Staying Cool In Hot Weather!

In New Orleans, central air conditioners are sized to run 100% of the time when the outside temperature is 92 degrees or higher.  A larger sized system would cool a home at higher outdoor temps but would create a humidity problem. So, how do you stay comfortable when the thermometer hits 100 in July and August?  Try the following suggestions:

  • Clean leaves and debris from the condensing unit.
  • Cut away plants and shrubs so there is a 24" buffer zone between the condenser and the nearest plants because they can block airflow.
  • Clean or change the air filter regularly. Dusty filters make your air conditioner work harder.
  • Close window shades, curtains and drapes where you can during the day.
  • Operate your stove, oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside. They add extra heat to your home and make your air conditioner work harder.
  • Set the air conditioning thermostat two to four degrees cooler than you prefer in the morning in anticipation of warmer temperatures in the afternoon.  When the outside temperature exceeds 92 degrees, most systems will not be able to hold the inside temperature. 
  • Install an automatic setback or programmable thermostat to manage your cooling strategy.
  • Seal leaks around doors and windows with tape or weather stripping.  In the south this is more important in summer than winter.
  • Add insulation in your attic to R-30.  This means 12" of fiberglass.  Check with the manufacturer for R values of cellulose or foam.
  • Use ceiling fans.  A ceiling fan makes air feel cooler.

  • Don't turn the temperature up in the morning and expect your system to cool the house when you get home.
  • Don't run the fan to "ON".  In the summer, fans should be set to "AUTO".  Otherwise, the air conditioner will put humidity back into the house and make it uncomfortable.
  • Don't let an air conditioning company install a larger sized system for two hot weeks in summer. If you want an oversized system, you can and should install a two-stage air conditioner that has extra capacity only when you need it.
  • Don't worry about saving money.  There are times when comfort trumps cost savings.  Let your air conditioner do it's thing in extreme heat.  There are other times to be cost conscious when the high temperatures are below 90.