In recent years, severe heat waves have affected more than two-thirds of the lower 48 states. They aren’t a pleasant experience for you, and they’re often hard on your air conditioner too. Severe outdoor heat can push AC components to the limit and compromise efficiency, causing cooling costs to increase markedly. Here are some ways to minimize stress on your air conditioner during heat waves.

Recognize Its Limits

Most residential AC units can only keep the house about 20 degrees cooler than the outdoor temperature. A thermostat setting that is more than 20 degrees below the temperature outside will not make the house any cooler. It will only cause the air conditioner to run extended cycles or even to run nonstop. This imposes stress and wear on critical AC components, such as the expensive compressor. It may trigger a total system shutdown, depriving the home of all cooling.

Be Patient

You can’t cool a hot house any faster by pushing the AC thermostat setting down into the extremely low range. An air conditioner has a finite BTU capacity and can only remove a fixed amount of heat from your house per hour, no matter how low the thermostat setting may be. In addition to stressing the system, extremely low temperature settings may result in over-cooling the home, which wastes energy and raises operating costs.

Leave It on When You Leave

Cooling down a severely overheated house after a long day imposes considerable AC wear and tear. When outdoor temperatures soar, your home may require three hours of continuous air conditioner operation to lower the indoor temperature just 10 degrees. A more cost-efficient approach that also reduces stress on your AC is to leave the system running while you’re gone instead of turning it off. Setting the thermostat for a moderate temperature and allowing the AC to cycle on and off normally during the day maintains a safe, consistent temperature and reduces system wear and tear.

Get more advice about keeping your air conditioner safe — and your home comfortable — during summer heat waves. Contact the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.