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Spring 2011

Simple Reasons Not to Neglect AC Maintenance

Especially if you’ve just had a new air conditioning unit installed, it’s tempting to assume the system is working fine and leave it alone. After all, you just spent a good deal of money on that state of the art system. Why spend even more to have someone check for problems that likely don’t exist?

This line of reasoning seems to make sense. But the truth is that the better you are at keeping up with regular maintenance on your AC system, the more you’ll save in the long run on your energy bills and the longer your system will last.

What Goes into Good AC Maintenance?

The problem is that a lot of people don’t understand what actually goes into regular air conditioning maintenance. Sure, changing out air filters is an important part of it, but there’s actually a lot more involved in keeping an AC system functioning properly.

The cooling coil needs to be cleaned thoroughly at least once a year. Without this type of attention, the coil is sure to accumulate sediment and debris which in turn impedes its ability to cool the air that passes across it.

The dirtier your cooling coil is, the harder your air conditioner must work to keep your home cool. And if your air conditioner is working harder, it’s using more energy and costing you more each month on your cooling bill.

But really the increased monthly cooling costs will be the least of your concerns if you don’t get your AC unit the proper care it needs each year. That’s because regular maintenance also allows a technician to thoroughly inspect your system for any damaged parts, leaks or cracks that could put more strain on the unit or cause it to break down entirely in the near future.

This type of preventative work is the best way to ensure that you won’t have to call for emergency repairs. Problems can often be caught early, even before they start to show symptoms. And even if repairs are required, they’ll be much less expensive than if the problem was allowed to develop further and affect other parts of your home comfort system.

Since an AC system is so expensive to purchase and have installed, you want to make sure it lasts for a good long time. Regular maintenance visits are the best way to ensure that your system continues to work well for its expected lifespan and potentially longer. After all, the longer your system lasts, the less you will have paid each year, and that cost savings will more than pay for the yearly maintenance visits.

 

Upgrade Fixtures in Your House for Benefits Now and Later

Modern fixtures are designed for energy efficiency, even those on the low end of the price scale. If you have a toilet that is 30 years old or a refrigerator that is 20 years old, the odds are that a brand new fixture will cost you far less than your existing model. Here are a few systems and fixtures in your home that might need an upgrade in the not too distant future.

  • Toilets – Today there are low flush toilets that can operate on 1.4 GPF or lower, allowing you to use significantly less water per flush than a standard toilet. These toilets are inexpensive, easy to install and highly recommended by the EPA to save water and reduce your bill. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to conserve water and save money.
  • Shower Heads – A low flow shower head can help as well. In the past, these devices were uncomfortable. Today, with aeration, temperature control and easy on/off buttons for when you’re lathering soap, you can save water without sacrificing your comfort level.
  • Faucets – Faucets should have aerators on them to reduce how much water you use when you wash dishes or clean. Low flow aerating faucets are incredibly easy to install and will save you a lot of money over the life of the device. 
  • Light Fixtures – New light fixtures should be installed if your old ones don’t support the new CFL light bulbs designed to last longer and use less electricity. Always consult an electrician before installing new fixtures.
  • HVAC Equipment – Your existing Furnace may have a low AFUE rating which can be upgraded to save you a tremendous amount of money over the life of the device. Air conditioners today are also much more efficient than they once were – if your systems are older than 10 years, have them inspected and replaced soon.
  • Sprinkler Systems – If you have a sprinkler system installed in your yard, make sure it is low flow and that it covers only the areas of your lawn necessary to keep it alive and healthy. Don’t let the sprinklers spray water on your home or overlap with each other, wasting water.

There are dozens of ways to upgrade and save money around your home. Sit down today and start brainstorming which methods will work best for you and your family – how much money can you save versus what you will spend and how cost effective is the upgrade. If your furnace is brand new but not the highest AFUE, you may want to wait a little while until it is older, but a toilet is always ready for an upgrade, especially to a low flush model.