Air conditioning tips keep you from sweating repairs

By on July 31, 2015

People have been beating the heat since 1926, thanks to Willis Haviland Carrier, an American engineer, who invented modern air conditioning for homes. Fast forward 89 years later and more than two-thirds of all U.S. homes have air conditioning, spending more than $11 billion annually in cooling costs.*

There’s a reason why we’re spending so much. Here in hot South Texas, the HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) system makes up almost 60 percent of your energy bill during the summer. If you’re keeping your thermostat set to an ideal temperature like 78 to 80, your system will run on average 12 hours out of a 24-hour period. But if the temperature outside is more than 20 degrees higher than your thermostat setting, i.e. thermostat is at 78 and heat index is 102, then your air conditioning system will run even more.

To help your HVAC system run as efficiently as possible, make sure you do regular maintenance. After all, it’s been working hard for you.

If you neglect your system, you may have to call a professional. But before you do, here is a list of common air conditioner problems and some troubleshooting tips.

Common air conditioner problems

Got an old thermostat? Enroll in our Smart Thermostat program and receive a free WiFi programmable thermostat. Take control of your homes comfort right from your mobile device. Our Smart Thermostat can save you up to 10% on your heating and cooling costs.

*Source: energysavers.gov

RELATED STORIES:

Minimizing summer heat impact to your bill 

Humidity: bad for hair and energy bills

CPS Energy, customers partner to reduce energy demand

This Post Has 40 Comments
  1. Lauren Woodley on said:

    Wow, I had no idea that the HVAC system takes up 60% of my energy bill during the summer! That being said, you talk about how keeping the thermostat at an ideal temperature can help you regulate this system and help you to be more efficient, and I definitely agree. Additionally, I think that doing regular maintenance and cleaning will help you to ensure that everything in the unit is working properly and efficiently, too. Thank you for sharing!

    • Albert on said:

      Thank you Lauren! We appreciate you taking the time to comment. We’re glad to know the information we are sharing is helping. Have a great weekend but stay safe, lots of rain on the way. -Albert Cantu

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Lauren,

      Thank you for your feedback we really appreciate it. We love it when we can offer information to our customers that can make a difference in their day to day life around electricity. Have a wonderful weekend. -Albert

  2. Avery Grey on said:

    My husband and I recently moved into a new home and we have been having a few issues with our AC. It doesn’t feel like it is cooling the whole house and it is costing us a lot more money than we expected. I am thinking that there is a repair that needs to made to the sensor or the coolant so we will have to look into that. Thank you for sharing these insights, they will definitely help!

    • Albert on said:

      Thank you Avery for your feedback, we appreciate that. Sounds like you might have a number of issues. You’ll know you have a freon leak because your system will not blow cool air and the freon pipe will literally ice over. If you see ice that’s a telltale sign you’ve got a leak. Like my Facebook page “You Can Too with Cantu” and watch the Dan Chambers segment. He was having issues like you, turns out it was with the duct work not being engineered correctly. He had uneven cooling in the house. Keep us posted on what you find. Thank you. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. -Albert C

  3. Jeff Madison on said:

    I really appreciated your tip on doing regular maintenance on your AC unit. I didn’t know that running an AC at 20 degrees less than the outside temperature could put extra stress on it. It sounds like these tips could help save a lot of money, however if things ever do break down with my HVAC unit I think spending a few bucks to call a professional is worth the comfort.

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Jeff!!

      Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post. We appreciate your feedback. We’ll continue to put out more blogs that will be helpful for customers like you.

      -Albert Cantu

  4. Maggie Allen on said:

    Thanks for sharing all of this advice on keeping your air conditioning running smoothly by maintaining it. I had no idea that the system could be running for more than 12 hours every single day— that’s a lot of working time! If that’s the case, I can definitely see how the US is spending up to $11 billion annually.

  5. Lindsey Menhusen Jensen on said:

    As an HVAC Engineer Colorado Springs
    I confirm that spraying the condenser coil will improve the ability/efficiency of your AC unit.

    It is, however, important to remember that the coil can be sensitive to high pressure water, which could cause deformation. I recommend feeling the metal softly so you get an idea for how firm it is, and keeping the water low to start and increase slowly. Finally, you should also spray THROUGH the coil, not at the sides.

  6. Sarah Anderson on said:

    Letting your Air conditioning unit have plants grow all over the side of it will cause you a lot of problems. You are going to be spending a good chunk of cash on repairs for it in no time. Keep plants clear of your AC, this way it doesn’t break down, and you don’t have to pay to fix it as often.

  7. Aria Wellington on said:

    Cleaning the unit is such a great idea. During the fall, a lot of leaves and dead branches can get stuck and crowd your air conditioning unit outside so it is a good idea to check it every now and then. We need to give ours a tune up before the hot months really set in, thanks for these great tips!

  8. Aria Wellington on said:

    Albert, do you know the best way to clean our air ducts? I recently moved into an apartment and I don’t think that the air is flowing very well. Everything seems to be functioning properly but I can’t really feel the cold air unless I’m standing right by the vent. I will have to look into talking with a professional like you suggest. Thanks!

  9. Kevin on said:

    Albert,

    You’ve provided some great tips as well as covered some important issues/topics. Replacing the filter regularly being the most important.

    I have heard the debate over pleated filters though. As you know the percentage of people who forget to replace their filter regularly is very high. Causing air flow restrictions, not to mention the pleated filters are already more restrictive by design. Thus causing the blower motor to run at higher amps, higher run temps and shortening the lifespan of motor.

    I’d much rather let some dust bypass the cheap/less restrictive filter and clean the coil/blower housing as needed. This would include the cost of maintenance yearly but is actually required by the manufactures these days to maintain their warranties(not upheld usually though). Plus this regular maintenance would increase efficiency and lower energy usage/save money.

    Of course if the filters don’t get replaced but once a year or when the coil freezes up neither option matters.

    What’s your thoughts on the restrictive filter debate?

  10. Lillian Moore on said:

    Thanks for the post! I thought it was interesting that 60% of your energy bill can be spent just on keeping the HVAC system running. When the heat rises about 20 degrees above your set temperature the system works even harder to keep up with the demand for air conditioning. My home has a swamp cooler instead of a full A/C and I end up having it run nonstop during the summer when it is just too hot to do anything. I really appreciate the advice you have given in this article, I will need to get my system on a more regular maintenance schedule.

  11. Sarah Smith on said:

    Thanks so much for the list of common problems with an air conditioning unit. My husband is in the process of finding someone to come in and repair our broken air conditioner. I appreciate this list so that when our AC unit is fixed we can keep it properly maintained.

  12. Sarah Smith on said:

    My AC unit broke down this past week and I’m trying to find someone to fix it. In the meantime, I’m also trying to find ways to keep my unit running smoothly after its fixed. Thanks for the list of common problems with AC units.

  13. Audrey Kinley on said:

    My husband told me that our A.C. hasn’t been working properly lately, and I was pretty worried. I looked up some common issues, and now I’m thinking that it was the filter. I think I may just hire a professional to come and look at our A.C. Wouldn’t want to break anything anymore that it is broken.

  14. Gregory Willard on said:

    Since summer is in full swing, I have started to worry about my Air conditioner. I had no idea that if your thermostat is set 20 degrees below what the outside temperature is then it will run more. I always thought that you were safe if it was 20 degrees lower. I will have to remember that.

  15. Jorge McMillan on said:

    I’m so grateful for Willis Haviland Carrier for creating the AC unit. Without my AC unit, it would be so hard to enjoy my home and be comfortable while being home. I’ve been wanting to learn more about regular maintenance like you mentioned, so I’m hoping to find a good professional that I can call if things go bad with my AC unit.

    • Albert on said:

      Jorge, thanks for taking time to read our blog post. We’re glad you found it informative. If you got any questions please feel free to reach out to us on our Social Media channels. -Albert Cantu

  16. Alise Harper on said:

    I have been noticing that the thermostat has not been working correctly it will say a temperature but the house still doesn’t feel cold. Thanks for your information on common air conditioner problems. I am glad to know the problem I am having is relatively common. I will definitely call my local ac contractor to help fix the problem. Thanks for the information.

    • Albert on said:

      Hi Alise! Thanks for reading our blog. Sounds like you could have a problem with your thermostat but you won’t know the real cause until you have a licensed professional inspect it for you. Good luck. Albert Cantu

  17. Brooke McAvoy on said:

    I really appreciate your list of the common issues with air conditioning. I have recently had a lot of trouble with my air conditioner which is pretty unfortunate in the summer. We got it all figured out, but I definitely realized that I need to step my maintenance game up! This list will be helpful to me and I will definitely be taking your maintenance advice, thank you!

    • Albert on said:

      Thanks Brooke! We’re glad our blog was informative for you. Good luck and here’s to an efficient system this summer. -Albert Cantu

  18. connorleo88 on said:

    Thanks a lot for this great informative blog for apliance repair. Thanks for sharing this blog. I really get great knowledge for me. I hope you further post this type of article.

    • Albert on said:

      Thank you Connorleo88 for reading our article. Glad to see you found it most informative. Please feel free to share it. -Albert Cantu

  19. James Pryor on said:

    During the last month, I have replaced my 12-year-old, 4-ton, 10-SEER unit with a 17-SEER, two-stage complete system for $10,000. The dual stages mean that the system should run as a 2-ton unit unless it is under severe load. Yet with all other factors being the same, my monthly energy usage has been close to the same amount as last year (approximately 60 kwHr per day). Although this summer is hotter than last year, I still would expect a significant drop in my energy usage, say, 40 percent. Am I being unreasonable to expect a significant return on my investment? At my request, the installer has recently checked and confirmed that everything on the system is functioning as it should. My indoor temperature is set at 76 degrees, the same as last year.

    • Albert on said:

      Hi James, We apologize for the late response. Our blog system has been down for a while. Although your new system is a lot more energy efficient, how is your insulation? How much air infiltration do you have? Is the home leaky? Are the windows in good condition, do they leak? All these factors could play a roll in how your HVAC system operates. Based on our rate of 10.4 cents per Kilowatt Hr, the 10 SEER is about $1,117 a year and the new 17 SEER is about $657 a year that’s a $460 difference. Divide that by 12 and its about $38 less a month, which is a 41% savings. So I don’t think your being too unreasonable about the lack of savings. There may be other factors involved. Now we do recommend keeping the thermostat set 78-80 degrees for optimal cooling and for efficiency and use ceiling fans in rooms that are occupied. Try turning it up 3-4 degrees when you leave the home for extra savings. And you may want to consider a home energy audit to see if there are any other areas in need of improvements.

      Thanks for writing in James.

      -Albert

  20. Jade Brunet on said:

    I did not know that people have been battling the heat with air conditioning since 1926. I find that this is a great invention that allows us to accomplish lots of things in life. Thanks for the tip about the importance of regular maintenance. Something to consider would be finding a professional to do repairs for a reasonable price.

  21. Justin Knox on said:

    I have been having some problems with my air conditioning this summer, so this is definitely a help. I have not really done regular HVAC maintenance though. How often do you think that it is necessary to have my AC unit inspected?

    • Albert on said:

      Hey Justin,

      Thanks for chiming in. It’s recommended that your HVAC system be serviced twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall. Your goal is to make sure it’s working efficiently and won’t breakdown on you during extreme hot and cold temperatures. September 22 is the first day of fall so that’s a good time to schedule a tune-up. Have a great weekend. -Albert Cantu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2013, CPS Energy. All rights reserved.