The two biggest energy using appliances in your home are your furnace and your central air conditioner. Squeezing out every percentage of efficiency that you can from your heating and cooling systems can lower your monthly utility bills to save a considerable amount of money for each season that they are used. Homeowners seem to naturally schedule service calls to inspect a furnace system before the heating season begins, and it probably has to do with concerns over potential fire and even carbon monoxide hazards. The low regard of safety concerns for AC systems can leave them lacking in maintenance to keep them running at peak efficiency, and many homeowners never schedule AC service until there is a problem.
The Subtle Loss of AC Cooling
The only real way to determine an absolute loss of cooling capability in a central air system is to have a record of the temperature of the chilled air at a vent when the system was new to compare it. A good indicator of loss of efficiency is also increased monthly energy bills in the summer without it being any hotter than last year and without a per kilowatt hour rate increase on your utility bill. Things that can cause subtle loss of your central air conditioning system’s ability to cool your home include dirty condenser and evaporator coils, low refrigerant levels, dirty air filters, and improperly adjusted duct and vent dampers for the summer cooling season. All of these things can be quickly addressed in a routine service call.
Old AC Systems
Have you considered the age of your central air conditioning system and the influence that has on the amount of energy you use to cool your home? Energy.gov states that, “Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s.” It is not unfeasible for homes to have an AC system 40 years old, but maybe yours is nowhere near that old. Still, the government website devoted to educating consumers about energy usage indicates that even a central air system a decade old can be using 40% more energy than a new system. Electricity savings at that level can help pay for a new central air system over its lifespan. If your furnace is decades old too, then a complete heating and cooling upgrade could offer significant energy savings.
Whether you have an air conditioning system that is just a few years old or one that would qualify for an antique license plate if it was a car, proper servicing and maintenance will help you keep it running at its peak efficiency. A qualified technician can give you the energy usage specs for your existing system compared to what a modern central air system uses. That information combined with how much you pay per kilowatt hour of electricity and your summer electric bills can be used to calculate how much you can save with a system replacement.