Why Your Air Conditioner Coils Need to be Clean

Written by Russ Tantillo of Clover Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
Updated March 29, 2013
An air conditioning unit sits outside a home.
Keeping your air conditioner unit clean and clear from obstructions can increase its efficiency and keep your electric bills down as well.
Photo by Eric Fernandez

A clogged or obstructed air conditioner coil can decrease cooling efficiency. Learn how to let your AC breathe so that it can cool your home more effectively

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Many homeowners face high electric bills during the warmer months, when they're operating their home's air conditioning. Did you know that the central air conditioner component of your home’s HVAC system is likely the biggest user of electricity in your house during the summer?

Here are a few tips to trim those high AC energy bills:

1. Keep the air conditioner filter clean

The easiest way is to increase energy efficiency is to keep your HVAC system's filter clean. An AC unit with a dirty air filter is a lot like when you have a stuffy nose; you can function, but you're not at your best. So blow your air conditioner's nose and change that filter.

2. Keep the outside AC unit clear

Your home's outside air conditioner unit has a coil inside that is essential to energy efficiency. This part of your AC system works in a way similar to the radiator in your car; air needs to move over the coil to dissipate the heat from the inside unit.

If that coil has grass clippings, lint from the nearby dryer vent or maybe bushes that are growing next to it, you are making the unit work harder and use more energy.

Clear the area around your outdoor unit and use a hose and wash out the coils. Don't worry about getting it wet! It sits outside in the weather anyway, and the electrical components are covered up, so go ahead and clean away.

3. Professional air conditioning maintenance

Your air conditioning system also has a coil inside your home, where the actual cooling process takes place. This essential element is a bit more complicated to clean and should be left to a professional.

It's a very important part of the cooling system and when clean, it can help save a lot of money on your energy bill.

Want to save even more on AC bills?

These easy tips can cut your energy bill by 10 to 15 percent. If you want to reduce them even more, consider replacing your system with a higher-efficiency unit with a higher SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) of 15 or higher.

About this Experts Contributor: Russ Tantillo is service manager for Clover Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning, which has been servicing the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. markets since 1981 and provides heating, cooling and plumbing work. Based in Fairfax, Virginia, the company earned the 2012 Angi Super Service Award.

As of March 28, 2013, this service provider was highly rated. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.

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