Blog

Are you looking for help with projects around the house? Our blog offers helpful tips and DIY videos, or schedule a service appointment today.

How to Test & Improve Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

120 degree Thermometer reading in summer heat

As a homeowner, you'll rely on your air conditioner a lot during the summer months. Although you will want to be using the air conditioner to keep the interior of your home cool, it is important that you know the status of your air conditioner's efficiency

If your AC efficiency is questionable, you will be spending an unnecessary amount of money for little benefit, with higher utility bills offering you no comfort in return. You should regularly check your air conditioner and learn how to perform simple air conditioner tests to make sure that it is properly functioning.

To test your central air conditioning system, turn the AC unit on, place a thermometer on the supply register for five minutes, then check the temperature and compare it to the temperature from the return vent.

Here are the details on steps to test your air conditioner's efficiency

Step 1: Turn the AC unit on

How to test air conditioner efficiency: try it on hot days. The first step in an air conditioner test is to turn on your equipment and leave it running for at least 15 minutes on an 80-degree (or hotter) day. It makes sense to test efficiency before the sweltering heat comes, but you won't truly know your AC efficiency if you don't test it in the right environment. 

Step 2: Place a thermometer on the supply register 

The supply register is intended to do just what it's name suggests: supply cool air through your home. Place a thermometer on the supply register that's closest to your cooling equipment as part of your air conditioner efficiency test. By putting it on the closest register, you're removing the variable of feet traveled when gauging if your AC is performing at peak efficiency. 

Step 3: Keep the thermometer in place for at least five minutes 

A watched thermometer doesn't change. Or something like that. Leave the thermometer in place for at least five minutes before tampering with it. When testing your air conditioner efficiency, you want to give it enough time to get up to speed — but it's also helpful to know how quick it can get to doing its job. 

Step 4: Repeat thermometer reading at the return vent.

The return vent is typically larger in size. This vent is pulling air out of your home and delivering it to your HVAC system. To identify a return vent, hold up a piece of paper to the grates. If the paper is pulled toward the vent, you're in the right place. Leave the thermometer in place here for at least five minutes. 

How do I know if my air conditioner efficiency is good?

If your air conditioning unit is working well, then the air that is coming out should be at least 15 degrees cooler than the air that is coming inside. Should you notice that the machine is not getting your home cool enough, you likely have a leak, or the machine could use a fresh HVAC filter. You will have to take a look inside the machine to determine what the problem actually is.

How to Improve AC Efficiency

If the results of your air conditioner test indicate that your efficiency is subpar, it's time to turn up the heat. No, not that heat. Turn up the heat on HVAC maintenance. These are simple steps you can take to improve AC efficiency. It all begins with a basic understanding of your HVAC system. 

Close doors and windows

Your HVAC system is meant to heat and cool inside your home. Your HVAC unit is working overtime when doors and windows are left open. The fresh air you think you're getting is a hoax. Cool air is leaving your home at a rapid rate, and your air conditioner can't keep up with the warm air coming in. 

Unblock vents

Remember those vents you found when you had a hunch your AC efficiency was questionable? When was the last time they were cleaned? Air flow and air quality are greatly improved when you follow these simple step-by-step instructions on how to clean the air vents in your house

Change your AC air filter

You're still in the hot seat. When was the last time your HVAC air filter was changed? For many homeowners, this is a recurring task that often falls by the wayside until there’s a significant problem with your home’s air quality. The importance of changing your HVAC air filter can't be overstated when it comes to air quality and — you guessed it — air conditioner efficiency

Does your AC perform in the heat of the moment?

Your air conditioner efficiency could be causing all sorts of temperature fluctuations in your home. As you complete your air conditioner test, know that the experts at John C. Flood are ready to help continue the investigation. Whether it's regular maintenance, a tune-up or a potential replacement, contact the air conditioning experts at John C. Flood.