Survivalists say you can go three weeks without food, three days without water and three minutes without oxygen. Arizonans say, when the heat index hits triple digits on a hot summer’s day, you can go about three hours without air conditioning before serious panic sets in. Let’s face it, Arizonans love their AC. As the Valley of the Sun sizzles in the months of June, July, August and September, utility bills soar with the rising temperatures. When it comes to paying for electricity, some normally cool customers can get a little hot under the collar.
How to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bill
It’s a simple equation, the lower you set the temperature on your thermostat, the higher your electric bill will be at the end of the month. Air conditioning uses more electricity than any other appliance in your home. In Phoenix, during the summer months, AC can be responsible for up to 70 percent of your total utility bill. Unless you have unlimited resources, wise choices and a little common sense can help reduce your electric bill. Lowering your energy usage by 5 to 10 percent could mean extra money for other family adventures. Here are a few steps you can take to live in comfort and not see red at the end of the month:
- Say Hello to the High Seventies Indoors – Could you be cool with the thermostat set in the high seventies? You’ll save a lot of money if you can. Doctors say it takes about two weeks in the beginning of summer for our bodies to acclimatize. Why not try adjusting the thermostat setting upward one degree every two days until you reach 78. Wear light, breathable cotton, drink plenty of water, exercise early in the morning and take cold showers.
- Block Out Curtains, Blinds and UV Shades – When you leave the curtains and shades open, the UV rays from the sun heat up your house in a hurry. The idea is to prevent heat gain in your home by blocking out the sun as efficiently as possible. Highly reflective blinds and shades installed as close as possible to the windows will help reduce the inside temperature significantly.
- Install Ceiling Fans in Every Room – As summer approaches and you slowly increase the indoor temperature up to 78 degrees, it’s nice to know that ceiling fans can make you feel 6-7 degrees cooler due to the breeze and wind chill effect on your skin. Remember to turn fans off when you’re not using a room. Ceiling fans don’t actually lower the temperature in your home, just your perception of heat. Ceiling fans in bedrooms are a must.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat – Consider installing a new programmable thermostat which will increase your ability to control your environment and allow you to adjust the temperature much more easily. You can even change the settings through an app on your phone. Smart products, such as Nest, learn your habits and schedule and provide you with helpful data about cooling your home, so you are better able to track what’s working for you.
Schedule an AC Home Inspection in May
One of the best ways to save money on AC is to schedule a pre-summer system inspection to make sure your air conditioner is ready for the blistering summer ahead. We take the time to get to know your HVAC system and fix small problems before they become big breakdowns. Don’t put off your spring service. Call us today.
Summer is just around the corner, and Arizona residents know the drill. The pleasant temperatures of May will soon be replaced by scorching triple digit days of June. In the Valley of the Sun, global warming is more than a catchy phrase. When Phoenix temperatures top 100 degrees, effective, balanced air conditioning is critical – especially if you have kids home from school during the day or you work from home – or both. In spring, as people fire up their air conditioning units for the first time, we often receive calls about AC “not working” in a particular room or section of the house.
There are many reasons for temperature differences from one part of the house to another. Achieving cool temperature balance in every room in your home is a challenge that often requires professional adjustment. Depending on when your home was built, the AC balance may have become off kilter for a variety of reasons. One of the most common factors contributing to reduced airflow has to do with loose or leaky duct seams. Ducts, especially in the attic, are susceptible to extreme heat in the summer (in excess of 140 degrees) which causes them to expand and then they contract in the cooler, winter weather. This contraction process causes cracks which leak cool air.
Here are other reasons for imbalanced air conditioning:
- Blocked or Closed Vents – Sometimes a simple home inspection will reveal vents which have been inexplicably blocked or closed for reasons unknown. Moved furniture blocking vents is very common. Vents closed during winter and forgotten happens quite often.
- Sagging or Drooping Ducts – As years go by and houses settle, ducts can begin to droop and sag. Often cracks will appear in the sagging seams, releasing cool air in where it doesn’t belong.
- Undersized or Improperly Installed Ducts – If your HVAC was not installed correctly to begin with then you will eventually encounter balance issues. Undersized ductwork is a problem we see time and again. There’s no excuse for it. However, it will negatively impact you air conditioner until it’s fixed.
- Rooms Furthest Away from the Air Conditioner – When the air conditioning unit is placed at one end of the home and you have, for instance, a home office on the other end, you may encounter problems achieving the proper temperature balance. Especially if the room in question is facing south and receives significant sunlight each day. This is a particularly vexing problem that won’t be remedied until your ducts are adjusted to attain properly balanced airflow.
We would love to tell you that all the homes we service have perfect ductwork. However, that’s simply not the case. There are many more factors our expert service technicians will check when you schedule a spring tune up for your entire HVAC system. As summer approaches, be proactive. Don’t wait until the heat is on and your AC is off. Call us today for a balanced, trouble free summer of cool fun.
When it comes to air conditioning, many desert dwellers tell themselves they don’t mind paying a little extra during the summer months for relief from the sweltering Arizona heat. Any time you’re out and about in withering triple digit temperatures, you’re reminded just how serious the heat can be in the aptly named Valley of the Sun. It’s comforting to know, when you get home you can turn up the air conditioning and literally chill out. However, as the utility bills soar through the summer, and the charges add up, you might ask yourself, “Isn’t there something I can do to lower my utility bills?”
April Is the Perfect Month to Prepare for Summer
Spring comes early to Phoenix, and summer often overstays its welcome. In April, temperatures are still moderate, generally hovering in the low to mid-eighties. It’s ideal, shirt sleeves weather and the perfect time of year to schedule a spring tune up to assess all the major systems designed to keep your house cool during the long summer months ahead. Remember, there’s more to creating total home AC comfort than changing the air filters from time to time. Here’s a list of other strategies that can help reduce your energy profile when it comes to cooling your home:
- Schedule Your Spring HVAC Inspection – One of the most important items on an AC checklist is to schedule the professionals from Bruce’s Air Conditioning to perform a complete inspection and evaluation of your entire HVAC system. With components located inside, outside and in many homes, up on the roof, air conditioning systems are incredibly complex and contain numerous electrical, mechanical and moving parts that need to be checked and fine-tuned to maximize efficiency. For instance, if your AC system is low on refrigerant or has dirty condenser coils, it will need to work harder and use more energy to lower the temperature in your home.
- Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat – If you have an older, manual thermostat, you know how easy it is to forget to turn it down when you go out or on extended trips. Wi-fi enabled, programmable smart thermostats learn your routine and regulate settings according to your habits, such as when you go to work and when you’re home on weekends. And they adjust the temperature throughout the night. You can program your thermostat from an app on your mobile device. By giving you more control, smart thermostats pay for themselves with the money you save on energy.
- Add Ceiling Fans and Switch to Block Out Window Shades – Ceiling fans do a great job of creating breezes that make you feel cooler. This allows you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher, particularly at night. If you haven’t already installed fans throughout your home, consider doing so before the summer hits. Solar UV block out window shades can help reduce the temperature in your home by keeping the sun’s heat and harmful UV rays out, especially on large, south facing windows. It’s also a great idea to do a walk-through inspection of your home to make sure your vents are not blocked.
Cool Air from Your HVAC Unit Will Make This Summer a Breeze
Setting aside a few hours on a Saturday afternoon in April or May to prepare your house for the hot summer ahead will pay big dividends in your monthly electric bill. Remember, small problems brushed off in springtime can lead to bigger breakdowns in the middle of summer. Why not schedule your spring service today, before the truly hot weather descends on the valley?
Three things happen when spring rolls into Phoenix. Baseball shifts gears from Cactus League practice games to the Diamondbacks’ regular season. The valley explodes with color from budding trees and flora of all types. And homeowners crank up their air conditioners for the first time. After sitting idle for many months, it’s not uncommon for your air conditioner to experience some issues.
Your Trusty Air Conditioner
For the most part, air conditioners are tremendously hardworking, complex appliances that operate under intense weather conditions including extreme heat, powerful dust storms, high winds and driving rain from monsoons. These desert conditions can cause accelerated wear and tear on your HVAC system. Depending on the number of years your air conditioner has been operating, you may be experiencing problems that require immediate service. Here are some of the most common problems we see every spring:
- Failed Capacitors – Electrical issues are responsible for 80 percent of all AC repairs, and failed capacitors are one of the most common problems we find in Phoenix area HVAC systems. Mostly due to normal wear and tear, capacitors can also be damaged by electrical power surges or fluctuations in power from thunderstorms. Often, a visual inspection will reveal a clearly burned out capacitor, though sometimes capacitors appear normal but are not functioning properly. Electrical issues are best left to trained professionals. Our friendly service technicians will test your air conditioner for any and all electrical problems which may be affecting your system.
- Low Refrigerant – Your air conditioners refrigerant lines comprise a completely sealed and closed system, which means in a perfect world, the amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner should never be less than full. Unfortunately, over time, leaks can and do develop, generally in the coils or fittings. Other than a hissing sound, which may or may not be audible, there is really no way to spot a leak without special equipment. We often detect low refrigerant during our spring tune-ups as air conditioners have had ample time for gas to slowly escape through tiny pin prick holes over the winter months.
- Burned Out Fans or Blowers – Fans and blowers, after sitting motionless for months, may have a problem firing up in spring. Depending on the age of your air conditioner and again, due to normal wear and tear, fan and blower motors will simply stop working. Occasionally, with some coaxing and lubrication, they can start working again, but often, these are parts that need to be replaced at some point in their useful working life.
- Water Leaks from Plugged Drains – The condensation drain line can get plugged up for a variety of reasons. You may notice a slight trickle of water around or beneath the drain pan under the evaporator. Common causes include mold or algae in the pipes or plain old gunk build up. Homeowners often think it’s normal for some water to run off their AC system. However, a plugged condensation drain line can cause other, more serious issues.
Another Common Problem – Forgetting to Schedule Service
One thing we all are guilty of from time to time is forgetting to call for service. It’s easy to overlook your air conditioner. For most homeowners, it’s out of sight – out of mind. However, with air conditioners being as complex as they are, often small problems can turn into bigger problems which can lead to unwanted breakdowns in the middle of summer. A spring tune-up will ensure a cool, comfortable summer.
Unless you’re an electrician or in the HVAC business, most air conditioning related terms are somewhat puzzling. Condenser, compressor, capacitor and contactor relate to specific parts in your air conditioner (and those are just the ones that begin with the letter “c”). As a busy homeowner, you can’t possibly be expected to understand all the systems in your home. Most people feel lucky if they can figure out the TV remote, program the DVR and keep the Wi-Fi system up and running.
Some Words Are Worth More Than Others
HVAC systems tend to reside in the background of home life. Generally, people only pay attention to their air conditioner when something goes wrong. However, there are times when knowing a little something about air conditioners can be helpful. If you’re in the process of doing research to purchase a new air conditioning system or if you are considering a significant upgrade to your air conditioner this spring, a little knowledge can go a long way. Here are a few AC words and terms that can put money in your pocket:
- Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Thermostats – Smart thermostats represent a significant innovation in HVAC technology and can offer you considerable savings on your monthly energy bills. Though Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostats are more expensive than programmable models, they provide additional tools for you to manage the temperature in your home. With a standard thermostat, it’s easy to forget to adjust the setting when you leave for work or go on vacation. Smart thermostats learn your tendencies and adjust automatically. As well, Wi-Fi enabled means you have the added convenience of being able to talk to your thermostat through an app installed on your mobile device. Other advantages include advanced tracking features so you can tell how much energy you are using at any given time, verses waiting until the end of the month to receive your electric bill.
- SEER Rating – In the U.S., all air conditioners are given a SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Much like miles-per-gallon for automobiles, SEER ratings indicate energy efficiency for air conditioners. The higher the MPG, the better the fuel efficiency for your car. With AC systems, a higher SEER rating means less electricity will be used to achieve the same cool temperatures in your home. The minimum standard SEER rating in Arizona is 14. SEER ratings go all the way go all the way up to 25. When considering a new air conditioner, go for the highest SEER rating possible. Raising your SEER rating from 13 to 20 will cut up to 30 percent off your monthly utility bills. The energy savings will add up over time and help pay for the cost of your new system.
- Variable Speed Technology – Older AC systems were built with single speed fans for the blower and compressor. This means that older air conditioners turn on and run at full capacity until your house is cooled to the desired temperature and then they shut down. It’s on full blast or it’s off. This cycle repeats endlessly throughout the days, weeks and months of summer. New air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings utilize variable speed technology, which is designed to run your air conditioner at the optimal speed for maximum energy efficiency. Variable speed blower fans and compressors use the least amount of power required to achieve the preferred temperature in your home.
We Provide Great Service on Your Terms
At Bruce’s Air Conditioning, we pride ourselves on providing first rate professional service on your terms. When you schedule a spring tune-up, our friendly service technicians will take the time to perform a full inspection of your AC system and provide you with a complete system evaluation. Summer will be here before you know it. Don’t wait until the last minute to assess your air conditioning system.