Ask anyone what keeps making your AC bills rise and you will likely get the same answer – something along the lines of “your HVAC system is not working as efficiently as it should be.” While this is certainly the quickest and most common answer, it doesn’t actually answer your true question “what is causing your AC system to run so inefficiently that it is causing your bills to keep rising?” The answer to that question isn’t quite as simple. There are many different things that could be going on within your HVAC unit to cause it to run inefficiently. If you suspect your AC system isn’t running as efficiently as it should be, it is extremely important that you hire an experienced technician to inspect and diagnose any problems.
How do I know if my HVAC unit is running inefficiently?
Besides taking into consideration the rising costs of your AC bills, there are other signs which may be present that can alert you to an issue with the efficiency of your air conditioning unit. These signs include:
- Warm air blowing out of the vents
- Reduced airflow
- Strange noises – particularly when starting your AC
- Your AC is having difficulty keeping up with the job of properly cooling your home
- Poor indoor air quality
These are just a few of the most common signs that something is going on deeper within your HVAC unit to cause your AC to run inefficiently. Some simple maintenance may be able to be done on your own, but if there is a problem with your unit that goes beyond routine maintenance it is probably time to call a professional.
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What is causing my HVAC unit to run inefficiently?
Once you have determined one or multiple signs of AC inefficiency are present, you are likely going to wonder what is causing it. There are a few different things that could be causing your air conditioner to run inefficiently and raise your energy bills, but a few of the most common issues include:
- A Refrigerant Leak – Too many people improperly assume that their AC’s refrigerant needs to be regularly refilled or recharged to keep it running efficiently. However, AC refrigerant is not intended to be refilled or recharged. If you are having to replace your AC’s refrigerant, this means only one thing – there must be a leak somewhere causing you to lose your refrigerant. And any leak in your HVAC unit will affect the overall performance of the cooling system. You will most likely be able to detect a refrigerant leak through the existence of ice on your system’s coils or reduced cooling power.
- Overheating of Your HVAC Unit – If you are having a problem with a part of your HVAC unit overheating, your system’s fan motor is probably to blame. In this scenario, you will likely need to have the unit’s fan motor replaced. If you do not replace the fan motor, the heat it is putting off will likely seep through into the indoor air and thus produce even more heat for your unit to have to remove and cool, which will significantly decrease the overall efficiency of the HVAC system.
- Damages to Your System’s Ductwork – There are a few different manners in which a damage to your HVAC unit’s ductwork can impact its overall efficiency. Which problem damaged ductwork will cause for you depends on what the damage is and where the damage is located. It is possible for damaged ductwork to cause your system to pull in hot air, which means your system has to work harder to cool the air that is put back out into your home, but it is also possible for damaged ductwork to cause your unit to blow cool air out into unoccupied spaces that don’t need it such as your attic or basement.
- Problems With Insulation – It is possible your home never had proper insulation installed to begin with, but even if it did, insulation can also deteriorate as time goes on. Proper insulation helps our units keep warmer air indoors throughout Florida’s very short winters, but more importantly, it helps keep the warm air out of our homes during our long, scorching summers. If your home has poor insulation, it requires your HVAC unit to work harder in order to properly maintain a comfortable temperature within your home.
- Outer Obstructions to Your HVAC Unit – It is important to keep your outdoor HVAC unit clean, clear, and free of clutter. As your AC system pulls the warm air out of your home, it needs to expel this warm air outdoors. But obstructions such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, mulch, and other debris can quickly clog your system and cause the warm air to become stuck inside the system, which can cause additional damage to your unit.
The harder your HVAC unit has to work to continue to do its job of maintaining a comfortable temperature within your home, the more inefficiently the system is going to run and the more expensive your cooling bills will become. As with many things, preventative care and routine maintenance is the best thing you can do to protect your air conditioning system from common issues that can lead to it running inefficiently.
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As an air conditioning technician, I am responsible for the maintenance and repair of HVAC systems. I work with various tools and equipment to troubleshoot and repair issues with AC units. My work can sometimes be challenging, but it is gratifying to help keep people comfortable in their homes and businesses!