Living in Santa Rosa means you don’t have to worry too much about bundling up during the winter, but all that warm weather can be an inconvenience at times. This is never more true than when it comes time to pay your air conditioning bill after an unusually hot month. Many people are afraid to get HVAC systems for their Santa Rosa buildings because they’ve heard horror stories about astronomical utility bills, but what many don’t realise is that it is possible to lower your air conditioning costs considerably by following a few simple steps—even in hot climates like Santa Rosa’s. If you’re looking for a way to cool off while cutting costs, here are seven of the easiest and most effective:
Use ENERGY STAR Products
If efficiency is important to you, you’ll want to consider replacing some of your current air conditioning infrastructure with ENERGY STAR products. ENERGY STAR is a program that identifies highly efficient appliances and other consumer products, making it particularly useful for people trying to stay cool in hot climates without spending too much. Consider purchasing a portable air conditioner with ENERGY STAR certification to use instead of your HVAC unit during peak hours. Since these products can use as much as 40 percent less energy than other models, this can be the perfect way to cut down on your costs when demand for electricity is high.
Understand Peak Demand
A lot of people drive up their utility bills because they don’t understand the way in which they’re billed. Many areas (including Santa Rosa, whose incentives are managed by PG&E) bill customers for their electricity usage in two distinct ways: by looking at both your total consumption and the highest level of energy you consumed during a billing period—the second criterion is called Peak Demand. This means you could be looking at a huge bill even if your AC stayed off for most of the month, based on one really hot day or two where you kept it running at full blast. Sound unfair? You bet. Now that you know though, you’ll be able to avoid such common mistakes.
Check for Leaks Regularly
A lot of people don’t realize how much refrigerant leaks can impact the performance of your HVAC, but this is one of the most common causes of high air conditioning bills—in Santa Rosa or anywhere else. Many people assume that they can just continue adding refrigerant to a leaky system to “top it up”—but you wouldn’t rely on that strategy indefinitely if you were talking about leaking oil in your car, and it doesn’t make sense for air conditioners either. Leaking refrigerant can damage your condenser over time, leading to a much costlier repair than simply fixing the leak. Hiring a contractor to check your system every few months and fix refrigerant leaks saves you a lot more money in the long run than letting a leak get worse.
Don’t be Afraid to Call in the Pros
Many home- and business owners assume that they’ll save money by avoiding professional maintenance on their HVAC systems and repairing them unassisted. While that’s technically correct, it only holds water if you can care for every aspect of an HVAC system by yourself—in which case, you’re probably an HVAC tech and aren’t reading this article right now, since your unit it already perfectly optimized. For the rest of you, having professionals come in to check on your HVAC should be a yearly investment at the very least. Leaking coolant isn’t the only thing that can go wrong in an HVAC system, and while there are a variety of things you can accomplish by yourself with little more than water and bleach, some jobs are most cost-effective when done by skilled technicians. HVAC repair specialists can clean your ducts properly to prevent bacteria build up, fix, or change your service valve, clean your conditioning coils, and complete many other tasks beyond the scope of your average HVAC owner that will keep your system efficient and save you money on your monthly bills.
Take Care of the Little Things
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you’re treating your AC with respect. You don’t need to depend on a contractor for every aspect of your HVAC maintenance, and you shouldn’t neglect your system between yearly checkups. In fact, there are a few things you can do weekly or monthly to make sure your unit is well-treated, like watching the thermostat. Keeping it set just a few degrees higher than normal in the summer can take a lot of pressure off your system, and immediately reduce your utility bills in the process. You’ll also want to change your air filter once a month, to prevent bacteria from getting into your unit and causing a buildup.
Follow the steps listed above, and you should find that two important things happen: your immediate utility bills go down, and your HVAC lasts for a longer period, saving you from having to repair costly malfunctions. Use this information to your advantage this summer in Santa Rosa, and be the coolest person on your block. Contact us for more information.