With this unseasonably warm spring, I’ve already gotten several calls from clients asking if it is safe to turn on their air conditioners – not the question that I expected during the middle of March! So when can you turn on your air conditioning? A standard system that has the proper refrigerant charge and correct airflow (from good ductwork and a proper fan speed setting on the indoor furnace or air handler) can be turned on at outdoor temperatures at or above 65 degrees. Running a standard air conditioner below 65 degrees and/or with insufficient ductwork or refrigerant charge can significantly reduce the life of the equipment so the best recommendation is to have a trained professional come to your home and perform preseason maintenance to prevent expensive problems in the future and make sure your a/c is running at its max efficiency. Lower electric bills and a cleaner planet, go ahead and hug your polar bear.
If your home or business gets hot even when it’s cooler than 65 outside (multi-unit buildings, lots of east facing windows, or commercial properties), a “low ambient kit” can be installed onto your air conditioner to enable it to operate reliably below 65 degrees. This kit must be installed by a professional and is often specific to each make and model of air conditioner. If your air conditioner is a package outdoor unit (like a rooftop unit) you may be able to get almost free air conditioning with an economizer which will draw in cool outdoor air without running your compressor. The only thing that will be using electricity is the fan motor which uses much less than the compressor. Another great way to lower electric bills and carbon footprint, where’s that polar bear?