Switches Brew: Is It Okay to Switch Between Heat and AC

Switches Brew: Is It Okay to Switch Between Heat and AC

Something crazy happened last week. After a few days that were downright bleak, we turned the calendar from February to March, and spring suddenly burst in through our windows. The temperature rose, the sun came out of hiding, and all the flowers seemed to bloom at once. It was glorious.

As Texans, we know better than to expect any type of weather to last too long this time of year. Maybe spring is here to stay, but it’s just as possible that she’s gracing us with a brief visit and the cold and wet will take over again any minute.

With all this back and forth, what’s a homeowner to do about the thermostat? Can we safely turn it from heat to AC, even if we may need to turn it back next week or tomorrow or even later tonight? Does switching back and forth like that waste money or cause unnecessary strain on our equipment? Should we just suck it up and shiver or sweat until things even out? Read on for your Austin HVAC specialist’s take on what to do with unpredictable Central Texas weather.

Switch Hitter

Here’s the short answer: it’s fine to switch between heat and AC, even if you’re doing it frequently. As long as you’re doing it the right way, you’re not running up your energy bill or wearing out your equipment before its time. However, a lot of people don’t know how (or more importantly when) to make the switch. Let’s break that down, shall we?

If you need to switch from heat to AC, or vice versa, the most important thing is to let your unit complete its current cycle. If the AC is on, let it run until it switches itself off (make sure your thermostat is set to AUTO, not ON). When the AC cycle is complete, turn the thermostat to OFF and wait five minutes. Then change it from AC to heat and turn it back on.

Don’t Trip!

That five minute waiting period gives the refrigerant a chance to return to its starting pressure. If you turn it back on right away, the pressure is too high, which might cause the compressor to lock up. This can lead to a blown fuse or tripped breaker.

Also, when switching between heating and cooling your home, don’t make drastic changes all at once. Raise or lower the temperature a few degrees, then a few degrees more once it reaches that setting, then a few degrees more until you reach the perfect temp. This is the most efficient way to get where you want to be and prevents your system from overworking.

Caution: HVAC at Work

Finally, know that your system is working a little bit harder when you’re switching it back and forth a lot. Not enough to justify freezing through a cold spell because you’re already switched to AC, but enough that you’ll want to make sure you don’t skip your preventive maintenance visit. Now is a great time to have your Austin HVAC professional out to look over your system and ensure everything is in proper working order for the seasons ahead.

Don’t sweat this spring! No matter what the weather throws at you, just adjust your thermostat (easy does it), then sit back and enjoy.

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