How to Test the Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner

If you live in the Norfolk area – or anywhere in Virginia for that matter, you likely count on an efficient cooling system to keep you comfortable and cool throughout the muggy dog days of summer. So, how do you know if your system is operating at optimal capacity?

If you enjoy trying out DIY lifehacks as much as we do, and you’re unsure whether your air conditioner is operating efficiently, give this easy home test a try.

Before you begin, make sure your AC unit has been running for at least 15 minutes and the outdoor temperature should be at least 80 degrees. Then, with a clean air filter in place, set a hand-held thermometer on the supply register that’s closest to the inside cooling equipment. Keep the thermometer in place for five minutes and record the temperature. Follow the same steps on the return vent.

The air coming out the return vent should be 14- 20 degrees cooler than the air going in. An air conditioner that’s not cooling to those levels isn’t operating at optimum efficiency. If there’s a difference of more than 20 degrees, there could be significant blockage or other problems preventing the proper flow and exchange of air.

If you want to take it a step further, buy a small dial probe thermometers at any HVAC parts shop for a few dollars. Drill holes in both the return duct and supply plenum right at the furnace and inserted the thermometer probes into the holes. Now you can see the temperature at the furnace at a glance. As a bonus, the dial thermometer is easy to read from any angle.

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