Air conditioning is a luxury that we gladly spring for to keep us comfortably cool in the summer, remove humidity from the air in the home, and improve indoor air quality through the filtration of circulated air. But without an annual tune-up, your air conditioner will cost you a lot more money than it should.
A Simple Tune-Up Saves You Big Money
Imagine if you drove your car for over 2,500 hours in the course of one summer, which would translate to more than 160,000 miles. You would probably consider a tune-up essential, and indeed, your car wouldn’t last very long without it. The same principal applies to your air conditioner. Over time, lubrication dries up, electrical connections loosen and terminals corrode, dust builds up on interior components, and belts begin to crack or fray. Your air conditioner’s efficiency decreases by around 5 percent each season, which means that if you haven’t had a tune-up in over five years, you’re paying over 25 percent more for energy costs than you should be.
But efficiency isn’t the only way a neglected air conditioner drains your pocketbook. The average lifespan of a typical air conditioner is about 15 years, but a well-maintained system will likely operate effectively for up to 20 years. By contrast, a poorly maintained air conditioner will likely fail around the ten-year mark, requiring a replacement. And we all know that central air conditioning systems are not cheap.
Repairing a neglected air conditioner is also a major expense. A neglected air conditioner will almost certainly require expensive repairs more and more frequently as it ages as a result of common – but highly preventable – problems.
Environmental Costs of Neglected A/Cs
Neglected air conditioners use more energy than systems that are well maintained. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists agree that global warming is a major environmental concern, and greenhouse gas emissions that stem from the generation of electricity account for a huge portion of those emissions. It’s essential that every household does its part to reduce the amount of energy used. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling your home account for nearly 50 percent of the typical household’s annual energy consumption, and maintaining your air conditioner (and your furnace in the winter) is a good place to start reducing your carbon footprint.
Annual Professional Maintenance
Industry experts across the board recommend an annual professional tune-up for your air conditioner. According to HVAC experts F.H. Furr Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical, scheduling your tune-up in the early spring is ideal and will ensure efficiency and help prevent common problems from the moment you turn on your system in the summer all the way through to the last day of the cooling season.
Essential DIY Tasks
While professional maintenance will go a long way toward improving system performance and reducing your cooling bills, there are a couple of important tasks you should perform throughout the cooling season.
Inspect the air filter and replace it with a new one when it’s dirty. A dirty filter restricts airflow and allows dust to enter the system, both of which reduce its efficiency.
Spray down the outdoor unit monthly to remove plant debris from the fins, which prevents optimum airflow and heat exchange.