With a healthy economic growth, the burgeoning middle class of India is able to afford a comfortable and healthy lifestyle. Once considered an indicator of luxury, air conditioners are now more accessible to this section of society. Every year there is a growing number of families opting for air conditioners in India.

While the urban population is enjoying the benefits of wealth, there is a lack of knowledge on the salient points of use and maintenance of their air conditioners to ensure highest efficiency and performance.

To get the best out of air conditioners, these are the key points that should be kept in mind:

* Air conditioners should be installed where there is adequate space for cleaning and maintenance. Installing the air conditioner in cramped spaces will provide little access to the outside unit thus making cleaning and maintenance difficult thus reducing the overall performance and energy efficiency.

* It is important to install the unit under a shaded area thus protecting it from direct sunlight.

* While choosing an air conditioner with a high ISEER (energy) rating will ensure low electricity bills, wear and tear and corrosion will reduce the efficiency. It is important to follow the following steps to ensure that the air condition performs at peak levels and at high efficiency:

* The ideal thermostat range for comfort cooling is between 24 degree Celsius and 26 degree Celsius. Change of 1 degree Celsius in the thermostat setting can impact your energy bill by 3% to 5%.

* Make sure to clean the air conditioner filter regularly. This will improve cooling, reduce compressor running time and consume less energy. Outdoor units are prone to dust and dirt accumulation which needs to be cleaned periodically. A fully chocked condenser can be cleaned completely with water pressure in case of copper tube condenser which is not case with alternative alloy condenser or non-copper condensers. The design of alloy condenser is such that there is very little gap between its tubes and fins. Hence cleaning the dust, impurities and pollutants accumulated require very high pressure to clean completely. This leads to the leakage of alloy condensers and need replacement in a span of three years. The accumulated impurities also hamper the heat transfer capability of alloy condensers and thus decrease its energy efficiency.

* Ensure to not allow cold air escape your room by keeping all windows and doors closed. This will help in minimising energy consumption of room air conditioners.

* Do not place lights, computers, televisions and other light-producing devices near the air conditioner thermostat, as it will impact the proper functioning of the thermostat and thereby make the air conditioner condenser work longer and consume more electricity.

* Using a ceiling fan with air conditioner helps in reducing air conditioner load.

* The metal used for the indoor unit’s evaporator, outdoor unit’s condenser as well as the connecting tube should be 100% copper. Copper has many advantages that keep the air conditioner run at its highest efficiency. They are easy to maintain, does not develop gas leakages frequently, and gives continuous and hassle-free cooling.

* Air conditioners require regular servicing and maintenance to ensure that it keeps running at its best. Choosing an air conditioner that can be easily repaired and one that has a low maintenance cost is important. In case of leakage in copper condenser or copper connecting tube can be repaired on site whereas a condenser made with an alternative method has to be repaired at a workshop thus depriving the home of its air conditioner especially on hot summer days.

* 100% copper ACs require only two regular service calls in a year, compared to non-copper ACs that need close to 6 services in a year draining resources. In addition to this fact the non-copper condenser will fail every 2-3 years, which is not the case with a 100% copper air conditioner. These factors complement the ability to wash the outside unit make the 100% copper air conditioner easy to maintain and ensure that it will provide the best cooling at the least amount of energy consumption.

The writer is Chief Manager – HVAC, International Copper Association India.