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How to Clean Your Air Conditioner and Save Money

How to Clean Your Air Conditioner and Save Money

As temperatures rise, so does our need for air conditioners. In fact, 84% of homes in the U.S. have some form of air conditioning installed. But here’s the thing: a dirty AC unit won't just leave you sweating, it will also jack up your energy bills.

The good news? You can take simple DIY steps to keep your air conditioning unit running smoothly and your home comfortably cool. Let’s get into it!

Why Bother Cleaning Your Air Conditioner?

You can think of the air conditioner as the lungs of your home. Just like you wouldn’t want your lungs full of dust, you need to keep your AC unit free of buildup, debris, and grime. Regular cleaning ensures:

  • Improved airflow: Dust, dirt, and debris can build up on air filters and coils, restricting airflow and forcing your AC to work harder.
  • Enhanced air quality: Clean filters trap allergens and pollutants, improving the indoor air you breathe.
  • Lower energy costs: A clean AC system runs more efficiently, saving you money on energy bills. Payless Power reports that energy-efficient models can reduce your cooling costs by 20 to 50%!
  • Prevents breakdowns: Regular maintenance prevents clogs and other issues that can lead to costly repairs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Air Conditioner

1. Check Your Lease: Before diving in, make sure your lease agreement permits you to do some basic cleaning. Most do, but it's always good to check.

2. Focus on the Filters:

  • Locate: Find the air filter access panel (often behind a grille). Systems
  • Clean or Replace: If it's a reusable filter, remove it and wash it with warm, soapy water. If it's a disposable filter, replace it with a new one. Ideally, you should change your filter every three months.

3. Be proactive: Just like you take care of your AC unit with regular cleaning, encourage your landlord to schedule professional maintenance. Only 42% of homeowners do this, so you’ll probably have to ask. Regular servicing, combined with your efforts, extends the unit's life and helps catch problems early.

Window Air Conditioner Units: A Deeper Dive

  • Turn it off and unplug it: Safety first!
  • Remove the outer casing: Consult your manual, but usually, some simple screws need to be removed, so have your screwdriver handy.
  • Clean the coils: Use a soft bristle brush and your vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove buildup from the evaporator coil and condensor coil. If you find bent fins, use a fin comb to straighten them carefully.
  • Boost with compressed air: If you have a compressed air can or compressor, use it to blow out any stubborn dust or debris from the coils. Maintain a safe distance and direct the air away from yourself to avoid dislodged dirt flying into your eyes.
  • Check the refrigerant: While it’s best to leave refrigerant handling to an HVAC technician, you can visually check for signs of leaks around the indoor unit.
  • Wipe it down: Use a damp cloth to clear dust from the outer casing and internal parts.
  • Reassemble: Put everything back in place.

Outdoor Condenser Units (If Accessible):

  • Turn off the power: Find the breaker associated with the HVAC system.
  • Clear debris: Remove leaves, branches, or anything obvious around the outdoor unit.
  • Hose it down: Spray gently with a garden hose to remove dirt and pollen. Avoid using a pressure washer to prevent damaging the fins.

Additional Tips

  • Central air systems: Cleaning central air systems often involves cleaning air ducts, which is best left to HVAC professionals. However, regular air filter changes still apply here — so swap your air filter out every three months.
  • Deep cleaning: For more serious grime on AC coils, you can use a specialized cleaning solution – just follow the instructions carefully. If accessible, consider cleaning the drain pan with hot water and a bleach solution.
  • Don’t ignore the thermostat: Keep your thermostat clear of dust and debris to keep it functioning properly.
  • Know your limits: While these renter-friendly tips help with regular maintenance, always have your landlord call a professional HVAC technician for major problems or if you feel uncomfortable working with any component.

Renters, Keep Your Cool!

Cleaning your air conditioner might not be the most exciting task, but it's a simple way to ensure better air quality, lower bills, and more effective cooling. Remember, regular cleaning is key! Plus, cleaning your air conditioner shows you care about taking care of your space.

The same proactive approach applies to protecting your belongings. Consider renters insurance from Goodcover to safeguard your personal belongings. Get a quote today.


Note: This post is meant for informational purposes, insurance regulation and coverage specifics vary by location and person. Check your policy for exact coverage information.

For additional questions, 
reach out to us – we’re happy to help.

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