What can I do to cut down on my energy costs?

  • Use insulation (especially in the attic), caulk and weather-stripping to close air gaps.
  • Use appliances like the washer, dryer and dishwasher during cooler morning and evening hours.
  • Pull drapes and shades over windows facing the sun.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to automatically increase the temperature (about 82 degrees is recommended) if your house will be empty during predictable time periods of more than four hours.
  • Set your thermostat to the highest comfortable level – each degree raised reduces energy consumption by 3 to 4 percent.
  • Clean or replace air filters regularly (once a month with standard filters).
  • Keep the outside unit free of leaves or other airflow obstructions.
  • Have your air conditioning unit checked twice a year.
  • Use fans and ceiling fans to help you feel cooler in a higher temperature.

What is the average life of a central air conditioning system?

It depends on how much the system is used and how regularly it serviced. Generally, the average life of cooling units built in the 1970s and 1980s is about 15 years. Newer units are expected to last even longer.

When do I know it’s time to replace my system?

When the system develops more problems than seem cost-effective to fix, particularly when major components such as the compressor start making unusual noises or otherwise indicating need for a service call. Replacing a compressor is somewhat less expensive than replacing the entire unit, but new units will almost certainly give you greater efficiency and lower operating costs.

How often should I change the air filter in my system?

Once a month.

When do I know it’s time to replace my system?

When the system develops more problems than seem cost-effective to fix, particularly when major components such as the compressor start making unusual noises or otherwise indicating need for a service call. Replacing a compressor is somewhat less expensive than replacing the entire unit, but new units will almost certainly give you greater efficiency and lower operating costs.

Why does my HVAC unit need routine maintenance?

  • Up to 80 percent of all air conditioning and heat pump compressor failures could be eliminated if the problems that lead to the failure were corrected in a timely manner.
  • A “freon” (refrigerant) undercharge of only 10 percent can increase operating costs by almost 20 percent.
  • “Freon” (refrigerant) should never need to be replaced. If it must be added every year, there is an expensive leak that should be repaired.
  • A dirty evaporator, condenser and blower could increase air conditioning or heat pump electrical usage by 50 percent more.
  • Just a 100th of an inch of dirt or film on an evaporative coil can reduce its efficiency 5 percent.
  • Depending on the current condition of your equipment the service map pay for itself several times over in energy savings alone.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is like a conventional air conditioner except it can also provide heat in winter. In the summer, the heat pump collects heat from the house and expels it outside. In the winter, the heat pump extracts heat from outside air and circulates it inside the house. The heat pump works best when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Below that, supplementary heat often is needed. A heat pump uses 30 to 60 percent less energy to supply the same heat when compared to an electric furnace with a resistance heating element.

When purchasing a house, how can I be sure that the air conditioning system is in good condition?

Turn on the system and listen for unusual sounds. Feel how cool the air is and how strong the air flows from the vents. Go outside and listen to the unit as well. This personal inspection is a good indicator, but like buying a car, the best way is to then hire an expert to come out and inspect the system. It won’t cost much, and it could save a lot money in unanticipated repairs.