If you have been in the market for a new AC system in the last few decades, you know that energy efficiency is an important selling point for homeowners in San Diego and surrounding communities. After the unit is installed and operating, how do you know that it is actually running efficiently? Fortunately, there are some simple tricks that homeowners can use to determine if the unit is operating efficiently and as designed.
What Is Energy Efficiency?
Before we share our favorite tricks for testing the efficiency of your air conditioning system, we want to explain exactly what the term means in modern HVAC systems. Energy efficiency is easier to explain by using a comparison. Let’s say that you have two models of AC units – one that is 20 years old and one that is brand new. If you operate both units under similar conditions to reach a specific indoor temperature, the newer unit will use less energy compared to the older unit. Essentially, newer, more energy-efficient air conditioners can do the same amount of cooling as older models, yet with less energy required for the job.
Why Is an Energy-Efficient AC Unit Important?
Energy-efficient AC units are important to San Diego homeowners for many reasons, but the reduction of energy use is at the top of the list. Homeowners know that they can save money each month on utility bills and reduce their impact on the environment with a more energy-efficient model.
1. Test the Air Temperature
One of the easiest ways to test the energy efficiency of your AC system is to check the air temperature inside your home. You will need a handheld thermometer for this trick, such as a device that measures indoor humidity and temperature. Pick a day when it is at least 80 degrees outside. The warmer the day, the better. Turn your AC on, and wait at least 15 minutes. Find a supply vent in your home that is closest to the outdoor AC unit. Supply vents are the ones that blow air into the room. Put the thermometer in front of the vent and wait for the reading to stabilize. This may take around five minutes. Next, locate the return vent in your home. If you have several, choose the one that is closest to the outdoor unit. Take a reading with the thermometer, leaving it in place for at least five minutes. You want to compare the two readings – the one from the supply vent and the one from the return vent. When your AC system is running efficiently, the air from the supply vent should be about 15 degrees colder than the air going into the return vent.
2. Check Temperature Consistency
An AC unit that is running efficiently will cool the air throughout your home, and you should not have any hot or cold spots. Using the same thermometer, take readings in each room or area of your home. Leave the thermometer in each room for about five to 15 minutes. The readings should be within a few degrees of each other. If they are, your AC is running efficiently. If there is a larger difference between the readings, it’s time to have your AC system checked by the experts at Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air.
3. Review Your Energy Bills
One of the most obvious signs that your AC system is not running efficiently is your monthly utility bills. We recommend that you set up a spreadsheet or use a notebook to track the amount that you spend each month in total. With the understanding that other appliances and electronics in your home can affect the total bill each month, this is a good way to tell where you might be using more electricity than expected. It may help to note when your family is especially active with devices and appliances, as well as when you have guests. Your utility bill should also provide a comparison to this month and the same month last summer. You should look at least three months that you were using your air conditioning to get some good, solid insights.
4. Monitor Repair Costs
A secondary sign that an air conditioning system is not operating as efficiently as it should is frequent repairs. These tend to be smaller repairs that are necessary because of wear and tear on the individual components. Make sure to log any repairs that you do yourself, even if it’s only to replace or tighten a bolt. Wear and tear on the AC unit keeps it off balance and burdens other components, and the entire system has to work harder and operate at a level that is less efficient.
5. Check the Age of the Equipment
If your AC system is 10 to 15 years old, chances are that it is running less efficiently than newer models. In recent decades, HVAC manufacturers have made great advances in cooling technologies that result in incredibly energy-efficient options. AC systems tend to last about 15 to 25 years, so your system may be near the end of its lifetime, and now is the time to invest in a new system before costly repairs are needed. Call Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air to speak with someone from our staff who can schedule an appointment with one of our technicians to learn about the best models for your home.
6. Have an Expert Check the System
The easiest way to determine if your AC system is running efficiently is to have it evaluated by an expert technician from Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air. We know all the obvious and less-than-obvious signs of an inefficient system. The appointment takes about an hour, and we can provide valuable information about what needs to be done to maximize the efficiency of your cooling system for years to come. The technician can also perform routine maintenance on the system to keep it running all summer. We recommend maintenance services in the spring and autumn for best results.
When Your AC Is Not Running Efficiently
Now that you know whether or not your AC unit is running efficiently, you may be wondering about the next step. We recommend that you use the same tricks every year to see if you notice any variation in performance. If your air conditioning tests show that your current unit is not running efficiently, we can help you decide on a new, affordable model that fits your family’s needs and budget.
AC Installation, Repair, and Maintenance Experts
For more than 10 years, Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air has helped homeowners in San Diego and surrounding areas with all of their heating, cooling, and plumbing needs. If you have questions about your current AC system or would like to learn more about a new air conditioning system for your home, give us a call. We can provide information over the phone and schedule an appointment with one of our professional technicians for an in-home evaluation and estimate.