If you’re looking for ways to lower your electric bills this year, you might not have to do very much. That’s because a new analysis by the US Department of Energy suggests that consumers will pay modestly less for electricity in Boston this summer. Long-term weather forecasts suggest that this summer will be much milder than 2012, resulting in a drop in demand for electricity of about 2.5%.
Even with this rosy prediction, it’s never a bad time to look for ways to conserve energy, reduce consumption and keep your air conditioner in great shape. If your home has an older air conditioner, installing high-efficiency air conditioners can help reduce your electric bill for years to come, as can performing regular maintenance on a high-efficiency unit you may already have installed.
Simple things like clogged filters and dirty condenser coils can reduce the efficiency of a unit by as much as 10% per season. Deferring maintenance on an air conditioner may actually cost you more money (in the form of higher operational costs and increased need for service calls) than the annual maintenance does! In many cases, simple tasks like changing the air filter monthly and cleaning the condenser coils can be done without calling a service professional in.
You may want to seek help if your air conditioner runs but doesn’t cool the air in your home, or if the unit leaks fluid of any kind. Likewise, if your evaporator unit frosts when you turn it on, you’ll want to call in a licensed air conditioning repair professional for assistance. Keep in mind that a small amount of frosting on your air conditioning unit is normal. Icing or heavy frosting is not!
Here’s something that won’t save any money on your electric bill, but it may save you the expense of a service call, or the trouble of cleaning up a big mess! Keeping your condensate drain clear is well worth the (minimal) effort this task takes.
Condensed water drains from the indoor evaporator unit to a floor drain. sump well or to the exterior of the home. If this drain becomes clogged, the condensed water can flood the area around the evaporator and potentially cause water damage and a nasty mess inside the home.
The primary cause of clogging in a condensate drain is organic material (algae) that grows inside the drain. This is a natural process, and clearing the condensate drain is all that’s required to address the problem. You can clear the drain using a wet-dry vacuum and a special attachment that sits between the wet-dry vacuum and the condensate drain. With the attachment in place, turn on the wet-dry vac and let it run for a few minutes. When you’re finished, your drain line should be empty and clog-free, while your wet-dry vacuum should be full of algae water that can be discarded.
To maintain your condensate drain and potentially avoid clogs altogether, you can add an enzymatic drain cleaning product like Bio-Clean to the drain pipe. (Don’t add a harsh chemical drain cleaner that contains lye or similar acids!) The enzymes in Bio-Clean will attack the organic material in the drain and keep it free from growth and organic build-up.
If you would like assistance with air conditioner maintenance or information about high-efficiency air conditioning, including financing options, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can provide both scheduled and emergency service for air conditioning throughout Boston.
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