Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a continental climate, which is characterized by significant variation in temperature throughout the year, with no dry season. Because this climate type means warm summers and cold winters, most homes in our area have both a furnace and some kind of cooling system (e.g., central air, window AC units, and attic fan). Unfortunately for us, that means we’re paying to either warm or cool our homes almost constantly throughout the year. If your air conditioner is inefficient, it has an impact on your comfort and your energy usage.
If you have central air that’s operating efficiently, you and your family will be comfortable inside while keeping your electric bill as low as possible. Now that the mercury is rising as we move into the hottest months of the year in Western Pennsylvania, it’s a good time to consider how well your AC is handling the heat. Aside from general comfort and energy expenses, the temperature around us has an impact on mood and memory, productivity, and how well and how much we sleep!
So, let’s make sure that you’re AC is in tip-top shape for the health of your family – and your wallet – by looking at the signs that your air conditioning is operating inefficiently. Here are the nine symptoms of an inefficient AC.
Your System Runs Constantly
Of course, the warmer it gets, the more often your system will have to kick on to adjust your indoor temperature. But even when we’re at our warmest temps, your air conditioner should cycle on for about 15 minutes, two or three times every hour. If your AC is running outside of that normal range, odds are your system isn’t performing as efficiently as it should.
You’re Not Cool Enough
You probably aren’t counting the number of times your air conditioning comes on or timing its cycles, so you may not notice if your AC is running too much, as described above. What will be more apparent to you is that it’s just not keeping you cool enough.
If your system is pushing cool air into your home, but it doesn’t seem cool enough, a low level of refrigerant in your system may be the culprit. Our technicians can assess whether lack of coolant is to blame and restore your system to the appropriate level.
The Temperature Isn’t Consistent Throughout Your House
With the right system for the size and layout of your home, your air conditioner will cool your home evenly, all the time. If you notice that the temperature isn’t consistent when you move around the house – with some areas noticeably warmer or cooler than others, it’s a sign of inefficiency. Inconsistent cooling occurs when your system doesn’t have the proper capacity for your living space. It can also be an indicator that your AC system is reaching the end of its lifespan.
Your Air Conditioner Is Over 10 Years Old
Speaking of lifespans, the newest models of air conditioners boast lifespans of 15-20 years. However, the life expectancy of older units tends to be closer to 10-12 years. Just like everything else, your AC unit and its components wear down over time. This means it has to work a little harder than it used to, which then means it requires more energy to keep you cool.
If your AC has reached double digits, it may be time to replace it with a new, high-efficiency model. A new system will not only keep you consistently comfortable but will also lower your energy bills.
Your Electricity Bill Is Unusually High
Obviously, if any of the above signs of an inefficient conditioner apply to you, there will be an impact on your energy bill. When the unit isn’t keeping you cool enough, it will run more often and for longer periods to comfortable. It’s double trouble because you’re not reaping the comfort and health benefits of cooling your house, and you’re paying more for a nonoptimal indoor climate.
If your electricity bills are soaring this summer, call us to have one of our certified HVAC technicians check for leaks – which can cause a low level of refrigerant – or components in need of replacement or repair.
You’re Frequently Calling for Repairs
And while we’re on the subject of repairs, maybe you’ve experienced an unpleasant smell or weird noises coming from the unit and required professional assistance. The frequent need to call us for fixes is a clear sign your AC isn’t functioning as efficiently as possible. Repeatedly patching up problems with your system may indicate that it’s time to invest in a new air conditioning unit. If you’ve had to have multiple repairs recently, give us a call and our technicians can help you make an informed decision about whether to repair or replace your AC.
Clogged or Dirty Filters
Routinely replacing your HVAC filters helps to ensure your system is running efficiently, and it also helps to prevent breakdowns. Your filters remove dust and other matter from the airflow into your unit, preventing debris from building up in the system. Over time, the filters get “full” of the matter they’re capturing as the air moves through your system. Checking your filters – and replacing them if they’re clogged – is one of the first things you can do to improve performance.
Dirty air filters left in place too long can even cause your air conditioner to break down completely. When the filters aren’t doing their job, the unit’s coils eventually become coated with debris. When this occurs, the repair can be costly. Be sure to change your filters at least every three months to keep running efficiently and avoid expensive repairs.
If your air conditioner is leaking or there’s water build-up around the unit, your AC isn’t operating efficiently. Most often, leaks occur when the condensation line is blocked, though leaks can occur for other reasons, as well. Left unaddressed, mold, bacteria, and other biological irritants can build up in the system, leading to the potential for respiratory health problems in your family.
If you spot a leak or other drainage problem around your AC unit, call a qualified HVAC professional right away. Neglecting a leak can lead to damage to both your health and your home.
If you feel like the temperature range in your home doesn’t match how you’ve set the thermostat, it could be a problem with the sensor. When the sensor isn’t working properly, it could be “telling” your system to maintain a different temperature than what you’ve set it to.
Our certified technicians can quickly check your thermostat to see that it is maintaining the temperature based on its settings. They can easily replace thermostat components if a problem with the sensor is detected. They can tell you whether the thermostat is malfunctioning to the point where it should be replaced. If that were to be the case, you might opt to have us install a programmable or smart thermostat, which can help reduce your energy costs and more easily manage your indoor environment.
What Do I Do If My AC Is Inefficient?
Preventive care is the best way to avoid problems with your AC. Replace your filters at least every three months and schedule your AC system clean and check annually. If you keep up with your maintenance and still suspect your air conditioner isn’t running efficiently, give Arendosh Heating and Cooling a call. We can help you diagnose and solve the problem.
Involving a professional early on will keep your HVAC unit running efficiently, prolong its lifespan, and avoid expensive repair and replacement costs. Give us a call at the first sign of any trouble!