The outdoor mechanism of your central air conditioner is the compressor. The compressor, simply put, transfers the hot air from inside your house and releases it outside. This process is made simpler by a larger temperature differential. The temperature differential is the difference between the temperature of the unit and the outdoor temperature. Shading your central air conditioner's compressor is a good way to quickly and easily improve the efficiency and life of the unit.
A simple awning attached to your house and shielding your compressor from the full sun will do wonders to reduce the wear and tear on the unit. Since you will not be opening and closing your awning, you can save money by purchasing a simple, low-cost aluminum or even canvas awning. The less light that transmits through the awning material, the better your compressor will feel in the heat of the summer.
Pergola or Arbor
A good way to mitigate the effects of the sun's rays on your air conditioner compressor is to place something between the compressor and the sun that actually benefits from the increased attention from the sun. Constructing a small pergola, or raised latticework supported by horizontal posts, is an ideal way to shade your air conditioner and improve the look of your yard. Take care not to grow any climbing plants that will drop fruit or berries into your compressor and gunk up the fans. Avoid grapevines and berry bushes, and opt instead for ivy or a climbing rose. Keep the plant trimmed, and do not allow it to grow into the compressor's grills.
In the short term, a simple patio umbrella can help mitigate the effects of the sun's rays on your compressor. Place it near your air conditioning unit, and tilt it so that it shades the unit for most of the day. It may look strange to your neighbors, but they aren't chipping in to pay your electric bill or helping to replace your burned-out compressor. Choose form over function, and shade your compressor as soon as possible.
A simple lattice structure can not only help hide your unsightly compressor from view but also can grant it some shade in the noon day sun. Sink a pair of 2 x 4s and mount your lattice 2 to 3 feet from your compressor; install lattice from the ground to about 3 feet higher than the compressor. Plant a fast-growing climbing plant like ivy to see the effects on your electric bill this season.
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