It’s only the end of April and it already feels like summer cannot get any worse. Murphy’s Laws are in operation, as they always are, and the inevitable has happened – my air-conditioner is not working when I need it the most, and neither is the authorised service with which I have signed an annual maintenance contract. While that’s a story in the making, let’s see what we as ordinary consumers can do best to keep our ACs in good condition.

Companies in the business recommend that you have to begin at the beginning – by buying a machine that has a high star labelling so that it’s assuredly energy-efficient, or better still, buy one with inverter technology. The technology helps the compressor run at speeds appropriate to the ambient air temperature, eliminating the stop-start cycles that are characteristic of traditional ACs, and consume a lot of energy. While inverter ACs and higher star-rated appliances cost more, the savings in energy will be your payback.

Lock yourself into a good thing “Many think that if they set the temperature at 18-20 degrees, the room will cool faster. It won’t make much of a difference; 23-24 degrees is a comfortable temperature to extend the life of the product and help in energy conservation,” says Chirag Baijal, Director – Sales, Carrier Airconditioning & Refrigeration. In homes, ACs are replaced only after an average of seven years, so “locking yourself” into buying a product that is low on energy efficiency will be a bad decision, he adds.

The other important, basic thing companies recommend you do to lower energy consumption is clean the AC’s filters. Clogged, dirty filters block the airflow and reduce its efficiency.

Cleanliness pays Vijaya Babu, Business Head – Residential Air-Conditioners, LG India, offers other tips to keep the AC in good condition. Periodical services, especially before you start using the AC and once you pack it for winters, are important. Have it inspected, serviced and cleaned once a year — ideally in the spring — to ensure it operates at peak energy efficiency and is ready to cool your house during the summer. A yearly maintenance check by an authorised service professional can also help.

He also says drain channels should be cleaned occasionally, but thoroughly, with the help of a wire. Outdoor coils are constantly exposed to dust. Coils should be kept clean for more air to pass over them. Ensuring there are no obstructions in front of cooling coil/air supply and behind the condenser coil would lead to more efficient working of your appliance.

“If your air-conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation or it will lead to leakage. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant,” says Babu.

Carrier’s Baijal recommends that those buying ACs should go in for those which use HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) refrigerants rather than HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Given the country’s involvement with the Paris climate talks, the government is putting limits on how much HCFC (R22) India can import, he says. HCFCs’ potential for global warming and ozone depletion raise concerns about their use.

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