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When we live in a climate with hot summers, such as Fort Worth, TX, which absolutely requires us to use our air conditioning, we worry about the resulting energy bills. Many of us grew up with the older model air conditioning systems which used electricity like there was a never-ending supply. But this is a new day and air conditioners are more energy-efficient than ever before. Having an air conditioning service plan in place can also help you save money because your system will always run more efficiently.
As of January 2006, the federal government mandated that all new air conditioners (and this includes HVAC systems, room air conditioners, and ductless systems) manufactured after that date must have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. If you have an older air conditioning system that is rated at an 8, and you install a new system rated 16 or higher, you can save as much as 50% on energy bills. Air conditioning does not have to be so expensive that we must suffer in the sweltering heat.
There are many articles online about SEER ratings and what they mean, so by now (especially if you’ve been considering new air conditioning in your home) you’re probably familiar with the yellow label and what it means. Just remember the higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the unit is. What are some other ways to save money on energy bills, while still enjoying the benefits of your air conditioning system?
First and foremost is the need for regular air conditioning service. By keeping your system in good working order, it will run at peak efficiency. Establish a relationship with your local air conditioning professionals by setting up an air conditioning service agreement. Setting up a preventive and predictive maintenance agreement can head off major problems with your air conditioning system, allowing you to make the most of the system you have.
A Good Air Conditioning Service Maintenance Agreement Can Include Such Things As:
- A visual inspection of all units.
- Changing filters.
- A tune-up and check-up before summer heat kicks in and inspections at the end of our Fort Worth, TX summers.
- Parts to repair some problems found during an air conditioning service visit may be included.
- Priority response during an emergency.
Your local air conditioning service company probably has different levels of Service Agreements, but basically the more you pay, the more you’ll receive in value. When you weigh the cost of the Service Agreement against the cost of expensive repairs or installing a new HVAC system altogether, it can be cost-effective to enter into that air conditioning Service Agreement. Keeping your HVAC system in top working order, keeps it working at its highest efficiency level. This means it will last longer and you’ll save the most on your energy bills.
There are Service Agreements (which you’ll pay for on a monthly or quarterly basis) and air conditioning services provided by your local HVAC company. They can provide air conditioning services such as:
- Troubleshooting. When they respond to your call for help, they follow a troubleshooting process designed to narrow down the problem. Once they know what’s wrong, they will give you an estimate — in writing — that spells out exactly what’s wrong, what parts are needed to fix it, and how long it will take.
- A home performance evaluation. They can look at how much energy you use now, and give you suggestions for how to use less energy. As far as air conditioning services go, this is a great one because it helps you save on energy which could allow you to use your air conditioner a little bit more!
- Purchase and installation of a new, energy-efficient HVAC system to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your current system is SEER rated 8 or less, you will save money by installing a new HVAC system. An air conditioning service company will know exactly what kind, brand, and size of system your home needs.
- Emergency repairs. When it’s over 100 degrees outside and you have 20 people coming over to watch a big sporting event, and the air conditioner goes on the blink, you need someone right away … not on Monday afternoon. Every professional air conditioning service company has a manned 24/7 emergency number and they will come out right away.
What Conditions Will Keep Your Air Conditioning from Working Efficiently?
When something goes wrong with your air conditioning, you’ll notice certain symptoms, noises, and behaviors. By paying attention to what your air conditioner is saying, you’ll know when to call for air conditioning service, to keep it working efficiently.
Ductwork May Need to Be Repaired, Replaced or Insulated
The efficiency of your air conditioning can be affected by the ductwork in your home. If it’s old and leaking, then that cool air that should be going into the rooms of your home could be going inside the walls of your home, or into your attic. The HVAC system then has to work harder to cool your home, and that increases your energy bills. Insulating the ductwork can cover up tiny leaks, and keep your cool air cool, as it travels to its destination.
Signs your ductwork needs repair or replacing:
• Your house is always dusty.
• Allergies are worse than usual and there is a lot of sneezing going on.
• Yucky mold or mildewy smells in your home, that you can’t find the reason for.
• The HVAC system is making noise. It should run quietly in the background.
Benefits of new or repaired ductwork:
• Reduced energy bills.
• Better air quality in your home.
• The temperature remains consistent, with no warm spots in certain rooms.
The Air Conditioner May Be Too Small or Too Large for Your Home
If the air conditioning system you choose is too small, it will have to run longer and work harder to keep your home cool. If it’s too big, it will turn off and on more times than necessary which puts wear and tear on the moving parts. Be sure your air conditioning system is the proper size for your home.
Your HVAC System or Air Conditioner Is Too Old
It’s tempting to think that because the system is still working, and your home is still being cooled that there is no need to fix something that ain’t broke. But, a new air conditioning solution could save you some big bucks on energy bills, depending on the SEER rating of the new system.
The Insulation in Your Home Is Inadequate
You could have the best SEER rating available, but if your home can’t retain the cool air, it’s still going to be inefficient when it comes to energy savings. Proper insulation can keep your home cool in the hot summer months we have here in Fort Worth, TX.
Other Ways to Save Money on Energy Bills:
- During the day, close your drapes when the sun is shining directly on your windows. It helps to keep the heat out. You can even buy insulated drapes for more savings.
2. Make a determination about how high you can set the thermostat and still be comfortable. The higher the temperature in your home, means less work on the part of your HVAC system and the more money you’ll save. You’ll also save on air conditioning service because you won’t be using the system as much. But don’t run the HVAC system and still walk around your own home sweating … be comfortable. You’ll know your thermostat is set too low if you have to put a sweater on.
3. Ceiling fans and tabletop fans can be used to circulate the air while you’re in the room. They do this by creating a wind-chill effect, which is only felt by people. Having a fan blowing does nothing to lower the temperature of the room, so if you run fans, turn them off if you’re not in the room.
4. On the hottest days, cook outside if you can. Using the stove and oven creates heat in your home. Use the grill outdoors and make a quick salad in the kitchen, avoiding the use of any heat-producing appliances.
5. Avail yourself of energy-saving solar and wind technology by hanging clothes on the line to dry, instead of running a dryer which also heats the house.
6. Buy new, energy-saving light bulbs. They do not produce heat.
SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating measures the cooling output for every unit manufactured. It works like this: a cooling system must put out more cool air, than the energy it consumes to do it. There is a complicated mathematical formula used to figure this, and that’s why we have SEER ratings … to relieve us from having to do the math. The higher the number on the yellow label means it uses less energy to cool. This saves you money.
Look for the Energy Star label on appliances. It is the trusted label created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that this appliance will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other pollutants and will provide energy-efficient performance.
Not every appliance receives an Energy Star label. In order to do so, they must meet certain qualifications:
• The product must contribute significantly toward saving energy.
• The product must deliver the performance expected by the buyer. For instance, the air conditioner with the Energy Star label must do an exceptional job of cooling your home.
• If the product costs more than another non-Energy Star labeled product, the buyer should be able to recoup their costs in savings on energy bills.
Running an energy-efficient system is also good for the planet. An HVAC system with a SEER rating of 16 or higher can not only save you money on energy bills, but it will also prevent nearly 30,000 lbs. of greenhouse gases from escaping into our atmosphere, over the life of the system. Imagine if everyone’s air conditioning systems did that!
What to Look for in an Air Conditioning Service Company:
- The company should be licensed and bonded.
2. The company should have a 24/7 emergency number to call and have a reputation for a speedy response to customer calls.
3. HVAC contractors should be NATE certified. They should regularly receive training on all new HVAC systems and repairs.
a. NATE certification: Stands for North American Technician Excellence and is a sign of excellence. In order to receive a NATE certification, you must pass a core test and then a specialty exam. The NATE certification assures customers that you have the knowledge and experience to provide air conditioning services in their homes.
4. All the employees should be background checked, drug tested and registered with the state.
5. They should have a brick and mortar place of business, as this shows stability. They should have a history in the community, and you can be assured they will be around when you need them.
Forming a relationship with your local air conditioning service company can pay off in the long run. It’s helpful to know who you’re working with, after all, you will be inviting them into your home. They will not only appreciate your continued business, but it’s helpful for them to know you, and to know your system. It’s the most efficient way to get help when you need it, and it’s just good community to support local businesses.
So, call One Hour Air Conditioning and Heatingin the Fort Worth, TX area today, while you’re thinking about it, and talk to them about a Service Agreement, or a repair you may have been putting off, and get started on a new relationship that will benefit your bottom line, the community, and the planet!