Ask the energy advisor

Cool Runnings

Posted on Apr 28 2019 in LaGrange County REMC
Energy Advisor

When discussing “cool” runnings, I’m not referring to the 1993 movie with John Candy (as great as it is). 

I want to talk about the “cool” runnings of air conditioners and heat pumps. 

There are two things I want you to keep in mind: the first is efficiency and the second is maintenance.

When most people are looking to purchase an air conditioner or heat pump, they are more concerned about the cost of the system rather than the cost of its operation. In many cases, a higher-efficiency unit will cost more out-of-pocket but will save more money over the life and operation of the system.

Systems are rated by SEERs — or seasonal energy efficiency ratios. The higher the SEER, the less electricity it uses to condition your home. Many times, the higher SEER units qualify for hundreds of dollars in incentives. Always check with us, your co-op, for rebates.

Ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you: preventative maintenance is key to keeping a car in good running condition. The same holds true for your air conditioning or heat pump. 

Two things will happen to the outdoor unit — the coils will get dirty and mechanical parts will fail. 

You can clean the coils, as long as you use caution. You need to make sure the electricity is turned off before you begin, and you absolutely should not use a high-pressure water. Clean coils allow for efficient transfer of the heat from the inside to the outside. Dirty coils make the system work harder. 

The motors on the unit should run smoothly. If the outside unit is operating, place your hand over the top and feel the temperature of the air. If it is warmer than the surrounding air, you are good. If you hear any screeching, grinding or smell something unusual, like burnt toast, then you may need to call a professional to inspect the unit.

Call me before spending money you could have saved.