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Reasons HVAC Systems Lose Efficiency

Aug 5, 2022 | Blog

Here in Florida, summer can be a little intense. The extreme heat and humidity put our air conditioning units through a lot of stress while they work almost constantly to cool our homes. It’s normal for our electric bills to spike in summer as A/C units are forced to run more frequently, but outdoor heat is not the only thing that can cause your air conditioning to lose efficiency. Here we’ll go over other reasons HVAC systems lose efficiency and may be costing more in utility bills than it should be.

Clogged Air Filters

You air conditioning system needs to pull air through its filter in order to cool your home efficiently. As the filter fills up with all of the dust, pollen, dander, and other debris from your home it becomes more and more difficult for air to flow through the filter. When the filter is clogged up with dust and debris, it requires the system to use more power to pull an adequate amount of air through the filter, which leads to reduced efficiency. You should check your air filter packaging for recommendations on how often to replace it. Some more advanced filters only need to be replaced twice a year, but for the more common 1” filters it’s typically recommended to replace them every 30 to 60 days. If you’re waiting longer than that, you could be adding strain to the air conditioning system and losing efficiency. Not only can this cause the temperature in your home to rise, but it can lead to higher electric bills too. So change those filters!

Old Systems

It makes sense that over time our air conditioning units begin to show signs of age. As mechanical parts begin to wear down after years of use, the whole system loses efficiency. On the other hand, we have seen some very old A/C units in fantastic shape from a lifetime of regular maintenance. Unfortunately, even the best maintained unit can’t keep up with one that’s 10 years newer. By design, newer A/C units are much more efficient and held to higher standards and SEER ratings. We talk more about SEER ratings and efficiency in this article about why we choose Trane units.

Dirty Coils

Evaporator coils and condenser coils basically make up the science of an air conditioning system. Warmth is absorbed from the air by the evaporator coils inside your home while condenser coils in the unit outside of your home send that heat into the great outdoors. All kinds of indoor and outdoor debris end up coating the coils over time, including dirt, dust, and mold. As the coils become caked in debris, it becomes more difficult for the system to absorb and release heat. You should be sure to keep the area around your outdoor condenser unit clean and free of dirt and debris. An A/C technician will be able to let you know if your coils are in need of cleaning or if something else is causing your unit to run less efficiently.

Insufficient Insulation or Damage to Ductwork

When a brand new air conditioning unit is installed, everything should be nicely secured and tucked into place so that your air can flow freely and well-insulated through the ducts. Over time leaks can form in ductwork and insulation can be knocked loose, especially if there is animal activity in the area where the ductwork was installed. Leaks, holes, and loose insulation can greatly reduce airflow and efficiency of the unit.

Heat Sources Near Thermostat

This one is an easy fix! A warm lamp or candle placed near the thermostat can cause the system to think the home is warmer than it is. Direct sunlight hitting the thermostat and improperly sealed wall penetrations near the thermostat are two of the most common causes of heat sources disrupting the thermostat’s regular operation. This causes the air conditioning to run harder and more often than it should be to reach your desired temperature. So, be sure to keep those heat sources away from your thermostat!

Motor Requires Maintenance

Regular wear can cause a motor to slow down and perform irregularly over time. It’s important to have maintenance done on the motor periodically where little things like tightening screws, checking for rust, lubricating moving parts, and replacing corroded pieces can greatly extend the life of your entire unit. Even better, its efficiency should greatly improve which means lower electricity bills.

Refrigerant Leaks & Corrosion

We talked earlier about the impact dirty coils can have on system efficiently. Coils are also prone to pinhole leaks caused by corrosion and age. When refrigerant leaks, it causes the A/C system to become undercharged and has a massive effect on the efficiency of the air conditioning system as a whole. An A/C technician will be able to test refrigerant levels of your system and let you know if coil leakage may be the root of your efficiency issue.

Now that you know about these reasons HVAC systems lose efficiency, all we have to say is: Don’t worry! Many of these efficiency issues are a piece of cake for a trained A/C professional to diagnose and fix. Whether it’s a maintenance, service, or a new A/C, we’ll be here to help you when you need us.

Air & Energy is a family-owned and operated company providing air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and generator services to residents in Manatee County, FL for over 39 years.

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