Air conditioning is essential in the desert, where temperatures routinely top 100 degrees during the summer. While it’s easy to take your cooling system for granted, giving your AC a little TLC will ensure it keeps you cool on the hottest days.
“Be kind to your AC and it will serve you well for years,” said Edith Garcia, Senior Program Manager for UniSource Energy Services’ Residential Energy Efficiency Program. “To get the best performance out of your AC unit, it’s important to change the filter monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer. If you have a pet or tend to get a lot of dust in your home, you may need to change it more frequently.”
Garcia said dirty filters clogged with dust, pet hair and dander make your unit work harder, so it uses more energy and costs you more to run. She suggests buying a few filters to have extra on hand and then changing the filter every month when you get your UniSource bill.
If you need an incentive, consider that cooling and heating represent nearly half of your household energy expenses. Replacing a clogged filter with a clean one can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Tuning up your unit annually in early spring makes sure your AC unit is ready for summer. Tune-ups optimize performance and extend the life of your unit. The U.S. Department of Energy reports AC units can last 15-20 years, but that period is often shorter in warm weather states like Arizona the due to heavy use during long, hot summers.
“Tune-ups can help identify potential common issues, such as dirty coils, corroded wires or terminals or refrigerant leaks,” said Garcia. “If you notice sounds, constant cycling of your AC or changes in its performance, call a professional to have it inspected. Catching issues early helps avoid an AC failure or major repair expenses.”
UniSource offers rebates of up to $155 on tune-ups through our Efficient Home Program when you use one of our approved contractors. If your AC unit operates but is nearing the end of its useful life, UniSource also offers rebates of up to $900 for replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR® AC system.
“These high efficiency units certified by ENERGY STAR are made better, last longer and perform more efficiently over many years,” Garcia noted.
Installing a smart thermostat also can benefit your AC unit. Some thermostats have sophisticated sensors and features that will alert you if your AC shuts down abruptly or experiences a service disruption. Some will even provide troubleshooting tips.
Best of all, smart thermostats can reduce cooling costs by 15 percent by adjusting automatically to your preferences and absences.
“There’s nothing worse than having your AC fail on the hottest day of the year,” Garcia said. “With regular maintenance, your unit should provide cooling relief when you need it the most.”