The cooling ability of your central air conditioner is directly related to the outdoor temperature. An air conditioner is basically a heat mover. Heat energy naturally flows from a hotter zone into a cooler zone — i.e., the interior of your home. As outdoor heat infiltrates the house, the air conditioner extracts that heat and disperses it outdoors. As long as the cooling ability of your AC stays ahead of the rate of heat gain, your house stays comfortably cool.
However, the heat-moving capacity of an air conditioner is limited. A standard central AC can only move enough heat to maintain indoor temperatures around 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature. Heat competes with your air conditioner’s cooling ability in several ways:
- Air leaks. Hot outdoor air finds its way into the house through small structural cracks and gaps, as well as through leaks around doors and windows.
- Sun exposure. Solar heat from the sun radiates through roofing materials and overheats the attic space. This reservoir of extreme heat continuously seeps through the ceiling, raising temperatures in rooms below.
- Window glass. More than 40% of outdoor heat entering the house comes in the form of sunlight streaming through windows.
Preventative measures include scheduling annual professional maintenance on AC components, as well as staying current with routine upkeep like replacing the system air filter at intervals recommended by a qualified HVAC professional. Reducing the rate of heat gain is also important. Suggestions to keep outdoor heat outdoors include:
- Air-sealing the structure. Inspect the house for cracks and gaps that allow outdoor air to infiltrate. Seal smaller cracks with caulking and use insulating spray foam to close larger openings.
- Checking insulation. Contact an HVAC contractor to evaluate the quantity and quality of existing attic insulation. If more is required to meet current recommendations, it can usually be installed atop existing material.
- Shutting out the sun. Close drapes or blinds daily, particularly during the hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Talk to the experts at Jackson & Sons for advice and professional service to support the cooling ability of your central air conditioner.