Spring is a great time to assess your central air conditioner and improve its energy efficiency before the summer heat kicks in. Begin by turning the system on and letting it run for fifteen minutes to determine whether it's still working properly. After months of disuse, an A/C system can develop problems that weren't there when you turned it off last fall.
Symptoms of AC trouble include:
- Unusual noises
- Uneven cooling
- Weak airflow
- Indoor temperature that doesn't match the thermostat setting
- Refrigerant and/or water leaks
- System frequently cycling on and off
Consider Upgrading To An Energy Saving Air Conditioner
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule repair service as soon as possible, especially with a system that's over ten years old. If the repair would be prohibitively expensive, you might want to consider replacing your central air conditioner with a newer, energy saving air conditioner.
Be sure to have the new system properly sized for maximum comfort and greatest energy efficiency. The money you'll save on energy use over time can balance out the cost of a new air conditioner. And if you upgrade to a qualifying energy efficient system before the end of 2013, you can claim a 25C tax credit deduction with the IRS.
Increase Energy Efficiency With Preventive AC Maintenance
If your air conditioner is working properly, scheduling a professional AC tuneup is good insurance for continued high performance. A professional HVAC technician can clean and flush the entire system. This will help your air conditioner to consume less energy while providing cooler indoor air.
Preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your A/C system in good repair. Air conditioners work harder than automobiles to keep you comfortable. Treating your cooling system to a good cleaning and inspection will reveal any potential problems before they can damage your cooling system and disrupt your life. Preventive maintenance also helps energy conservation because a well-maintained air conditioner needs less power to do its job.
For maximum energy savings and to keep your air conditioner healthy, clean or replace the air filter every month, especially if you have pets. A dirty filter makes the A/C system work harder to provide the same degree of cooled air. Blocked filters can even damage the AC motor, causing breakdown.
Remove the filter and vacuum it thoroughly to remove buildup. Then rinse and dry it before replacing it. The cleaner you keep the filter, the less energy your air conditioner will use.
Duct Cleaning Can Decrease Air Conditioning Energy Use
Having your duct work inspected regularly is essential if you want an energy saving air conditioner. Over time, ducts can get clogged with dust and debris that block airflow and blow into your home whenever the system cycles on.
Air ducts can also get infested with allergens, mites, bacteria, pet dander, mold, mildew and viruses. The dark and moist interior of air ducts is a welcoming haven for these contaminants, and they can create a musty odor. Duct cleaning will eliminate any pollutants while helping to keep allergic reactions and respiratory problems at bay.
For maximum energy conservation, ask your HVAC technician to check for and seal any ductwork cracks or leaks. Having ducts sealed can reduce utility bills significantly because cracks and leaks waste the air you are paying to cool. Up to 40 percent of cooled air can escape via leaky ducts. Your technician can check and seal all ductwork, especially those connections at air vents and registers where leaks are most likely to develop.
Ducts can become infested with insects or rodents; their nests can block airflow and increase energy use. These pests can also invade your indoor space if left to multiply. Duct sealing will not only eliminate any pests which have taken up residence, it will also keep them from coming back.
Cleaned and sealed ductwork will keep your central air conditioning system functioning optimally, improve your indoor air quality, reduce air conditioning energy use and lower monthly utility bills. It's cheaper to maintain air conditioner duct work than to replace an air conditioner or an entire system of damaged ducts.
Other Central Air Conditioner Energy Saving Tips
Besides keeping your AC system well maintained, having repairs done promptly and considering an energy efficient upgrade for an older system, there are other energy saving tips that can help to keep power bills manageable:
- Add insulation
- Seal doors and windows
- Maintain proper refrigerant levels
- Invest in a programmable thermostat
- Install ceiling fans and use them to augment air conditioning
- Cook with a microwave or on an outdoor barbeque during the summer
- Replace incandescent, heat-emitting light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs
- Set the thermostat higher when no one is at home
- Keep shades closed during the day to avoid indoor solar heating