Woman running an air conditioner. Should it operate 24/7?

Should I Run the AC Unit 24/7?

During the hottest part of summer, we rely on air conditioned comfort more than any other time of the year. Sometimes we even leave the cooling on 24/7 during those intense heatwaves.

Although it provides comfort, there is one question that always lingers – should you run your air conditioning constantly in summer?

True, it keeps you cool, but is the unit actually more efficient, and is it actually designed for continuous operation in the extreme heat? The answer here depends on a number of factors.

Can Air Conditioning Keep on Running?

During a hot day, an average air conditioning unit should run for about 15 to 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, the indoor temperature should reach the setting you desire and the unit will turn itself off; at least it will if you have an inverter air conditioner or have auto cooling on.

This is a feature most reverse cycle air conditioners and other systems have.

Therefore, if left running, the air conditioner will then rest until the temperature rises past your setting and it will turn on again, repeating the cycle.

Older units may not have this functionality, though, so they’ll continue to operate at 100% output. This means you end up with a frosty home, rather than a comfortably cooled space.

On a day when the temperature is 30°C or more, your air conditioning system may rarely, or never, turn off. The great news is that this is okay and not harmful to your system. They are designed for ongoing performance during those harsh hot spells.

The issue is often with the overall power supply. Thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, households all doing the same. Rolling blackouts and power outages are common in summer due to high electricity demands.

Still, you can enjoy 24/7 cooling without burning out a well-maintained air conditioner. But the fact is, running your unit all day is going to cost you more.

This is simply because it will always be playing catch-up as the outside heat saps the cold from inside the home. These are unavoidable costs with air conditioning units and the price to pay for comfort.

Energy Efficiency and Affordability Tips

Some energy-efficient systems are designed to run at full capacity all day and night. Some argue it’s the most efficient way to run an AC unit. It is safe to do so, but regular maintenance is even more important because there’s more wear and tear on the system.

Many people believe it’s more efficient to run your air conditioning all day. This is because the unit will never have to work too hard at any given point to cool the home. The internal temperature is consistently hovering around your thermostat settings.

However, if you’re concerned about the potential costs of running your air conditioning unit 24/7, you might want to consider some other factors.

Give Your Thermostat a Tweak

1. Give Your Thermostat a Tweak

If your thermostat is set to “On”, it tells your unit to run constantly without turning off. Make sure it’s set to “Auto”, which tells it to turn off when it reaches the desired temperature. Along with that, make sure you haven’t got the temperature set unseasonably low.

You don’t want the unit struggling to maintain a chilly 15°C when it’s 30°C plus outside. And it does cost more to run an AC unit at a colder temperature. The home climate should be comfortable cool air, not freezing.

2. Get the Timing Right

Choosing to not run your air conditioning all day and night doesn’t mean you have to come home to a sauna. You can set your AC unit to kick in at a certain temperature to make sure your home never gets too hot while you’re not there.

You can also set a timer or use smart technology to turn your cooling on (or deliver warm air in winter) so it’s a pleasant climate when you arrive home.

3. Keep Your Air Filters Clean

Another simple way to make sure your unit is running efficiently is to clean or replace your air filters. A clogged air filter will interfere with the airflow inside your home.

Your AC unit will be forced to work harder and more often in order to reach your desired temperature. And a dirty air filter is just not good for air quality.

How often you change your air filter depends on several factors:

  • Every three months for a home with no pets or family members with allergies or respiratory problems (e.g. asthma)
  • Every two months for a home with one pet
  • Every month for a home with more than one pet or a family member with allergies or respiratory problems.

This applies to a split system air conditioner as much as it does a ducted system, an evaporative cooler or a portable air conditioner. You might also ask the question: Do I have the right air conditioner for my situation? Is it achieving the most efficient cooling and heating levels for your space?

4. Insulate Doors and Windows

There are other ways to make sure your air conditioning is working efficiently. Make sure your windows and doors are properly insulated, otherwise hot and humid air will gradually seep into your home, forcing your air con to work harder.

Also see to it that doors and windows are closed properly during cold or hot weather when you’re trying to keep the home, or a certain space in the home, at your desired temperature.

Another factor to keep in mind is that cooling units don’t like to compete with other heat sources such as boiling water, ovens, hair dryers, clothes dryers and sunlight. So, make sure you only use these appliances when necessary and keep those blinds closed.

Keeping Your System in Top Shape

The Benefits of Regular AC Maintenance

Regular air conditioner maintenance offers several benefits that can help keep your AC unit running smoothly and efficiently. Here are some key advantages:

  • Improved energy efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that your AC operates at its peak efficiency. When your system is clean and well-tuned, it uses less energy to cool your home, which can lead to lower energy bills.
  • Extended lifespan: Just like any machine, your AC unit can wear out over time. Maintenance helps identify and address potential issues before they become major problems, which can extend the lifespan of your system and save you from costly replacements. From split system air conditioners and portable air conditioners to ducted systems and evaporative coolers, it will extend their life.
  • Better air quality: Clean filters and coils mean cleaner air circulating through your home. Regular maintenance can help reduce indoor air pollutants and allergens, creating a healthier living environment.
  • Fewer breakdowns: Preventive maintenance can catch and fix minor problems early, reducing the chances of your AC unit breaking down on a scorching summer day when you need it the most.
  • Consistent comfort: A well-maintained AC system can provide more consistent and comfortable indoor temperatures, helping you avoid hot spots or uneven cooling. A qualified technician will check indoor units and outdoor units, refrigerant flow rate, the heat exchanger and much more.
  • Warranty protection: Some AC manufacturers require regular maintenance to keep your warranty valid. Skipping maintenance could void your warranty, costing you more in the long run.

Regular air conditioner maintenance is a smart investment that pays off with improved efficiency, a longer lifespan, better air quality, and fewer unexpected repair costs. It’s a win-win for your comfort and your wallet.

Keeping Your System in Top Shape

Whether you’ve got a single unit, a split system air conditioner, ducted or evaporative cooling, you need regular servicing to keep it in top condition. You don’t want the system struggling when it is turned on for an hour or 24 hours.

Annual maintenance of heating and cooling systems usually prevents problems from occurring when you need it to be working. The regular service includes cleaning or changing filters, cleaning ducts and vents, checking evaporator coils and much more, which can stop problems from escalating.

Most air conditioners do run efficiently if they’re constantly in operation and not battling to reach your desired temperature. There’s no doubt your power bills will be bigger, though.

The more practical solution might be to use a timer or smart technology with air conditioners, keep your system well maintained and ensure your home is properly prepared for summer’s swelter or the extremes of cold weather.

If you’re in need of professional advice, maintenance or a new air conditioner, contact the experts at Metropolitan Air Conditioning. We’ll meet all your air conditioning needs. We can service, repair and install all the major brands, including ActronAir, AquaMAX, Braemar, Carrier, Mitsubishi Electric, Rinnai and many others.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

Published: 2022-06-22

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My AC was acting up, and I was worried about a hefty repair bill. However, the technicians quickly identified a minor issue, fixed it, and didn't overcharge me. I appreciate their honesty and expertise in troubleshooting the problem.

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