Home & Garden

To lower air conditioning costs, start with maintenance

(StatePoint) — To make sure your home stays cool while your energy bills stay low this summer, check that your air conditioning system is operating properly.

If you have a central air conditioning system, be sure to get it checked by a professional.

Consumers may be unaware that the HVAC/R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry does not require technicians to take mandatory competency tests. However, many technicians go through voluntary testing to obtain certification from North American Technician Excellence, the nation’s largest independent, third-party, non-profit certification body for HVAC/R technicians.

To find a qualified local contractor who employs certified technicians, look for the NATE logo on the company’s site or promotional materials, or go to www.HVACRAdvice.com.

Once a technician has confirmed that your equipment is installed and operating properly, there are several things you can do to keep energy bills to a minimum:

• Raise the thermostat about five degrees. Each degree saves a percentage off your cooling energy bill.

• Don’t obstruct airflow around air conditioner units. Keep them clear of plants and debris.

• Clean the air filters. Check them every couple of weeks and change them at least twice in the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.

• Review last year’s energy bills and keep an eye on cooling costs throughout the season to monitor for major increases or inconsistencies.

As homeowners continue to adopt eco-friendly, high-efficiency products and appliances, it’s important to realize that even the greenest equipment can waste money and energy if it’s not installed, serviced and maintained properly.