Summers in Tigard and the Portland area tend to be quite mild. Still, there are plenty of times from June through August when the daytime highs reach the upper 80s or 90s, and this can cause your home to quickly become uncomfortably hot if your AC isn’t running. Leaving your AC on throughout the day is the most effective option for keeping your home cool and comfortable. However, it shouldn’t be continuously blowing, as this might indicate that it isn’t cooling effectively.

Understanding Average AC Cooling Cycles

If your AC is functioning effectively and the unit is the proper size for your home, it should usually perform one or two cooling cycles per hour. An AC may run slightly more often on days when the temperature is into the upper 90s .

A cooling cycle is from when the blower starts until it has cooled your home to the temperature on the thermostat setting and shuts off. In milder places like the Pacific Northwest, each cooling cycle should typically last for no more than 15 to 20 minutes.

The only exception is if the system turns on when the temperature inside is much higher than the thermostat setting. This can be the case if you program your thermostat to be 5 to 10 degrees higher while you’re at work and then drops back down to the normal setting in the afternoon. In this case, your AC may need to run for an hour or so when it is time to cool your home back to the normal thermostat setting.

Long Cooling Cycles

Occasionally, your AC will run for long periods. However, this should not happen on milder days or when the temperature in your home is only a few degrees higher than the thermostat setting. If you notice this happening, you can first check your air filter. A dirty air filter restricts the airflow coming into the system. This makes the system cool far more slowly and run much longer.

If replacing the air filter doesn’t work, you may want to have the system inspected. You could have a problem with the blower fan, evaporator, or condenser coil. It could also be that your ductwork is overly dirty and needs cleaning or the ducts have many air leaks. Both of these issues will contribute to reduced airflow and longer run times. Numerous other issues can also prevent an AC system from cooling effectively. So, it’s important to have a technician inspect the system and determine the specific problem.

If you don’t have the system inspected and the problem fixed, your comfort will suffer and your energy costs will be much higher. An AC that runs for hours at a time is also much more prone to breaking down and will typically have a shortened lifespan. This is why we always recommend scheduling an inspection as soon as possible whenever you notice your AC cooling cycles are longer than normal.

Don’t Turn Your AC Off During the Day

Turning the temperature on your air conditioner’s thermostat up while you’re at work and at night when you’re sleeping is a great way to reduce your monthly electricity bills. In the Portland area, you can often shut your AC off completely in the evening. Opening your windows at night may be sufficient to keep your home cool. You’ll want to close the windows and turn the AC back on in the morning.

What you should never do is completely shut your AC off during the day. If you were to turn the AC off and then turn it back on when you get home, the temperature inside your house can rise well into the high 80s or 90s. In this case, your AC may need to run for several hours before it can finally cool your home to the desired temperature. In this case, your AC would likely end up using more energy than it would have if you’d simply left it on during the day and set the thermostat to a higher temperature.

The wear and tear on the system will also be greater if it runs for hours at a time than it would be if the system only ran once or twice an hour throughout the day. Again, this increases the chances of the system breaking down and possibly needing costly repairs. This can also shorten its lifespan.

Smart or Programable Thermostats

We recommend upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat if your home doesn’t have one. Using a programmable or smart thermostat is the easiest way to lower your cooling costs while ensuring your home is comfortable. These thermostats are also great for ensuring your house is fully cool whenever you get home from work.

With a programable thermostat, you set times and temperatures that remain static. But a smart thermostat is Wi-Fi compatible, so you can change setting via your smartphone or other mobile device. It can also learn from your behavior and make automatic adjustments to its setting based on your normal routine and the weather. This is extremely useful as it will help improve your comfort and ensure that your AC system is functioning at its peak level of energy efficiency.

Most smart thermostats have a function known as recovery mode designed to improve comfort. On a programable thermostat, the time you program the temperature to change is the time that your AC will turn on. For instance, if the thermostat is programmed so the temperature drops from 75 to 70 degrees at 5 p.m., your thermostat will signal the AC to start cooling at 5. If you normally get home around 5, this means you’ll have to deal with your home being overly hot for up to an hour or two.

A smart thermostat with recovery mode can calculate various factors to ensure the home temperature is 70 degrees by 5 p.m. This means it will signal your AC to turn on anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two earlier so that your home is cool when you arrive home.

Exactly how early the smart thermostat will turn the AC on depends partly on how much higher you have the temperature set during the day compared to your normal setting. It also depends on the weather, as smart thermostats can monitor the outdoor temperature and weather. On hotter or more humid days, the thermostat will turn the AC on earlier to ensure the house is fully cool when you get home.

If your AC runs longer than it should or you need any other cooling service, the expert team at Specialty Heating & Cooling LLC is always here to help. We repair and service all models and types of AC units, heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and furnaces. We also specialize in heating and indoor air quality services. For more information or if you need to schedule a service call in Tigard or the Portland area, contact Specialty Heating & Cooling LLC today.

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