When was the last time you had your home’s air conditioning system serviced? If it’s been more than a year (or never) you could be losing precious dollars every month on your utility bill. When your air conditioner is serviced regularly, it doesn’t have to work as hard, so it uses less energy to run. Using less energy equals lower utility bills.
What the Numbers Say
You may think, well, how much of a difference does regular maintenance really make? According to the Department of Energy (DOE), air conditioners alone use more than 6% of all the electricity produced in the U.S. each year. Yet, an individual unit that’s not regularly maintained can lose from 5% to 15% percent in efficiency each year. Simply put, your air conditioner uses a lot of energy, and without maintenance, it wastes energy and you can lose money in the process.
A Little DIY Goes a Long Way
The DOE recommends regular cleaning or replacement of a dirty air filter to help maintain your system's efficiency. That’s because a dirty air filter slows down airflow, causing your system to overwork.
You don’t need to be an AC technician to clean or replace the air filter in your system. A clean air filter not only improves the system’s energy efficiency, it also helps maintain the good air quality in your home. Bear in mind that if you use your air conditioner heavily, you may need to change the air filter every month.
Help Your Air Conditioner Last Longer
Although most air conditioners are expected to last from 12 to 15 years, their lifespan can vary based on use and maintenance. You can help extend the life of your system by scheduling a minimum once-yearly tune-up. The short-term cost of yearly maintenance can help delay the tall-order cost of a new air conditioner, particularly when the national average for a new system is about $6,000.
Again, if you use your air conditioner for more than half the year, your system may need more frequent maintenance.
Cost of Air Conditioner Tune-up
If you schedule yearly servicing with a professional, an annual tune-up will probably cost between $100 and $200. However, if you have not been maintaining your system, the initial cost may be higher to get your system back in shape.
What Gets Tuned?
A typical HVAC maintenance service will include thoroughly cleaning the condenser coils. This also increases efficiency, which helps reduce energy costs. Cleaning the coils also can help reduce wear and tear on your system. Your technician will also inspect and lubricate the system’s moving parts. For some HVAC systems, the technician will also inspect the blower components, then clean and adjust them as needed.
Refrigerant Cost at Tune-up
Another step in a typical AC tune-up is to check the refrigerant level—topping off or replacing refrigerant helps your system maintain efficient operation. Be aware that many older systems use the common refrigerant, R-22 (Freon), and it is in the process of a mandatory government phaseout in 2020, which has resulted in increasingly higher replacement costs.
Home Warranty Coverage for HVAC Systems and More
Even with regular maintenance, your air conditioner may inexplicably stop working. If you have First American home warranty coverage for your system, you can simply call or log in to your Homeowner Account to request service. First American also offers home warranty plans that do not have caps on refrigerant, so with the cost of refrigerant rising you can rest assured that you’re covered no matter how much refrigerant the system needs.
Don’t have a home warranty? It’s important to consider what it can cost you to repair or replace your system–you may be shocked to find out how expensive it can be. Take a look at these repair and replacement costs. Without a home warranty, when your HVAC system breaks down, you could pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for repairs or a replacement.
Want to find out how to get your air conditioner covered? Get a free First American Home Warranty quote.