Air Conditioners Running Overtime, Repairmen Too

By Julie Montanaro
July 2, 2014

If your air conditioner can't seem to keep up today you are not alone.

The heat and humidity combined today made it feel like it was between 105 and 108 degrees outside.

That means not only is your AC working overtime, the repairmen who arrive to fix them are too.

It was a rude awakening for the Kilgore family. The thermostat was set for 75, but by morning it was 83 degrees inside and by noon it had topped 87.

"Like a boiler. It's very, very ... I go outside and it's cooler out there than it is in here," Holly Kilgore said.

Tyler Payne is a service technician with Barineau Heating and Air. This is one of nearly a dozen stops today.

"This time of year we're not sitting around in the office we're running," Payne said. "I'm lucky to get home at nine or ten o'clock at night."

Most calls are from folks whose air conditioners are running, but not cooling.

"Now this unit is in the attic," Payne said as he climbed the stairs.

Sometimes it's as simple as a capacitor. Sometimes it's as complicated - and expensive - as a blown compressor or a leaky coil.

With temperatures in the mid 90's and the heat index topping 100, air conditioning technicians have been inundated as air conditioners strain to keep up.

"I really miss the air conditioning," Holly Kilgore said. "You never know how much you need it until it's gone."

Here are some tips from Energy Star that may help ease the strain on your air conditioner. They cost little or nothing:

- try setting your AC thermostat at 78%

- when you're home, turn on your ceiling fans in addition to your air conditioner. that can make it feel 2 or 3 degrees cooler

- close your curtains and shades during the heat of the day, especially on the west and south sides of your home

- don't use ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers, or use them in the evening when it's cooler

- and be sure to replace your air filter every three months

Then of course there are pricier options including having your AC serviced every year and buying a new energy efficient air conditioner. It uses 10% less energy, but depending on the size of your home it could set you back a couple thousand dollars.

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