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From the Editor: What I learned about air conditioning this month

The hot summer weather is a welcome change from the dreaded winter season, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want (or need!) some relief from it! Air conditioning is a summer necessity, one that literally keeps us cool and aids in preventing heat illnesses. But did you know with help from an A/C expert, you can feel comfortable and save money?! 

Why we need air conditioning

Don’t get me wrong. I love the hot summer weather. The hotter, the better! But when the temperature rises and it’s too hot to enjoy a nice walk or run, I retreat to the indoors and leave a screen door open to relish the outdoor warmth. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the air conditioning unit in my house is running for a fair bit of time. That’s because the lovely heat we crave during the cold and miserable winter months could be potentially hazardous to our health. Here’s an overview of common heat-related illnesses any of us can suffer from if – gasp! – our air conditioning unit breaks down:

Heat exhaustiontemperature

Look out for any of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue;
  • Nausea;
  • Headache;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Confusion/anxiety;
  • Dizziness;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Slowed, weakened heartbeat;
  • Sweating profusely, but feeling cold and clammy at the same time.

Heat stroke

These symptoms are common in someone experiencing a heat stroke:heat related illness

  • Nausea, vomiting;
  • Headaches;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fatigue;
  • Rapid heart rate;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Convulsions.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call a health care provider immediately.

What’s the best way to prevent these heat-related illnesses from happening to you this summer? Keep your air conditioning unit in proper working order! There’s a laundry list of things you need to do to ensure your air conditioner can handle heavy summer use. But before we give you the breakdown, just know that if this seems like too much work for you to DIY, we have a directory of air conditioning technicians who can help you with these routine maintenance tasks!

Air Conditioning Maintenance

Before you can conduct routine maintenance on your A/C unit, it will probably help to see a diagram of the components that make up a unit, right? I had no idea what comprised a unit until I saw this. Take a look:


That big, clunky air conditioner doesn’t seem so intimidating now, does it? Give it the TLC it needs to keep you cool this summer by doing the following:

  • Change dirty air filters. The air filters in your air conditioning unit should be changed every three months. Since they catch lots of dust, dirt and debris, they tend to clog easily, which restricts that cool air from getting back to you.
  • Clean the condenser coil. The condenser coil is responsible for removing heat and moisture from the air that flows into it and pumps out cool air. As it does its job, debris, leaves and dust often gets trapped between the coils, which also obstructs air flow. This video outlines the steps to take to clean the coil:

If you don’t have the time or desire to do the maintenance work yourself, then leave it up to the professionals! Our directory of HVAC technicians are equipped with the knowledge and tools to keep your A/C in working order. Plus, our directory enables you to search for a technician right in your neighbourhood!

Side note: I would totally hire a professional to do the work for me – just in case! I would hate to do something wrong and be left with a broken air conditioning unit!

When maintenance isn’t enough

Whether you DIY or hire a technician, there will come a time when your air conditioning unit has had enough. The key is to identify when those times are in order to prevent being stuck without an air conditioner!

Look out for these signs that your air conditioner needs to be replaced:

  • Constant repairs. Repair after repair, month after month. If you have your HVAC specialist on speed dial, chances are good your air conditioner is broken beyond repair. The money that you’re spending repairing it could be going to a new unit.
  • The unit is anywhere from 10 to 15 years old. Overtime, things just wear out and your air conditioner isn’t exempt. It’s not uncommon for an A/C unit to falter after 10 years of operation. Not only that, but past 10 years, the unit’s efficiency declines. A low efficiency ratio (also known as a SEER rating) is bad for your home’s energy bills because the unit must work harder to cool your home, which costs more money. Take a look:


Do you know if your A/C unit is efficient? Do you even know how old the unit is? If the answer to these questions are no, that’s ok. We can help you out with that! Contact an A/C specialist to inspect your unit. They will be able to tell if the unit is operating at its best, or your home can benefit from an energy-efficient, money-saving unit.

Speaking of saving money…

Whenever I hear my air conditioner turn on, I’m grateful for the relief that’s going to come my way, but I can also hear the sound of a piggy bank shattering in my head. Sadly, it doesn’t take much for anyone energy bill to go up thanks to frequent A/C use.

I’m so excited to tell you that you can stay cool during the hot summer heat wave without spending a fortune. Here’s how:

A programmable thermostat

Why should your air conditioning be running during the day when no one’s home to feel it? That’s the beauty of a programmable thermostat – it enables you to set the household temperature a few degrees higher during the day and lower it when you’re at home and will reap the rewards of cooler air. With today’s technology, there are a ton of neat thermostats on the market. Take a look:

Do yearly check-ups

If your air conditioner isn’t working properly and requires repairs, this could end up costing you more money throughout the summer season. It’s important to have an air conditioning professional inspect your unit on a yearly basis to ensure no repairs need to be conducted. This will preserve the longevity of the unit and keep your wallet lighter.

Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to keep cool in the summer without having to rely on the A/C unit 24/7. When a ceiling fan is turned on, you can lower the temperature on the thermostat, thus saving you money.

Let’s say it costs 12.2 cents per kWh (mid-peak pricing), and your energy bills are roughly $150 a month, then you could be saving a lot more money on an annual basis. Plus, the initial cost of purchasing ceiling fans doesn’t have to be a large expense. You can purchase ceiling fans at a local hardware store for $60 per unit.

Take a look at this breakdown of savings:

Ceiling fans: stylish and functional!

Ceiling fans: stylish and functional!

Now you’re equipped with all the tools and information you need to live comfortably in your home during a heat wave. Don’t forget to consult our database of air conditioning experts to tune up, repair or replace your A/C unit. We still have several weeks of summer left!

More in Air Conditioning

How to maintain your air conditioning unit to ensure your comfort [VIDEOS]

How air conditioning specialists can help you cope with allergy symptoms

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