HVAC systems help to keep things running smoothly in the home: They keep everyone in the home feeling comfortable, reduce the amount of humidity in the air, help to heat or cool the home and help to promote healthy airflow. It’s no wonder they require a great deal of electricity. The size, type and age of an air conditioner determines how many watts per hour it uses. Small air conditioners can use as little as 500 watts while larger air conditioners can use 3500 watts. Given that air conditioners can use so much electricity, it’s wise to make sure they’re in tip-top condition so that they run efficiently and avoid wasting electricity.
The following issues cause air conditioners to run longer and harder and thereby use more wattage.
1. Lack of Maintenance
You should schedule maintenance appointments twice a year. You may need more if you have experienced harsh weather. There are a number of things that can go wrong if you don’t. This can result in repairs down the road or total system replacement. In addition, not making regular maintenance appointments means you could have something wrong with your system that will both make your system run longer and harder than it should. This will cause your electricity usage to rise. Maintenance ensures your system is running at optimal levels and ensures you’re using the least amount of electricity according to your air conditioner’s size, type and age. It also ensures that your home remains comfortable for everyone.
2. Leaking or “Low” Refrigerant
Refrigerant helps to create cool air in your home when your air conditioner is on. If you have leaking refrigerant, your system will run for a longer than necessary duration of time in its attempt to cool down your home. You may need to have your refrigerant levels checked. Different types of air conditioners require different amounts of refrigerant.
These are some signs you may be experiencing a leak:
- Warm or less than cool air is coming from your vents
- You may notice that there’s ice around your compressor
- You can hear a bubbling or hissing noise
- Your energy bills have risen
It’s not enough to assume that you are in need of refrigerant or might be experiencing a leak. You should still arrange to have your HVAC system checked because you could be experiencing other issues.
3. Thermostat Issues
There are a number of things that can go wrong with a thermostat. Some of these issues come from having an older thermostat. Older thermostats that contain mercury need to be level to work properly. A number of things can cause this to become unlevel, such as the house settling. Another issue with thermostats is when any item causes a thermostat to heat up. This can be caused by appliances or if sunlight is directly on the thermostat. If anything causes the thermostat to heat up, it will cause the air conditioner to come on prematurely. At times, thermostats need a good cleaning. A thermostat can’t properly gauge the air’s temperature if the thermostat is dirty.
4. Clogged Condensate Line
When the evaporator converts refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, water collects. However, your condensate line can get clogged by algae and general muck. When this happens, your air conditioner won’t cool your home down as much as it could. This causes the air conditioner to stay on longer than it needs to in an effort to cool down your home. Excessive water can also cause parts to rust, which leads to HVAC system inefficiency and needed repairs later on. You might see water collecting in your drain pan, see that your air conditioner suddenly shuts off, notice that there is a musty or mildewy smell or notice that there is standing water, notice that your line is slowly dripping or there is water damage around your drain pan. You can check your drain pan to see if it’s full, but you should regularly schedule maintenance appointments to avoid this and other issues. You will need your drain line cleared as quickly as possible as you risk water damage and other issues.
5. Clogged Filter
It can seem surprising that such a minor thing can cause a problem. Dirty filters are common, and this is one of the most common reasons for HVAC system failure. Clogged or dirty air filters cause a disturbance in the airflow. Warm air can’t be taken in by your air conditioner (in order to condition it), which causes system failure. Contrary to popular belief about HVAC systems, warm air and moisture is being removed from your home while your system exchanges this with cooler conditioned air through the use of refrigerant and your air conditioner’s components. If your HVAC system can’t take in this warm air because of a dirty filter, it causes problems for your entire system. It won’t run as efficiently as it could, which means your system will use more power in an effort to cool your home down. You might notice that there isn’t as much cool air blowing out from your vents as usual. Clogged air filters can also cause ice to form on your coils. In addition to regularly having your HVAC system checked, your air filters need to be changed regularly. It’s wise to check them frequently. Check with your system’s requirements. During warmer months, you may need to change your filters more frequently.
6. Ineffective Air Conditioner Components
Anything that isn’t working properly within your air conditioner can cause it to use more power as it tries to compensate for a lack of cooling. Your HVAC system is a complex system. You have your condenser, which circulates refrigerant to cool air and also helps to release warm air outside. You may have ducts that distribute cool air throughout your home. Your air handler has different components. Your thermostat needs to be functioning and could have a host of problems, which can cause your HVAC system to use more power than it should. Any part of your system can affect how you heat and cool your home, which causes an influx of energy costs.
A good and easy way to prevent your energy costs from soaring and avoiding repairs or total system replacement down the road is to schedule regular maintenance appointments. This will ensure your system is running in top condition. You will also be able to foresee potential problems that can be efficiently repaired before they become major problems.
Effective AC Maintenance and Repair
To make sure you are using the least amount of wattage for your air conditioner, call Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. We’re a BBB-accredited business with an A+ rating that serves the Sacramento area. We offer everything from heating and cooling repair, installation and maintenance to plumbing service. Give us a call today with any HVAC or plumbing needs you have.