VANCOUVER – Summer is already underway as British Columbia has already seen record breaking temperatures and the heat is set to increase. If your air conditioner is struggling to keep things cool, the experts at Consumer Reports have some advice for Mother Nature to turn up the heat.

Start with the air filter. A dirty filter is a common problem with window and central air conditioning systems. It restricts airflow, which reduces the air conditioner’s ability to cool a room. You can clean or replace a filter yourself; a service call is not required.

Window units usually have a reusable filter that you should vacuum gently and then wash with soap and water about once a month at peak times. For central air conditioning systems, see the manual for how often the filters need to be replaced. You will likely need to replace your filters more often if you have pets as their hair can clog them up faster.

Another way to maximize efficiency is to use weather strips around window units. This prevents the cool air from escaping to the outside and the warm air from creeping in.

The location can also affect the performance of a window AC. It has to work harder when it’s in a very sunny spot. Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day so that the sun doesn’t add extra heat to your home. Also, if the temperature of your central air conditioner is not right, make sure that the thermostat is not exposed to direct sunlight, as this can result in the incorrect temperature being registered.

You also want to be sure that your air conditioner has enough cooling capacity or electricity. The size of the room is an important factor. If your device is too small for your space, it will never keep up, especially on those super-hot days. On the other hand, if your device is too big, it can run too fast and not dry out the air, making your room a bit humid.

If none of these movements work, compare the cost of a repair to a new window unit. If your air conditioner is more than eight years old, it is probably time to replace it. The solution can be worthwhile for central ACs, says CR. Installing a brand new central air conditioner can cost thousands. However, in its member surveys, Consumer Reports found that the average price to repair a broken system was only $ 250.

With files from Consumer Reports