Is your air conditioner causing higher electric bills?

Air conditioners use a lot of electricity. But if your utility bills seem a bit higher or even sky-high compared to normal, there may be a very logical explanation for it. It could be the performance of your air conditioner or home cooling system. Here are some possible reasons for poor performance:

Dirty Air Filter

The first place to start is always with your air filter. Air filters keep your entire system cleaner and even help you and your family breathe easier.

When they aren’t replaced regularly, dirt and dust will build upon the filter and will slow down natural airflow through the system. Not to mention that you are basically breathing in what your filter lets through; the dirtier it is, the more chance that some of that dust and dirt will get through and into your ductwork.

Restricted airflow also causes your unit to take longer to cool your home down which increases run times, and that can cause you to have high electric bills.

Duct Leaks

Your duct work distributes cool or warm air throughout your home. A duct leak reduces your system’s ability to distribute air and satisfy your thermostat. If your air conditioner is taking longer to satisfy your thermostat, then it’s going to run harder, longer and subsequently cause higher utility bills.

Proper airflow is vital to having a healthy and efficient system. Read more here.

Low Refrigerant

Air conditioners and heat pumps, use refrigerant to transfer heat and remove it from the home. So if your system is low on refrigerant, your system won’t be able to remove heat efficiently. You’ll see an increase in your bills because the system is working harder and harder to satisfy the thermostat.

If your system is low on refrigerant, it is most likely a leak. In that case, you’ll want a professional to diagnose the problem and recommend the best approach to repair it.

Failing Parts

Sometimes, things just wear out. Parts such as motors, compressors, and capacitors can fall into this category. Because they cause lower efficiency, failing parts on your system may result in a higher electric or utility bill. Remember, the longer it takes to satisfy your thermostat, the more your system runs and the more energy it uses. This can also lead to costly breakdowns.

Lack of Maintenance

Nearly all new home comfort systems have maintenance as a requirement for their manufacturer warranties. That’s because they realize the importance of it. Having a qualified expert evaluate and maintain your system every year can help you get a longer life from it and live more comfortably at the same time. How’s that for a win-win?

Plus, regular maintenance can help prevent breakdowns, which never happen when it’s convenient, but tend to occur on the hottest to coldest days of the year. And breakdowns don’t know it’s a holiday!

Simple maintenance also helps maintain a lower utility bill. Things, like cleaning a coil or replacing a part, can make all the difference between your system taking of you and you having to take care of your system.

Age of System

Newer is almost always better, right? It certainly is when it comes to home comfort systems. In fact, new higher SEER systems (a rating that stands for Seasonal Energy and Efficiency Ratio) can save 20 percent and more on utility bills… and that’s being conservative.

Poor Installation

Nothing works like it should if it is installed improperly. Or worse, if the wrong model is installed. Imagine if your mechanic installed tires meant for a small smart car on your full-size SUV? Good luck engaging that four-wheel drive!

The same goes for a home comfort system. Some contractors today will use whatever system they happen to have in stock and make it fit, rather than properly measure a home and obtain the proper sized system for your home.

For example, if a contractor installs a system that is over-sized, it will continuously short cycle and kick on and off rapidly. That will cause it to use more energy to start up again and again, causing higher electric bills.

And of course, the wrong-sized system or a system that is improperly installed will break down sooner.