Early spring is the ideal time to get air conditioners ready for the warm weather to come, according to a group made up of HVAC manufacturers.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute has a list of tips for homeowners to ensure their central air conditioners and heat pumps run efficiently this summer. Among their suggestions:

●Remove leaves, grass, weeds and debris from around the system’s outdoor condensing unit. Clean the unit using a garden hose.

●Replace or clean your air filter regularly. A dirty air filter can reduce energy efficiency up to 15 percent.

●Ensure that furniture is not blocking vents, which causes the air conditioner to work too hard.

"Following these steps to ensure your units are running as efficiently as possible can help offset HVAC costs through the summer months," said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. "Heating and cooling accounts for a significant percent of the energy used in a home, so taking steps to ensure the efficient use of heating and cooling equipment can help reduce energy bills."

The association also recommends having the HVAC system regularly inspected and serviced by a qualitied HVAC technician. AHRI suggested using a North American Technician Excellence-certified company.