5 Ways to Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner and Save Money

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Summer can be a challenging balance between keeping your home cool and keeping your utility bills low. Here are 5 simple ways to do both:

1. Change the Filter

This is perhaps the simplest and most economical way to improve the efficiency of your A/C. With just a little effort, you’ll see big rewards. If you haven’t changed the filter since last summer, now is definitely the time to do so. Filters should be changed or cleaned every month or two during cooling season to keep your system running efficiently. The frequency is higher if you have furry pets or excessive dust. Clean filters can lower your system’s energy consumption by 5-15%. And that’s not all. Clean filters also prolong the life of your air conditioner by keeping dirt out of the evaporator coil (which can impair the coil’s capacity for heat absorption), and improve air quality by removing allergens and other irritants.

2. Check Your Ducts for Leaks

If your air conditioner works, but doesn’t produce as much cool air as it should, your ducts could be the problem. Duct leaks can result in as much as 40% of energy being lost with a functioning air conditioner. That is a lot of wasted energy costing you money without providing the comfort you are paying for. Inspect your ducts to make sure they are well insulated, with no gaps or holes. Also check that there is no air loss where the ducts connect to the system.

3. Clean the Coils

Even if you regularly change or clean your filter, your air conditioner’s evaporator coil collects dirt over the winter and during use. The dirt reduces airflow and compromises your A/C’s performance. Before the start of the summer season, check the coil and clean it if necessary. The aluminum fins on the coils can be damaged so clean them carefully. Consider using a “fin comb” (available at air conditioner wholesalers) to restore the fins to there original condition.

4. Check the Outdoor Condenser Unit

The same goes for the outdoor condenser. Dirt, leaves and other debris can collect around the unit and should be cleared away. Trim any nearby foliage so that it is at least two feet from the condenser.

5. Hire a Professional to Perform Air Conditioner Maintenance

For worry-free service, schedule routine maintenance with an HVAC professional before the summer heat arrives, and again at the end of the season. Professional maintenance ensures that your A/C is operating efficiently. Qualified technicians can spot and correct small problems before they become big, costly problems, and reduce the chance that you will be without air conditioning when you need it.

A Rheem Pro Partner technician is ready to serve you. Call today for your maintenance check, or with any air conditioning concerns or questions.

Is Now a Good Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

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If your A/C has been malfunctioning, or is not working as efficiently or effectively as it should, you may be thinking about purchasing a new one. There are several factors to consider when contemplating this major investment.

  • Age of the Air Conditioner

    Age alone is not a reason to replace your air conditioner. If it works, and your utility bills are low, you’re probably fine not making a change. It is worth noting, however, that many improvements have been made to newer air conditioners. Improvements such as programmable thermostats and better overall design make them much more energy efficient. The savings on utility bills could be significant if you have an older unit, and those savings can greatly offset the cost of a new air conditioner. Energy Star recommends upgrading to an energy-efficient unit if your current A/C is 10 or more years old. Many HVAC technicians typically recommend replacing units if they are 15 years or older. Your HVAC professional can help you evaluate the savings you are likely to achieve with a new system and determine whether a replacement makes sense for you.

  • Frequency and Cost of Repairs

    If you’re constantly replacing parts or repeatedly having the same repair issues you should consider replacement. Even if this is your first significant repair, a good guideline is the $5,000 rule. Multiply the age of your air conditioner by the cost of the repair. If the number is greater than $5,000, replacing it makes sense.

  • Nature of Repairs

    If your A/C requires additional refrigerant (Freon) that can indicate there is leak. This type of repair can get pricey pretty quickly. The coolant itself costs $40-$175 per pound. While that may include the cost of the service call, repairing the leak plus topping off the coolant can run between $550 and $1,000. This type of leak can also signal that the compressor is about to fail. All together, replacing the compressor, repairing the leak, and adding coolant can cost as much as a new low-end unit.

  • Energy Efficiency

    The industry measures efficiency of new air conditioners with the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the product. In January 2006, the standard for residential air conditioners was increased to a SEER of 13 or higher. Efficient A/C systems keep your utility bills low and also reduce your environmental impact.

Additional Factors

Some other things to consider include:

Is the repair covered by a warranty?

Are replacement parts available?

How long do you plan to stay in your home? Will you reap enough benefit from a new air condition, either through your own comfort or through the sale of your home?

What is the life expectancy of the unit? Is it serviceable for a few more years?

New refrigerants. R22 was the standard for many years and is now being phased out and the price is getting very expensive. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to make AC units with R22. All newly manufactured air conditioning units are now using R410A – an earth friendly refrigerant.

To gauge the condition of your existing air conditioner, schedule an inspection today with the most qualified HVAC technicians – a Rheem Pro Partner.

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