Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

May 17, 2013

How to get the most out of your air conditioner this summer

Experts say it's all about preventive maintenance

With the summer season fast approaching, many people are either purchasing a new air conditioner or repairing the one they have. Those who have central air conditioning will need a bit of maintenance to make sure it's working at full capacity.

According to the folks at Interstate, a New York City air conditioning and heating company, having routine maintenance on your air conditioner twice a year will save you a lot of money down the road.

Based on the company's statistics, the average household spends more than $2,500 a year on energy bills; $1,100 of that goes to heating and $1,400 goes toward keeping the home cool.

Saving money

A good way to save about $180 a year on air conditioning is to get a programmable thermostat. And changing the coil in your air conditioner will save you good money, too.

"A dirty coil reduces the system's ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, increasing your energy costs and shortening the life of your equipment," said the company in a statement. "A dirty coil can raise your bill by 30 percent."

According to Frank Alexander, of Alexander Heating and Air Conditioning in North Carolina, there are certain things you can do to determine if the coil in your air conditioner needs replacing.

The company's website says if a technician tells you that your coil needs replacing, he or she should be able to tell you exactly where the leak is as well. If the technician can't, you should be a little suspicious.

"Freon carries a lubricant and that residue is visible most times below the leak," writes Alexander on the site. "It looks like dark wet spots, like burnt cooking oil. Most of the time this will be visible but it may be impossible to see it. Ask your technician how they determined the leak was in the coil. They should be able to tell you where the leak is."

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