Losing your cool over your AC?
By Joe Seelig | Highlands Today
A problem as simple as bugs in your AC’s contactor points or a faulty capacitor can cause an air conditioning system to stop working.
And if it happens at night, it leaves you with an uncomfortable night’s sleep and a service call.
Ceiling and portable fans or even battery-operated fans help, along with strategically placed ice packs, but ultimately it gets stifling.
Another temporary option is the O2-CoolÂ® Portable Battery Powered Cool Box Personal Air Conditioner, a desk-top machine that works on two D batteries, that holds up to four pounds of ice.
Learn more about this machine at http://www.preparedness.com/o2pobaopmupo.html.
But when you live in Florida, for most people keeping that air conditioning running is crucial.
"Everyone should have some type of service agreement," said Diane Harris, office manager at Bentz Air Conditioning Inc. "It helps cut electric costs and extends the life of the unit. It catches problems ahead of time."
Harris recommended that if a unit is more than 5 years old, maintenance should be done every six months. Some companies recommend maintenance at least once a year.
"For anybody who has a warranty, it helps keep the warranty," she said.
Many of these surprise service calls are preventable by having annual maintenance done on the unit.
"It’s like changing your oil out and fixing your car," said Matt Griffin, co-owner of Air and Electrical Services, in Sebring, emphasizing his company was advertising a reduction on its maintenance service fee. "But over the cost of (running the system) a year, you’re saving in lost inefficiency."
Prices for maintenance calls may vary depending on what needs to be done.
Regardless of what an air conditioning company charges for yearly maintenance, they’re checking for loose wires, worn parts, cleaning the outside coils, checking the inside coils and cleaning up parts exposed to moisture that could become a home for mold and mildew to build up.
"The air handler is a perfect place for mold and mildew to grow," Griffin said.
If it’s time to replace the system, some companies offer a rebate incentive.
Plus, there is a federal tax credit up to $1,500, available for people who itemize their taxes.
Robert Howell, who owns a townhouse on Lake Grassy, in Lake Placid, said Monday he qualified for the whole $1,500.
Howell had a new Trane heat pump air conditioning system installed into his townhouse by technicians with Mark Palmer Electric and Air Conditioning, in Sebring.
"We live in Fort Lauderdale," said Howell. "This is our getaway home."
He said he, his wife and daughter want to move there, but he’s waiting for his wife to retire. They’ve owned the two-bedroom two-bath home for seven years, he said.
The split-system air conditioning unit is located in the attic above the second floor.
Whoever installed the old unit failed to put in a drain in the overflow pan, he said. This resulted in the ceiling getting ruined over their staircase.
They decided to put in the new unit in hopes of saving money.
"If we don’t use this place and just have the refrigerator running, the electricity is $30," he said. "We stayed here 10 days in June and the bill was $130. So in 10 days it cost us $100. Imagine what it will be if we live here."
Duane Lewis was the lead technician on the installation, working with technician Chris Kuh.
"There’s some corrections we’re making here," said Lewis. "We’re fixing some problems that should have been addressed from the get-go."
He recommended one maintenance call for each year a system gets used. So for example if a unit is only used six months out of a year, then maintenance should be done every two years.
"We’re staying busy," said Kuh. "A lot of it is that the units are getting old and not keeping the places cool any more."
The Howells’ townhouse is 30 years old.
Progress Energy offers a rebate as well based upon the purchase of energy saving units with heat pumps.
"We try to encourage our customers to purchase the most energy efficient unit possible," said Tim Leljedal, a Progress Energy spokesman.
"Many of our customers report saving a significant amount of money on their energy bill where they wish they had done it sooner. We are emphasizing that they must go through our free home energy check first (and received a recommendation for a new heat pump)."
For more information on these rebates, go to: http://www.progress-energy.com/shared/stw2/sp_ehi_heat_pump.asp .
For more tips on keeping your home cool go to Super Eco at: http://www.supereco.com/news/2009/06/26/15-cool-tips-for-a-cool-house-this-summer/ .