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10 air conditioning myths that cost you money

Last updated on February 23, 2022

To ensure a good and comfortable night’s sleep during summer, you need lower temperatures and reduced humidity.

Air conditioners are on the top of the purchase list during summer, when many people rush to buy air conditioning units, or if not buying for the first time, they usually want to replace their older models with newer and better ones.

Apart from buying and installing the AC, many people do not go over the manual thoroughly and tend to ignore the unit during its operational lifetime.

Besides the basic operational settings for turning the air conditioner on and off and regulating the temperature and fan speed, the manual highlights key information which assures that the AC maintains a comfortable environment and saves your money and energy on the long run.

Ignoring this information, or worse, following word of mouth or unprofessional advice from untrusted sources can lead to poor operation of the AC unit and eventually to shorter lifetimes.

This article seeks to explore and refute the many myths that surround the operation and maintenance of air conditioners, which often lead to malfunctioning units, higher energy spending and money losses.

What is an air conditioner and how does it work?

An air conditioner is an electronic appliance that cools down the temperature of a room or space by removing heat and moisture from the hot air and blowing cool air inside.

One common type of air conditioner within households and offices is a central air conditioning system which has a single central operating unit that cools down the entire space, another type is the ductless air conditioner, which is specific to individual rooms and helps cool down the room.

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A cold liquid refrigerant is used to extract heat from the hot air from the evaporator. The refrigerant converts into the gaseous phase and passes through the compressor where its temperature is increased.

It enters the condenser where the heat from the refrigerant is removed through the condensation process, completing one full cycle, and the refrigerant – after cooling down – is ready to go through another cycle.

Benefits of air conditioners


  • REMOVE HUMIDITY

Air conditioners not only cool down the temperature of your home but are also important in reducing the general humidity in the environment, which results in a number of health benefits.

Low humidity levels prevent you from dehydrating and prevent the growth of various microorganisms like fungi and mold in your home.

  • GOOD AIR QUALITY

Air conditioners have air filters that filter the indoor air and remove dust particles and bacteria.

This can save you from various bacterial or viral infections, and can create more comfortable interiors for people who are allergic to dust and pollen.

  • PREVENTS DEHYDRATION

Air conditioners cool down the space temperature during hot summers, preventing serious heat related problems like dehydration and heat strokes. In hot and humid weather, people tend to sweat more, quickly depleting inner electrolytes.

  • PREVENTS FROM ASTHMA ATTACK

According to Mayo Clinic, air conditioners reduce the amount of allergens and pollutants like dust particles, molds and pollen grains which can cause asthma attacks.

This reduction is tied to a recommendation to change the air filters every 30-90 days.

10 air conditioning myths that cost you money

1. Setting the temperature lower can cool the space faster

Several people believe that setting the thermostat of the air conditioner at very low temperature degrees can actually cool the house or room faster.

In fact, only if your air conditioner has an option of low/medium/high, can a high setting cool down the space quickly. Otherwise, a low temperature selection will only set the inside temperature at that specific low degree irrespective of the speed.

This is due to the fact that air conditioners operate at a constant rate and setting a low temperature will actually force the unit to operate at a higher capacity, wasting more energy and eventually resulting in a higher electricity bill.

To save your money, you should set the thermostat temperature closer to the outside. According to Australian Energy Regulator, people should set the air conditioner at 23°C to 26°C during the summer to save energy.

2. Turning off air conditioners before leaving can save money

Many of us believe that turning off the air conditioner every time we leave the house can help us save money.

While this is true for long periods of time, as long hours of operation cost more, however, turning the unit on and off continuously over short periods of time is actually energy and money wasteful.

Each time the air conditioner is turned on, it will require a full restart and will eventually use more energy than keeping it on during these periods, which is why it’s advisable to leave the unit on when leaving and returning home regularly during the day.

For convenience, and to lower operating costs, it’s a good idea to keep the AC running and to raise the thermostat temperature when leaving the house, and upon your return to lower the temperature to the desired level. This measure can contribute to energy and money savings.

3. Bigger air conditioners are better

People sometimes believe that a larger air conditioner is better and can cool down the rooms faster and more efficiently.

However, the larger the air conditioning unit relative to the room or space, the more electric energy it will consume.

An oversized air conditioning unit does lower the room temperature rapidly then trips off, however, when the temperature fluctuates, it will turn on again on shorter cycles, which means every time, the compressor has to work harder and consume more electricity.

Additionally, larger units cannot properly decrease the humidity levels, again forcing the compressor to work harder and increasing the electricity consumption further.

It is always advisable to buy and install an air conditioner that is properly sized for your specific space, to provide the needed comfort with proper money savings.

4. No need to clean air filters

Air conditioners not only cool down the space but also purify the air and remove dust and microorganisms through the air filters, which accumulate these particulates over time and can become clogged.

Failing to clean the air filters regularly can adversely affect the operation of the air conditioner.

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Clogged air filters reduce the efficiency of the unit as they require the compressor to work harder to ensure the required airflow, and force the air through the blocked filter.

Additionally, dust particles trapped inside the filters can contribute to polluting the indoor air.

According to the U.S Department of Energy, cleaning the air filters or replacing them with new ones can save energy consumption up to 15%.

Air filters should be changed every 1-3 months depending on the surrounding environment of your house or where you work.

Cleaning the air filters regularly can save you a considerable amount of electricity and consequently can save a significant percentage of the energy bills.

5. Air conditioners don’t need maintenance

Even if you think your air conditioner is running smoothly without any problem, you still need to regularly maintain seasonally or yearly.

Many people use their appliances with no maintenance over the lifetime of the item, up until the appliance shuts off. Even though we are unable to inspect and detect the problems within, machines need to be thoroughly and regularly checked.

Not maintaining your AC can decrease efficiency and performance, and can lead to sudden problems or breakdowns of the unit.

Allocating a maintenance fee on a yearly basis to inspect and ensure the proper operation of your AC pays off in the long run, to avoid having to pay a huge sum for complete repair works or for a totally new unit, when the old one malfunctions.

6. Thermostat installation doesn’t matter

Most people do not pay a lot of attention to the location of the thermostat, however, it is very important to install the unit in a location that does not affect its efficiency.

A thermostat is in fact a heat-sensing device that controls the temperature of the room.

When it detects that the temperature has gone above the set number, it turns the air conditioner on, allowing cool air into the space, and when the temperature is reached, it turns the unit off.

Accordingly, the location of the thermostat in relation to the space is essential for the operation of the AC.

Installing the thermostat in hot areas like the kitchen or on walls with direct sunlight exposure, the thermostat will not work properly and will result in very short or very long cycles, thus increasing the electricity consumption and costing more money.

7. Closing vents in unused rooms

When people do not want to use certain rooms or in order to save money, they often close the vents in those rooms to prevent the room from cooling down and to save energy.

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However, this measure can contribute to higher energy consumption and more money spent.

Closing vents in certain rooms causes an imbalance of the air distribution in the system and in the whole house and effectively exerts more pressure on the air conditioner to operate, which results in operation at a higher capacity and more energy consumed.

It’s advisable to keep all the vents open and allow the AC to run normally, and if you do not wish to cool down all the rooms, it’s better to set the temperature a few degrees higher.

This can save your air conditioner from working harder and can also lead to savings on your electricity bills.

8. Fans help lowering the temperature

A lot of people believe that fans keep the space cool when turned on, no matter if they are air conditioner fans or ceiling fans, however, fans can not lower high temperatures as they are only useful for moving the air around.

If you are sitting in an air conditioned room, and you turn on the fan, its operation will create a windy effect. This will circulate the cool air throughout the room and give an overall cooling sensation.

AC fans circulate cool air within the room, while ceiling fans move the cool air downwards and send the hot air near the ceiling.

Operating fans with air conditioners will only increase the energy consumption, but will do little to lower the temperature.

If you wish to use the fan, and want to save on energy drawn and on the ensuing electricity bills, you can set the thermostat temperature a few degrees higher, and the fan’s operation will swirl the air around the room, giving a cooling sensation.

9. Energy efficient AC can save money

Energy efficient air conditioners use less electricity and energy, which is why many people buy energy efficient appliances to save on their electricity bills.

However, only buying energy efficient air conditioners or other equipment will be of no use if they are not properly operated and regularly maintained. Annual service is necessary to keep your air conditioners running smoothly with less energy consumption.

With innovations and technological advances, appliances and other equipment are now well-structured and functional, however, the complexity of their operation requires thorough and expert checking and maintenance.

Otherwise, these energy efficient air conditioners will not offer you the intended savings and their operation will eventually cost more money than that of traditional units.

10. Thermostat temperature reading is always correct

We mistakenly assume and take for granted that the temperature reading on the thermostat is accurate.

However, we sometimes feel that the temperature in the room is not exactly that which is shown on the thermostat, as the device might display a wrong temperature, or it can have an internal issue with its sensors.

If the thermostat is installed in the area that receives excess heat or direct sunlight, the sensors can misread the overall space temperature due to the effect of the higher surrounding temperature. Additionally, if the thermostat is not calibrated accurately, the temperature reading can be wrongly read or displayed.

When the thermostat is not sensing the temperature correctly, it will not properly control and maintain the temperature of the room, which can result in improper operation of the AC, and effectively more money spent.

That is why it is essential to install the thermostat in a proper location and to keep it calibrated.

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Conclusion


In a nutshell, you should be wary of following untrusted advice or applying measures that are not supported by experts or licensed professionals, as these measures could lead to malfunctioning air conditioning units, wasted energy consumption and unnecessary electrical bills.

Make sure you properly research and learn about the details of the air conditioning system before buying and installing it, and apply expert measures, especially in relation to maintenance, to ensure a smooth, energy efficient and minimized-cost operation.

Munazza Umar

Munazza holds a degree in electrical engineering. She loves writing about energy efficiency, energy hacks, and environmental sustainability.

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