Reporting Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This week’s heat wave had many of us turning on the air a little earlier than usual. But if you expect your unit to keep you cool all summer long, it’s a good idea to have it serviced before the hot temperatures are here to stay. In this week’s Angie’s List report Jim Donovan shows you some things you should do now when it comes to maintaining your air conditioner — in order to avoid expensive service calls in the heat of the summer.
In order to be sure you’ll stay nice and cool all summer — it’s a good idea to have you air conditioning unit serviced at least once a year — and it’s best to do it before you need to run it regularly.
Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says, “Maintaining your air conditioning unit is important because what happens is each year you fail to maintain it, it loses 5 percent of its efficiency. If you have skipped out on your regular maintenance for the last four years your air conditioner is only running at 80 percent efficiency which is costing you money each and every month in your monthly bills. Plus, regular maintenance can help prevent bigger problems down the road; simple things like finding out you’ve got problems with your filter could be inexpensive to catch if caught early, but could lead to a costly repair if ignored.
A typical service call for an an air conditioning unit runs between $70 and $100. So how do you know when it’s time to have it serviced? HVAC expert John Traub says, “The homeowner can tell that they are due for a tune up by higher humidity levels, higher electric bills, less comfort. You start looking at ‘when was the last time I actually had a tune up?’ And a lot of times it surprises folks that it’s been longer than they think.”
Here is some more advice from Angie:
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. They’re usually more expensive but thanks to federal tax credits and competitive prices, the prices are falling, and because they use less energy, you save in the long-run, too. 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.
- Get multiple estimates, even in an emergency situation
Watch this video…
Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3