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Identifying Pesky AC Efficiency Issues

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Once summer arrives, your home's air conditioner will quickly become your best friend. Living through the summer in a hot or humid climate without air conditioning can often be a miserable experience, but comfort isn't free. While modern air conditioners are highly efficient, running a central air conditioning system for many months can add up to much higher utility bills. 

Of course, the best way to keep your bills in check is to do everything you can to maintain your system's efficiency. If you notice the cost to run your air conditioner noticeably increasing, that's usually a sign of trouble right around the corner. These three steps will help you understand what may be happening and decide if your system needs a visit from your local HVAC technician.

Step 1: Perform Some Basic Investigation

Many efficiency problems result from incorrect usage or poor maintenance. Start by checking the condition of your home's air filter. If the filter looks dirty (or it has been many months since your last replacement), don't think; replace it. Poor airflow can damage your air conditioning system's components and drastically impact cooling efficiency.

You should also take a look at your thermostat. A typical residential cooling system can efficiently provide about twenty degrees of temperature drop. If you're setting your system much colder, your efficiency problems may result from overcooling. Turning your thermostat a little warmer may bring your air conditioning bills down more than expected.

Step 2: Look for Other Symptoms

Modern central air conditioning systems do a good job of staying out of sight. A system in good working order should keep your home cool without making much noise or doing anything to make its presence known. While the unobtrusive nature of modern AC systems is certainly a benefit, it can make spotting trouble a little harder.

If your AC bills start climbing, you should pay close attention to your system's behavior to look for other problems. Is your system running in short bursts? This condition is known as short cycling and can often be an early indication of a refrigerant leak. Other issues include excessively humid air from your vents or overly long run times. Any of these symptoms may warrant a visit from an AC specialist.

Step 3: Contact an Expert

Even if your system seems to be running well and cooling your home, you shouldn't put up with a system costing more to run than it should. If you're noticing increasing utility costs when you run your air conditioner, that's a sure sign that something is wrong, even absent other symptoms. Ignoring this early warning sign can potentially result in a more costly fix in the future.

An HVAC technician can thoroughly inspect your system, looking for any problems that may result in reduced cooling efficiency. This inspection will allow you to fix the issue before it progresses, restoring the efficiency of your system and preventing future failures.

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