In San Antonio, Texas, we’re experiencing record-breaking heat, with daytime temperatures soaring to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Indeed, it’s scorching, and air conditioning systems are being pushed to their maximum capacity to meet the demand for cool air. Here are some important points to understand about operating your AC unit under such extreme conditions.
What you need to know
Air conditioning systems are engineered to match your home’s size and its cooling or heating requirements. The specific size of the AC unit, particularly the condenser, is selected to be effective for about 98% of the usual high temperatures in your local climate. This means that during the 2% of the time when temperatures are extremely high, like the heatwave we’re experiencing this summer, your AC system might seem inadequate. However, this is intentional. If you opted for a larger system that could easily handle the cooling demands of these scorching days, it would be inefficient for the majority of the time, which is not desirable.
A bigger system not only has a higher installation cost but also uses more energy, leading to increased expenses. It cools the house rapidly due to its higher air volume, which might seem beneficial but actually results in the system cycling on and off more frequently. These shorter cooling cycles don’t allow the system enough time to extract humidity from your home, an essential part of an air conditioner’s function. The condensing coil in the AC unit removes water from the air, and the heat exchange process during this action produces the cool air. This cooler, drier air is then circulated in your home, while the warmer, moist air is expelled. Drier air, even if slightly warmer, is more comfortable as it aids our body’s natural cooling mechanism, sweat evaporation. If your AC doesn’t remove enough humidity, it could potentially lead to mold issues.
These factors illustrate why an oversized AC system is generally not a good idea. However, even in extreme temperatures above 100 degrees, you can still effectively use your current system.
To ensure your AC system can effectively cool your home when outdoor temperatures exceed 100 degrees, you need to assist it. We’ve previously compiled a comprehensive list of energy-saving tips related to AC use. Implement as many of these as possible to help your cooling system manage in this heat.
Essentially, it’s about minimizing the heat entering your home. Here are some fundamental tips:
Any measures you take to keep your home slightly cooler means your AC won’t need to run as long for each cooling cycle.
It’s crucial to have your central air system undergo a maintenance check at least once a year. Ideally, your AC unit should be inspected before the summer heat reaches its peak, ensuring it operates at its best when you need it the most. Given the multiple days of 100+ degrees, your AC will be working tirelessly and might require a subsequent check-up after such intense usage.
If you haven’t had your system serviced this year, it’s time to reach out to your AC contractor (for those in San Antonio, TX and surrounding areas, that would be us). However, be prepared for a potential wait, as we tend to be extremely busy during these periods (it seems everyone tends to procrastinate).
At the very least, make sure to check your filters. Clean, fresh filters allow cool air to circulate without hindrance. Even if your filters are only slightly dirty, consider replacing them during this extreme heat. You can always reuse the slightly used filters later when the summer heat starts to subside.