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AAA Advanced AC & Appliance » Maintenance Tips

Keeping your air conditioner and other electricity-consuming appliances (yes, clean that dust from your refrigerator's coils) in peak operating condition will help keep bills as low as possible.

Cost of neglecting maintenance

Since AC can he such a major portion of your bill, you can't afford to neglect regular tune ups. For each year of routine maintenance you skip. your air conditioner loses about 5% of its efficiency. This means even an efficient Energy Star-rated unit will soon become an energy glutton without attention.

Other social and environmental costs of poor maintenance range from requiring power producers to generate more electricity (which often contributes to more green house gases and the need to build additional power stations) to creating more demand that invariably raises the cost of fuel, such as oil and natural gas, used to power many electricity generating plants.

Ideas for reducing AC costs

    Top of the list: Keep your air conditioner tuned up! A professional inspection is inexpensive and can quickly pay for itself. Regular maintenance that might include services such as balancing the refrigerant level, changing filters, straightening bent cooling fins and sealing air ducts promote efficient operation. Efficiency = Savings. According to the government's Energy Star program, returning an unmaintained AC system to peak efficiency could cut up to $20 off a monthly electricity bill.

    Keep your home naturally cooler with simple steps such as closing window shades to block direct sunlight, switching to cool-running fluorescent light bulbs and running heat generating appliances (clothes dryer, oven. etc.) in the cooler morning and evening hours. And, seal your home against air leaks around windows and doors with weather stripping-cheap and effective.

    When no one is going to be home, turn up the thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to kick in at cooler temps just before people return. If you don't have one, get one, because you could save about $180 annually in cooling and heating costs.

    Use fans. They consume less juice than AC, create moving air that cools people, and enable you to set the AC a couple of degrees higher or so.

    If your air conditioner is old, consider replacing it with one of today's efficient models.

Your bottom line is the bottom line

You have better things to spend your money on than electric hills. Making sure your air conditioner and other appliances are running at peak efficiency is simply part of a smart lifestyle. We will be giving everyone a few simple tips and steps that can end up saving you money a lot of when it comes to running your air conditioner. A little planning before installing your air conditioner will save you energy and money.

    Try setting your thermostat between 74°F and 78°F. Each degree setting below 78°F will increase your energy consumption by approximately 8%. As you can see, that can add up to a lot of money over a year.

    Inspect and clean both the indoor and outdoor AC/ coils. The indoor coil in your air conditioner acts as a magnet for dust because it is constantly wetted during the cooling season. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor efficiency. The outdoor coil must also be checked periodically for dirt build-up and cleaned if necessary.

    Check the refrigerant charge. The circulating fluid in your air conditioner is a special refrigerant gas that is put in when the system is installed. If the system is overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant, it will not work properly. You may need a service contractor to check the fluid and adjust it appropriately.

    Use bath and kitchen fans sparsely when you are running the air conditioning system. Reduce the cooling load by using cost-effective conservation measures. For example, effectively shade east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities, such as dishwashing or baking, until the evening on hot days.

    Try to not use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder, which in turn increases your utility bill.

    Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don't let in unwanted heat and humidity. If practical, ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

Room Air Conditioning Units

    The unit should be level when installed, so that the inside drainage system and other mechanisms operate efficiently. If possible, install the unit in a shaded spot on your home's north or east side. Direct sunshine on the unit's outdoor heat exchanger decreases efficiency by as much as 10%. You can plant trees and shrubs to shade the air conditioner, but do not block the airflow. Min. 2" on all 4 sides and 8" above is suggested.

    Set the fan speed on high, except on very humid days. When humidity is high, set the fan speed on low for more comfort. The low speed on humid days will cool your home better and will remove more moisture from the air because of slower air movement through the cooling equipment. Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing electricity use.

    Set your air conditioners thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. And don't set your thermostat at a slighter setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.

    Don't place lamps or televisions near your air-conditioners thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

Proper maintenance of your air conditioner will also save energy. Be sure to do the following:

    At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit's metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.

    Check your unit's air filter once a month and clean or replace filters as necessary. Keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption b) 10 to 30%.

    Wire through the unit's drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor wills or carpet. Should be done by a professional company.

    *In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it.

This summer is approaching fast - are you prepared for a hike in your air conditioning bill? If not, follow these effortless, straightforward, and free tips and tricks to save your hard earned cash from blowing out the window and spend it on more rewarding activities...

    Close drapes, blinds and shades to help retain heat at night or during unoccupied periods.

    Check the settings on the room air conditioner. Make sure the "fresh air" vent on the air conditioner is closed so you are not cooling outside air.

    Set the thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower the overall cooling bill will be.

    Examine your duct system for air leaks. Look for sections that should be joined, but have separated, and then look for obvious holes. Consider hiring a contractor to test the ducts and repair leaks and restrictions. Leaking ductwork accounts for more than 25% of heating costs in an average California home.

    Close drapes. blinds and shades to keep sun's rays out of the home during the warmer months.

Ok, I promised that these tips would he free... but I lied. However, the following tips are extremely low cost and not expensive at all. If you take into regard how much money you will be saving over the years - these are definitely worth the pennies.

    Remove and clean room air conditioner filters monthly. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner.

    Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use.

    Call AAA and we can send a licensed IIVAC technician to your home today! Mention this article and save $20 off any AC repair.

Taking the best care of your air conditioning units can sometimes be confusing. The media can tell you one thing, but it may not be the best idea. We have prepared a list here of the best ways to perform air conditioning maintenance, with tips from the experts.

Do I need to have maintenance performed on my equipment?

It is recommended that you have yearly AC maintenance. It will make sure your equipment is operating at peak efficiency and can prevent breakdowns during normal operation.

What is the average life of an air conditioning unit?

5 to 10 years

How far back should I set my thermostat at night?

Maximum temperature setback should be 8°F.

Should I cover my air conditioner in the winter?

It is not necessary, unless you have a problem with leaves.

Should I turn off the circuit breaker to my air conditioner in the winter?

It is not required, but if you do, make sure you turn it back on 24 hours prior to using it again.

How often should I replace the refrigerant?

Air conditioners are not like cars with oil, contrary to popular belief, meaning you rarely have to change or fill the refrigerant. Although, if it always seems like it is low, there may be a leakage occuring.

What does an AC maintenance plan consist of?

We check for proper refrigerant levels, check all electrical components and controls, clean evaporator and condensor oils if needed, oil the motors if needed, calibrate the thermostat, and check the condenser & filters.

Is there anything I can do at home for AC maintenance?

Yes. The most important thing you can do is to make sure there is nothing covering the condensing unit outside. Some people throw stuff on it to cover it in the winter to protect it and forget about it. Run it on a day before you really need it, just to make sure it is working before you have to deal with a sweltering day, waiting for someone to come fix it. Change the filters regularly. Be sure that the access panels are secure, with all the screws in place. Be sure that the thermostat is in cooling mode. Clean it often, but NEVER use a hose and water to clean it, you can electrocute yourself or short the electrical components.

It seems to be working fine. Do I really need air conditioning maintenance every year?

Yes. Like anything, regular AC maintenance is far less costly than repairs or even replacement later. There could also be things wrong with your air conditioning unit that only a professional could spot, that wouldn't be noticable in the operation of the unit.

Any other ways I can perform air conditioning maintenance at home?

Yes. Check your condensate drain pans to make sure they're clean. Any mold or other growth should be killed with a 10:1 solution of bleach - 10 parts water, one part bleach. Then rinse clean with fresh water. Check your condensate drain lines to make sure water flows without backing up. You may have to flush it out with water or replace it.  Contact us if you still have additional AC maintenance questions »

AAA Advanced AC & Appliance
Box 10854 90 Godfrey Nixon GKF Business Park Suite 25 Grand Cayman KY1-1007 | Tel: (345) 623-1000 |

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