Highly rated service specialists say that the majority of their emergency repair can be traced to poor maintenance.
According to Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder and owner, a home’s heating and cooling system results in 50 percent of a home’s energy costs.
“Changing the filter on your furnace or air conditioner is one of the simplest things you can do,” Hicks said. “Just remember to check it every month when you pay your utility bills. It’s something that anyone can do themselves, and it can save you up to 15 percent on your energy bills if you get them well maintained.”
Service Technician Darren Scaggs said that air conditioning units need a tune-up every year.
“If the outdoor coils are dirty, if the cooling capacity is not up to par and they are not getting air flow out, things like that can show that the air conditioner needs tuned up,” Scaggs said.
According to Angie’s List, each year an air conditioner goes without maintenance, it will lose about 5 percent of its efficiency.
Signs that your A/C is due for service:
• Is you’re a/C unit not cooling your house as effectively as it should?
• Has the humidity in your home increased?
• However, not all problems are immediately recognizable, reinforcing the importance of having an annual inspection.
Items checked during a tune-up may include:
• Safety controls are inspected.
• Refrigerant levels to ensure there are no Freon leaks.
• Compressor and electrical components are cleaned and checked for proper operation and life expectancy.
• Filters checked and changed, if necessary.
• Outdoor coil is cleaned.
• Check temperature and proper air flow.
• Calibrate thermostats.
Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of local consumer reviews, asked its heating and cooling experts for ways homeowners can save and still beat the heat:
• Call a professional: Each central air conditioning unit should be inspected, cleaned and tuned by a professional before the summer season. Ask about annual maintenance plans. More HVAC are offering these plans that will insure visits twice per calendar year.
• Keep the filter clean: Clean and replace the air conditioner filter frequently (check the filter once a month). This is especially important during the summer when dust and allergens circulate. If the filter becomes clogged, your system will have to work harder to supply the same amount of cool air. Check with your provider on the right type of filters to use with your system.
• Made in the shade: Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air, meaning the A/C will have an easier time cooling the air, but keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
• Dial for dollars: Remember that each degree you dial below 78 increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. If your monthly electric bill is about $100, you’ll save $8 a month with each degree you can stand above 78.
• Set and go: If it’s hard to remember to tweak your thermostat before you leave for work, consider investing in a programmable thermostat or a timer for your window unit.
• Time to replace? If your unit is more than 10 years old and you have substantial repair costs, it’s probably time to consider a replacing your unit with a new, energy-efficient model. When replacing your A/C, look for a properly sized unit. If you install a unit that is too large, it will cycle on and off – reducing the efficiency of the system.
Angie’s List tips for hiring a HVAC company:
• Check that they are properly licensed and insured.
• Some companies hire maintenance technicians to do their tune-ups as an entry level position. Make sure they have certification that shows they have met the minimum standards for knowledge of their trade.
• A typical service call should range between $70 and $100. Be wary of companies that offer significantly lower prices. Emergency or weekend repair calls often carry extra fees of $50-$150 above the time and materials needed for repair.
• Get multiple estimates, even in an emergency situation.
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