Articles Written By: Mark Leofe

How to Know If You Have a Faulty Air Conditioner

If you’ve ever had an air conditioning system break, you know how horrible and uncomfortable it can be. Taking a shower is useless and sleeping comfortably is almost impossible.

You want to head off this trouble before it happens. Each home varies depending on the actual insulation values, duct work conditions, location of the home with respect to sun exposure, individual user operations, current system design, age, and efficiency of the equipment. Taking all of that into consideration, here are some ways you can determine if your air conditioner may be on its way out.

Symptoms

  • Your digital thermostat’s display is blank or has lost power
  • You hear unusual noises coming from your equipment
  • Water is leaking from your indoor unit (Attic units can leak and cause water stains on the ceiling)

Are you still having trouble? There are some other things you can do to quickly determine if your air conditioning unit isn’t working properly.

Check the Temperature

Does it feel hot in your house? Make sure your thermostat is set to Air Conditioning Mode. If it’s two or more degrees warmer in your home than your thermostat setting, the air conditioner should be working. If it’s not, you may have a problem. Sometimes air conditioners can have trouble keeping up if it’s hotter than 93 degrees outside, but most of the time it should be able to maintain your home within a couple of degrees of your setting.

Feel the Air

If you still think something may be wrong with your system, check the air coming out of the supply vents. If the outdoor unit is running and the thermostat is in Air Conditioning Mode, you should feel cold air. If there is considerably less air than normal coming out of the vents, or if the air is warm, there may be an issue. If the outdoor unit is running and there is no air coming out of the vents, this is also a problem.

If this happens, your evaporator coils may be iced over. Be sure to cut off the unit so that it can thaw before a technician arrives.

Change Your Filters

Before you decide to call a technician, check your air filters. Dirty air filters can cause all sorts of problems. Replacing a dirty air filter may fix the issue. Change your filters regularly and keep your system well maintained to extend its life.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for For All Seasons!

Here are a couple of home energy efficiency tips for your home not just for winter or summer but for all year-round! This should help you save a lot from your utility bills. These tips will not also help you save money but you are actually saving energy and doing your part for the environment!

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Winter

  • Set your thermostat to 68°F during the day and 60°F at night. This should allow you to save at least 3% on your heating costs during winter.
  • Install a window kit to the inside of your windows so that no cold air will come in and no warm air will go out.
  • Change the filters of your heating system at a regular basis. A well-maintained heating system can save money and increase the comfort level in your home.
  • Make sure your furnace is airtight because you may be losing more heat than you are generating.
  • Check all the ductwork in your home for any air leakage if you want to save up to 10% on your heating costs. If you found any leakage be sure to use a silver metal duct tape to seal it – or better yet, call a professional to do it.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Summer

  • Check the air filter of your AC unit on a regular basis. A clean air filter will improve the unit’s efficiency and save both energy and money.
  • Your thermostat should be set to a comfortable level (~76°F.)  76°F should be comfortable enough for you and your family as it is the most energy-efficient indoor temperature.
  • Get a professional to look at your AC unit just to make sure that it works properly and there are no issues with it.
  • Don’t forget to ensure your windows and the doors are closed every time you turn on your AC.
  • Make sure that your TV, lamps or other appliances are not close to your AC thermostat as it may cause for your air conditioner to cool the room more than is needed.
  • Be sure that there are no object or furniture blocking the ducts and fans of your cooling system so the cool air can circulate freely and properly.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips All Year-Round

  • Did you know that a water heater has the third highest energy expense in most homes? If you have a water heater at home be sure to set its water temperature to 130°F instead of 140°F to save a couple of dollars each month.
  • Use a microwave to cook meals instead of an oven to save energy. This not only saves energy from the use of the oven itself but in cooling the house after baking.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water and you will save at least $50 per year.
  • Another way to save energy in the laundry room is to put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wet clothes. The towel will absorb dampness and reduce drying time, saving energy and money.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent and/or LED bulbs. Besides saving energy, you will also save money in the long run, since the life spans of these bulbs is substantially longer.
  • If you have a crawl space, inspect it regularly to ensure that the insulation inside is dry. When insulation gets wet, it isn’t as effective. Be sure to find the source of the moisture and replace any damaged insulation.
  • Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator at least every three months. The dirt buildup makes the refrigerator work harder to keep the contents cool and therefore uses more energy.

Preparing an Outdoor AC Unit

An outside air conditioning unit, often referred to as an HVAC unit, is a lifesaver during hot summer months. During the winter, you may want to winterize the unit to protect it against cold weather, snow and ice. Winterizing the unit also protects it against rust damage. A few protective measures can keep the air conditioning unit in your real estate investment in top working condition.

Find the air conditioning circuit near your unit. Usually, it has a plastic or metal lid that covers the electrical circuit. Open the lid and flip the switch to turn the unit off. This prevents the unit from turning on during an unusually warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit that could potentially freeze.

Wash the air conditioning unit with a hose to remove bird droppings, dead bugs, dirt and dust. Remove leaves, small branches and grass clippings from the unit. Allow the unit to dry completely.

Install foam pipe covers around exterior exposed pipes. Cut the foam to fit the length and diameter of the pipe. The foam covers insulate the pipes and protect them against freezing temperatures. Wrap duct tape around the foam covers to hold them in place.

Cover the HVAC unit with a plastic or vinyl cover. Choose a cover that is waterproof. Some manufacturers make covers that are specifically designed for air conditioners, but you can use any plastic or vinyl covering that fits over the unit.

Wrap vinyl ropes or bungee cords around the air conditioning cover to keep it secure. Make sure the cover is wrapped tightly so it doesn’t blow away in strong winds.

Check your air conditioner once a week to make sure the cover is secure. Brush water, snow and ice off the unit. Remove twigs, pinecones and leaves from the cover.

How to Reduce your Energy Consumption this Winter

A/C, Energy Saving, Heating, Sugar Land

While setting the thermostat to the right temperatures can improve the comfort of one’s home, it is not the only way to do so. Other ways for a homeowner to minimize energy usage and costs, while improving the overall environment inside of his or her home include:

  • Wear warmer clothing and consider setting the temperature to lower than 72 degrees to see more savings on energy bills.
  • Inspect and regularly replace filters.
  • Get an inspection and furnace tune up before the arrival of winter to get the furnace ready for the season.
  • Inspect the home for drafts and leaks. Seal up any cracks, holes or gaps in the home’s entryways, walls, and foundation to prevent thermal energy from escaping.
  • Use weather stripping on doors and windows that are used frequently.
  • Caulk or seal the windows and any unused exterior doors.
  • Set the water tank temperature to 120 degrees to reduce thermal energy costs.
  • Open the curtains or blinds to let the sunlight in to help heat the home.
  • Rearrange furniture so that no one has to sit where there may be drafts coming in.
  • Check all pipes and faucets for leaks. Insulate the pipes by covering them with a blanket.

Prior to the cold weather setting in, homeowners should make every effort to winterize their home. Stop playing with the thermostat and get more enjoyment out of your home by making it as energy efficient as possible.

The Right Temperature for your Home This Winter

For many homeowners, wintertime is the time of year when they are tempted the most to turn their thermostats up to the highest setting possible in order to keep all of those cold drafts at bay. While this may seem like a good idea, it is not. Constantly setting the thermostat to a high temperature during the wintertime will cause a big spike in energy bills. In order to save money and keep your HVAC system from working too hard, here are some ways you can program your thermostat in order to save energy and money during those cold winter months.

Day Time Temperature Setting

Setting the thermostat too high when it is cold outside is the equivalent of tossing money out of the window. The warmer your home is the faster thermal energy will be lost to the outside. The lower the temperature is inside of the home, the slower the rate of thermal energy loss. To achieve optimal comfort, it is recommended for homeowners to set their thermostats between 68 to 72 degrees while there are people inside of the home. 68 to 72 degrees is a temperature range that is not too warm or cool, and is sufficient enough to warm up the home just enough so that everyone is comfortable regardless of the type of clothing they have on.

Night Time and Away Temperature

When the house is empty for an extended amount of time and at night, it is a good idea to lower the temperature to 58 to 62 degrees. When everyone is sleep and less active, there is no need for the heating and cooling system to waste energy when it is not needed as much. That temperature setting is also enough to keep the pipes in the home from freezing when the temperatures outside drop and no one is home.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Older furnaces and heat pumps take longer to heat up the inside of a home. This can cause the home to feel colder than it really is since the appliance is taking more time to heat things up. In order to improve how fast the furnace responds and to maintain the warm atmosphere inside of the home, it is a good idea to replace all older appliances including the furnace with energy saving appliances.

Digital Thermostats

Invest in a digital thermostat to make setting and maintaining temperatures a breeze. Digital thermostats make it possible for homeowners to set their thermostats in advance and not have to worry about setting them again until the season changes. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and install the digital thermostat in an area that is convenient for you to reach and away from all drafts, sunlight, furniture, doorways, and windows.

When setting a digital thermostat be mindful of the times that everyone is awake and sleep. Consider programming the device so that it lowers and raises the temperatures shortly before everyone gets up, goes to sleep, or leaves the house. If the home is going to be empty for three hours or more, do not forget to set thermostat to a lower temperature to save energy and money while you are away.