Busting AC myths: Experts say skip these tricks and try these 5 steps to beat the heat instead

(BPT) – You want your home to be comfortable, especially as summer temperatures soar. However, there is much misinformation on the internet and in social posts that claim to offer tricks that help reduce the heat in your home, but that, in reality, can cause lasting harm to your home’s HVAC system.

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s like the heart of your home, pumping conditioned air where you need it to feel comfortable indoors. Damaging this system can leave you without AC during the dog days of summer, not to mention that fixes can be costly.

Eric Weiss, expert tech trainer at Trane Residential, busts some of these potentially dangerous myths and shares tips to help you safely stay cool this summer by making choices that are better for your HVAC system and for your own home comfort.

Myth: Spray the outdoor unit with water

Fact: One hack making the rounds is spraying the outside unit with a hose for a quick burst of cool air inside. However, this only works temporarily; worse, long-term water exposure can damage the fan and coils. A better choice is having a local maintenance professional proactively clean the system twice a year, ensuring the cooling charge is correct, the coils are clean, and the filter is changed.

Myth: Put an umbrella over the unit

Fact: Ambient temperature is the same outside, in a specific location, whether shaded or not. The shade makes the temperature feel 10-15 degrees cooler than it actually is because you are out of direct sunlight. Therefore, adding shade does not help the unit run better by supplying cooler air. In fact, it may inhibit circulation and trap hot air around the unit, making it work harder to cool your home.

Instead, the DOE recommends ensuring no nearby objects block airflow from your outdoor unit. You can achieve this by keeping the area surrounding your AC clean and debris-free. A good rule of thumb is not to let plants or other wildlife grow within a 2-foot radius of your unit. Plants, trees, or weeds growing too close to your AC could interfere with its functionality. Additionally, if you see things like leaf buildup or animal nests around your unit, you should remove them so they don’t get caught in blades or coils.

Myth: Turn the temperature down for quicker cooling

Fact: Your air conditioning unit works just as hard whether you lower it 3 degrees or 30 degrees — getting to the temperature you want is just a matter of time. A properly sized AC system that maximizes your energy savings may not have enough capacity to drop your indoor temperature by several degrees in the peak summer afternoons or evenings. Reaching a new set point takes time. Use a smart thermostat like the ComfortLinkII XL824 thermostat to help save money by setting schedules and being able to adjust your home temperature remotely.

Myth: Regular vacuuming keeps HVAC air filters clean

Fact: While vacuuming does help collect and remove dirt and grime from the home, it’s still important to change the air filter in your HVAC system at least seasonally (every 30-90 days should do the trick). These filters collect dust and even small particulates you can’t see in the air. Over time they get dirty, restricting airflow, making your HVAC system work harder, and reducing its efficiency in cooling your home.

Myth: Run your AC unit until it dies

Fact: Replacing an air conditioner might be more expensive up front, but running your unit past its expiration date will be less efficient and could cost you money in the long run on repairs. Start saving money on your energy bills sooner by replacing your old unit before it quits on you. One to consider is the XV20i Variable Speed Heat Pump with Trane Link that continuously adjusts its speed to deliver a consistent flow of cool, comfortable air for ultimate comfort and efficiency.