If the heat doesn’t grab your attention, maybe these numbers, Did You Know facts, and insight on ventilation, maintaining your air conditioner, and common AC problems will as another way to look at home cooling.
By the numbers.
Nearly 50 percent . . . of the average household’s energy use goes to space cooling, more in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas area due to extreme humidity and heat in late spring, summer, and early fall. That number is down from nearly 60 percent in 1993 thanks to more energy efficient equipment and an emphasis on making the entire cooling (and heating) ecosystem as efficient as possible.
Nearly 22 percent . . . of all energy consumption for cooling is made up of residential households; businesses account for the remainder. There are approximately 115 million households, averaging nearly 2,000 square foot (2014, Department of Energy).
More than $2,000 . . . it’s what the average household spends on residential energy annually (2009 figure), including HVAC and water heating.
Two-thirds . . . of all U.S. homes have air conditioners, more than three-quarters of homes, duplexes, and condos in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas area.
$11 billion . . . is what it costs U.S. homeowners to power their air conditioners during the summer.
Did You Know?
20 to 50 percent . . . You can reduce your home cooling costs by 20 to 50 percent by upgrading to higher-efficiency air conditioners when your aging units wear out. This will require working with an Arlington air conditioning repair or service contractor.
Replacing air filters . . . is the quickest (and least expensive) way to save energy on home cooling.
When there is excessive humidity in the air . . . which happens frequently during the spring and summer in Arlington, our body’s inability to cool itself through perspiration is inhibited. Air conditioners make us feel cooler by reducing the amount of moisture in the air.
More than 20 percent . . . of all energy may be lost to air leaks, poor insulation, and inefficient cooling and heating systems.
Reduce heating and cooling costs 10 to 35 percent annually . . . by installing low-e storm windows and weatherstripping.
Save as much as 10 percent . . . on heating and cooling bills annually by simply turning thermostats back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day.
Ventilation is the least expensive and most energy efficient way to cool a home, although it’s often an early spring/fall thought for homeowners here in Arlington because the humidity and heat in the summer make ventilation solutions inefficient and impractical.
Even so, ventilation is top of mind for homeowners in cooler climates and a passing thought for Arlington residents in the early spring and fall.
Natural ventilation . . . relies on wind to create a “chimney effect” to cool a home. A simple natural ventilation strategy is to open windows and create a cross breeze.
Fans . . . circulate air in a room, creating a wind chill effect that makes us feel more comfortable. Ceiling and floor fans are commonly found in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas area homes and require little energy and no servicing or repair from Arlington-area air conditioning companies! Fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when leaving for the day.
Whole house fans . . . used to be a staple in Texas homes, although they are seen less and less in newer construction. These fans pull air through windows and exhaust it through the home’s attic and roof. To ensure proper sizing, safety, and performance, an Arlington air conditioning repair or service contractor should design and install these fans. Surprisingly, even on the hottest days, whole house fans can provide sufficient cooling.
Help Maintaining Your Air Conditioner
Annual maintenance and routine servicing from an Arlington air conditioning repair and service contractor helps improve your comfort, the equipment’s efficiency, and prolongs the life of the unit(s). It also helps lower your monthly energy bill.
Replace or clean air filters . . . can lower your AC’s energy consumption by five to 15 percent.
Checking the AC’s evaporator coil and cleaning it as necessary, which will be done by an Arlington air conditioning service tech during a semi-annual checkup, is a great way to keep your equipment running at peak performance.
If coil fins are bent, use a “fin comb” to straighten. The comb can be found at any home improvement center in the Arlington, Fort Worth, or Dallas area or, if you prefer not to mess with it, your Arlington air conditioning repair or service tech will do the work for you.
If you have a split system — some equipment outside, the rest inside — be sure to clean debris and leaves from the fan, compressor, and condenser. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.
Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to prevent clogs. If you don’t know where the drain channel is, ask the Arlington air conditioning repair and service tech the next time he is at your home. This is an easy thing to do and can be done when you routinely replace an air filter.
If you have window air conditioners, routinely inspect the window seals to keep cool air from escaping, which often happens as the seal cracks and becomes less efficient with age.
Common Air Conditioner Problems
So the unit isn’t cooling properly . . .
- The refrigerant could be low or leaking. Call your Arlington air conditioning repair and service contractor to inspect, repair (if needed), and recharge the system. It is not recommended that homeowners handle refrigerant issues because the service techs have the needed equipment, material, and knowledge the rest of us do not.
- If you have a window unit, the thermostat sensor could be knocked out of position. It’s not a repair you need to call a service tech for — just carefully bend the wire holding the thermostat back in place to properly position it.
- Even inside the home there could be thermostat issues. Check the thermostat to make sure it is properly seated and making flush contact at all connection points. In battery-operated units, it’s easy to pull the thermostat face off the wall, replace the batteries, then misalign the contacts when replacing the face.
- Check your AC unit’s drain to make sure it isn’t clogged. You can do this when you change air filters or during the summer when humidity is an issue. A friend once responded to a call made by a house sitter when a clogged drain in the attic he was watching overflowed and the ceiling came crashing down.
- Check for a dirty filter. Yes, it’s worth repeating over and over and over.
When the unit isn’t turning on . . .
- The compressor and fan controls could be worn from having the system turn on and off too frequently. Call your Arlington air conditioning repair or service contractor for this one.
- Check that thermostat again. It seems so stupid, but the thermostat may just need new batteries. Carefully pull the faceplate off the thermostat and make sure you know what kind of batteries are needed — AA or AAA, usually. Depending on age of the thermostat, you may need to replace it entirely which, for the most part, is a relatively expense.
When there is limited airflow . . .
- Could be a ductwork issue. The ducts could be leaking air or be clogged or constricted. Again, an issue for a pro service tech.
- Check for a dirty air filter. A clogged filter restricts airflow and decreases efficiency.