thank you.

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Snyder Heating and AC is dependable, always on time and techs have always been courteous and knowledgeable. Emanuel was a great addition to the company. He was friendly and knew what he was doing. Thank you for great service.

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Snyder came in and did a total overhaul of our duct system. They had a great knowledge of what to do to make our home so comfortable! The technicians were all so professional and took great care of us! We’re so thankful for their expertise. Great and easy communication with the call center. We will definitely use them again!

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Snyder provided an amazing experience from start to finish. Most of us dread getting estimates with pressuring salespeople. Erik was a great guy, explained all my options and didn’t try to pressure me to act quickly! Justin followed up with my husband and I to offer further assistance in our decision. Again, no pressure, just helped with our follow up questions.

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-Chuck Jr.

Snyder was easy to get in contact with and had availability the next day. Clint came out and needed some parts so had to reschedule us for the next day for installation. He did a great job converting our old 3 knob shower to one. Looks great! Professional and courteous. 100% recommend this company, especially Clint.

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