1. Be reasonable in your expectations: In this region, the summer design temperature for cooling equipment is about 95°. That means when it hits that temperature outside, your AC unit will run full tilt to keep your house cool. Higher outside temps may cause your house to be a little bit warmer than what you’d really prefer. Most AC units can only offer a 20-degree difference from outside to inside.
2. Do NOT crank the thermostat down: Leave it set where you normally have it. Moving the dial from 76° to 72° will not change the temperature of the air coming out of the registers; it just makes the unit run longer to reach the desired temperature. If your unit is already running full time to keep the house at 76°, moving the dial down will not make the house any cooler.
3. It may not be the equipment’s fault: Leaky ductwork, poor insulation levels, and air leaks in the home’s envelope all contribute to comfort issues. We tend to notice these issues more during the extreme summer heat. Be sure to note areas in your home that are particularly uncomfortable this week so that you can do some further investigation when things cool down. Many modifications related to the home’s envelope don’t cost as much as you might think.
4. Is the filter clean: Take a look and change it or clean it if you even THINK it’s dirty. A dirty filter will slow airflow and make your AC unit work harder than it needs to. That costs you extra money and you won’t be as cool.
5. Close your curtains, shades, or blinds: Keeping the sunshine out will help keep the rooms as cool as possible. If you don’t like feeling like you are in a cave then just close them on the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. If you have south-facing windows you may want to keep them closed all day to keep the heat down in those rooms.
6. Do not block supply registers OR returns: The key to comfort is to keep the air flowing. Move furniture around so that you are not blocking any supply or return registers.
7. Use ceiling fans and/or box fans: Even warmer air feels cooler if it’s moving.
8. Avoid using your dryer and oven in the hottest hours of the day.
9. Check the outdoor unit: Be sure it’s free of grass clippings, leaves, pet hair, and other things. If the fins are plugged up, carefully brush them off. You can also carefully wash them with your garden hose. Having the fins clear allows the air to flow better and the unit to dissipate the heat it is pulling from your house.
And probably the best advice is the hardest: be patient. Getting upset just makes you warmer! So put on on cool, light-colored clothes, drink lots of water and take it easy. And if you have outdoor pets, remember to provide them with lots of water and shade in these “dog days” of summer!