If you own or manage rental properties or provide maintenance services, having efficient air conditioning in summer is a top priority to keep tenants happy and reduce headaches. Here are five Pro tips to make your A/C work well this summer.

Reduce Energy Waste Through Proper Insulation

If you are paying the electrical bills for Centralized air or Window A/C units on the property, you don’t want to throw money down the drain. Before turning on the A/C this summer, make sure your building is properly insulated to avoid energy loss, which translates to wasted money for your business.

First, check the obvious places for energy loss, like seals around doors and windows. Overall insulation of the property will help too, and that saves money year-round. Finally, take a good look at your windows. If they are more than 15 years old, you may want to replace them with thermal windows to reduce cooling loss. Like insulation, this pays off 12 months of the year.

Give Tenants Limited Control Over Thermostats

Controlling the interior temperature may be a sore spot between you and the tenants of the building. Of course you want people to be comfortable, but unless they are paying for their air conditioning utility bills, you have to set limits to how low the thermostat can be set.

There are multiple ways to do this:

  • Control A/C from a central location where the tenants don’t have access.
  • Put locking covers over thermostats.
  • Use a programmable smart thermostats that can be controlled remotely by the tenant and adjusted.

Explain temperature limits to tenants when signing a lease and at the start of each warm weather season. Discuss using setback features within a limited range to raise or lower the temperature when the space is not occupied and during different times of the day when exterior temperatures fluctuate.

Perform Regular Maintenance on A/C Units

While your tenants will have some basic maintenance to perform on their own, like dusting, the equipment will last longer and work more effeciently if you inspect it periodically and perform needed maintenance.

As well as replacing filters, which we'll discuss below, check for the following:

  • The area around compressors, cooling units, and air handlers should be clean and free of debris, such as blowing trash or encroaching shrubbery.
  • Coils on window units (see below) should be cleaned.
  • Likewise, drain channels and tubes should be cleared, especially if hard water leaves mineral scale.
  • Air ducts should be free of obstruction and cleaned periodically for dust buildup.
  • Central HVAC equipment should be inspected at the start and end of each season for cleaning, lubrication, and any issues, like excessive noise.

Consider Window or Portable Units Where Appropriate

In some cases, central air conditioning may not be necessary — or it may need to be supplemented with window or portable units. If the tenant does not have a high or consistent need for central A/C, smaller units can save you money and hassles. If central air conditioning can’t keep up on the hottest days of summer, or if some rooms aren’t used often, window units or portable air conditioners may fill in just fine.

Another alternative is to use through-the-wall A/C or a PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) system. Self-contained PTAC heating and air conditioning is great for:

  • Small apartment buildings
  • Motels and Inns
  • Student residences
  • Sunrooms
  • Additions that have no central duct

Nowadays, PTAC's do not require the installation of condensate pipe draining. This is an excellent alternative to doing construction for central air or when the window style won’t support a traditional window unit.

Use Better A/C Filters — It’s Actually More Cost-Effective

It can be tempting to use the cheapest air conditioning filters available, but this is usually a mistake, as well as not replacing the filters often enough. With superior filtration, you protect your equipment and keep it running more smoothly. Tenants will also be happier with less exposure to dust, pollen, pet dander, food odors, and cigarette smoke.

Fiberglass filters cost less but aren’t as effective at catching fine particles. Pleated filters trap more debris, whether made of polyester, cotton, or paper, and actually last longer even though they cost a bit more upfront.

Generally speaking, thicker filters perform better and require less frequent replacement. In a large property, it may be worth retrofitting your ductwork to accommodate more robust filters. Understand the grading system for filters:

  • MERV – minimum efficiency reporting value, as dictated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • MPR – microparticle performance rating, used by 3M on their filters

The higher the number for both rating systems, the better the filter performs.

With these tips in mind, your air conditioning is bound to work with fewer hiccups and cost you less along the way. You and your tenants can both enjoy the summer and beat the heat with ease.

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