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Your HVAC system has to work overtime during the hot Sarasota, Florida, summers; so naturally you may have concerns about cooling your home. The last thing you want during the summer is to have your unit break down, and the second-to-last thing you want is your energy bills to spike. You can’t necessarily prevent a broken unit, although you can get preventive maintenance. However, you can help curb other common summer-cooling concerns.

Natural Cooling Options

During the summer months, it’s difficult to keep your carbon footprint low and to stay cool. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to go green when it comes to cooling your home. Opting for natural cooling options helps the environment, and as a bonus, it will also keep your utility bills lower. Start by keeping the curtains drawn during the day to prevent the hot sun from beaming in. Plant shade trees along the side of your house to block the sun as well.

Turn ceiling fans on — but only in the rooms you are in at the time. Fans don’t cool the room; they actually cool your skin, so it’s wasted energy to have them on when you are not there. Add insulation to your home as well, if it’s getting thin. Ventilation isn’t just for the winter. It helps to keep the cool in and the heat out during the summer, just as it does the opposite during the winter. Opting for natural cooling options will help save you money on your bills, put less stress on your HVAC system, and help the environment.

Broken Unit Solutions

It seems like it’s always the hottest day of summer when your unit decides to break down. If your unit breaks down, first make sure there isn’t an easy solution such as a blown fuse or dead batteries in your thermostat. If everything seems fine, call your HVAC contractor to come out as soon as possible. In the meantime, use natural cooling solutions and stay hydrated, or consider going to a friend’s or family’s home.

If your unit is truly broken, discuss your options with your HVAC contractor. Don’t rush into fixing a unit that is chronically broken. You could save time and money by replacing your system if it’s older and will be costly to repair. An older unit is typically not a very efficient unit, and although the cost of a new unit might be scary for some, it will be worth the cost over time with the utility savings.

Indoor Air Quality

When you’re running your air conditioner around the clock, you may not realize the effect it has on your indoor air quality. If you spend much time indoors, you are breathing the same recycled air. Poor indoor air quality is the offender for many ailments, such as headaches, flu-like symptoms, inflamed allergies, and asthma attacks. Although many factors can contribute to poor indoor air quality, your HVAC system might be a perpetrator.

Test your IAQ, especially during the months you tend to stay indoors. All year, you should add strategies to improve your IAQ. Vacuum and dust with a damp cloth regularly. If you have pets, keep them brushed and groomed to prevent excess shedding. Open your windows at night if it’s cooler, and of course, safe to circulate fresh air through your home. Replace the filters in your HVAC unit, and have your ducts checked periodically to make sure excess dust and debris isn’t blowing into your home. These added measures can significantly prevent poor IAQ.

Saving on Your Utilities

It’s no secret your utility bills hike during the summer when you are running your HVAC system more to try to beat the Florida heat. In Florida, it’s difficult not to run your air conditioner during the summer when it’s so hot and humid. However, there are ways to ease your utility bills during the process. Depending on your HVAC system, the first step might be to meet with your HVAC contractor to discuss your system’s efficiency. You may find a different system may be more efficient for your home.

If your system is already ideal for your home, there are other ways to save on your utility bills. Have your HVAC company do a home energy audit to make sure you aren’t losing money throughout your home. Make sure to have your ducts sealed and to keep all your vents open throughout the summer to prevent energy being wasted.

Try to keep your thermostat set a few degrees higher; you may find that you’ll still be comfortable. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, it’s time to install one. Program your thermostat to keep the home cooler while you are home and warmer when you are away. You can also adjust the temperature to change at night as well.

You may also want to consider installing a smart thermostat or a home automation system. Although these thermostats are pricier than traditional thermostats, they allow you to control the temperature of your home remotely. If you’re away on vacation, and it’s uncharacteristically cool, you can adjust the temperature appropriately. Smart thermostats are an investment, but they can save you money and energy on your utilities.

Upgrading or Changing Your System

If your unit was already installed in your home when you moved in, you might not realize it’s not the correct size or the most efficient system for your home. If your system is aging, there could be newer options that weren’t even available or as common when the unit was installed. It’s important to have the correct size unit and the most efficient system for your home and your comfort. If you’re due for an upgrade, talk to your contractor about the many options available.

A ductless system may be a better option for you if you tend to stay in one part of your home more often than the rest. A heat pump may also be a different option if you have a standard HVAC unit in your home. If your system is too small or too big, you could be wasting energy trying to cool your home during the summer. Have an experienced contractor come in and check your current system and discuss different options for upgrading or changing your system for the best fit for your home.

Keeping the Humidity Stable

Any Florida resident knows that humidity is an important issue during the summer. Not only is the humidity a concern outdoors but also inside your home as well. High humidity in your home can cause health concerns, poor IAQ, mold growth, and increased utility bills in trying to cool your home. Fortunately, there are both natural and artificial ways to control the humidity in your home to make sure it’s not too high, and believe it or not, not too low.

Place a dehumidifier in rooms that tend to have more moisture than other areas of your home. Make sure you ventilate the kitchen and bathroom in your home, especially while cooking or taking hot showers. Also, make sure to seal any air or duct leaks throughout your home, and ensure your dryer vents to the outdoors. On especially humid days, you may want to avoid drying clothes altogether.

Be aware that it is possible to overdo it in trying to lower your humidity. Your indoor humidity levels should be around 30 to 50 percent. There are plenty of health risks associated with low indoor humidity as well as high indoor humidity, so make sure you work to keep your humidity levels in that range.

If you have summer-cooling concerns, it’s best to try to ward off issues before they start. We are the experts to call to discuss any of your concerns and how to get through the hot summer with as few issues as possible. Give us a call at 941-306-3715 to speak to an Aqua Plumbing & Air expert or to schedule an appointment for preventive maintenance on your unit.

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