ARLINGTON, VA — With summer bringing its hot, sticky days, it’s no surprise that July 3 through August 15 have been dubbed “Air Conditioning Appreciation Days,” a period commonly referred to as “the dog days of summer.” Therefore, the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) wants homeowners to know that “appreciating” or caring for air conditioners can save money and keep equipment operating smoothly throughout the summer.

ARI has developed a list of basic guidelines that contractors can pass along to their customers:

  • Clean and replace the air conditioner’s filter frequently (monthly during heavy use).

  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps should have annual equipment inspections by a trained technician who will check refrigerant and mechanical operations.

  • Keep fallen leaves, grass clippings, foliage, and dirt and debris away from your outdoor unit. And keep the unit’s coils clean, following manufacturers’ instructions.

  • Don’t block vents or ducts inside the house to assure airflow in the home.

  • Caulk and install weather-stripping around windows and doors (especially the attic) to close air gaps.

  • Run fans to keep air moving, so you feel cooler and can cut back air conditioner use.

  • Avoid using the oven during the day. Run the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer in the evening, when electricity rates may be lower and heat from those appliances won’t increase the demands on your air conditioner.

  • Turn off lamps, TV, and other appliances when not in use.

  • Raise the thermostat setting as much as you can without sacrificing comfort. For every degree you raise the setting, you can expect to cut energy consumption by up to 3% to 5%.

  • Consider use of a programmable thermostat to automatically increase or decrease temperatures during the day or night to suit a family’s lifestyle and reduce energy cost.

  • Use shades, blinds, or curtains to keep sunlight out of the house.

  • Keep windows and doors closed when the air conditioner is on.

    ARI has the answers to 42 questions consumers most often ask about central air conditioning systems. Send a self-addressed, stamped business envelope to: ARI, 4100 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22203, and ask for a free copy of “How To Keep Your Cool And Save Cold Cash,” or visit the website at to view an online version.

    Publication date: 06/17/2002