Air conditioning certainly makes homes much more comfortable in the summer, but it could cost a homeowner about $1,000 a year for a home depending on where you live. This is nearly half the home's total energy bill. Fortunately, there are ways to keep a home comfortable and cooled during the hotter months.
Dirt and neglect are the primary causes of heating and cooling system problems. One of the most important steps that can be taken to prevent future problems and unwanted costs is proper maintenance. Keep your air conditioner at its best performance by:
• Cleaning or replacing the air filter about once a month.
• Having a contractor do annual check-ups. Contractors can get busy during summer and winter months, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around daylight savings time in the spring.
• Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner. If full, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.
• Inspect, clean, or change the air filter in your central air conditioner. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter causes energy costs to be greater than they should be and can damage your equipment, leading to early failures.
• Clean indoor and outdoor coils before the warm weather starts. A dirty coil reduces the system’s ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, costing you more and decreasing the life of the equipment.
• Check your air conditioners refrigerant. Charge and adjust when necessary to maintain manufacturer specifications. Too much or too little refrigerant can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment, and increasing costs.
• Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow. Proper air flow Around the indoor coil is necessary for efficient equipment operation and reliability.
If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR http://www.energystar.gov/ qualified model. It reduces energy use and could cut your cooling costs by 30%.
Earning the ENERGY STAR means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA http://www.epa.gov/ and the Department of Energy http://www.energy.gov/. ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners have a higher seasonal efficiency rating (SEER) than standard models, which makes them about 14% more efficient than standard models. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) http://www.cee1.org/ and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) http://www.ahrinet.org/ have developed an online database which identifies high efficiency equipment that has been tested to ARI 210/240 and verified by AHRI. Please note that the Directory lists the products that meet the performance levels specified in the ENERGY STAR Central Air Conditioner and Air-Source Heat Pump specification. However, only those products that have been listed by an ENERGY STAR partner are officially recognized as ENERGY STAR qualified.