Simple Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips that Can Save You Money



AC money-saving maintenance tips

U.S. homeowners spend about $29 billion a year on energy costs associated with central air conditioning.1  That’s a lot of money to keep cool! But when AC systems aren’t running at peak performance, the cost can go up even higher - meaning larger utility bills. But with regular maintenance, you can potentially reduce your air conditioner’s cooling emergencies and help extend the life of your system.

Just like changing the oil on your car, your central air conditioning system requires regular maintenance to run at peak performance year after year. Some routine maintenance can be handled by homeowners. However, there are other jobs that should only be performed by a professional licensed HVAC technician.  

Below are maintenance tips to keep in mind as you look to get the best performance possible from your air conditioner.2

DIY AC Maintenance


Filters – According to Energy.gov, replacing a clogged filter with a clean one can help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%. Dirty filters block airflow and can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. On average, filters should be replaced every 90 days depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates. However, your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.2

If the air condition portion of your energy bill equals $100, you may save an average of up to $15 per month just by replacing the dirty filters with clean ones!  But the real savings comes with minimizing the possible service calls for air conditioning emergencies and extending the life of your equipment!

Exterior AC Unit - Cut back foliage and remove any debris left by nearby dryer vents, falling leaves and grass trimmings.  Anything that reduces ideal airflow can make your air condition system work harder, reduce its performance and can cost you money.2

Fins - The fins on your evaporator or condenser coils should not be bent – this can reduce or even block airflow. To fix bent fins, contact your local HVAC professional contractor or technician. Bent fins can reduce the ability of the unit to deliver the energy efficiency you expect and might lead to premature coil failure.2

Condensate Drains - Check the condensate drain from your central air conditioning system. The drain line should be located near the outside unit, leading from your AC unit’s indoor evaporator coil commonly located inside your home. The drain is typically a small PVC pipe; however, some drain lines may be copper.2

Most likely, if you see a consistent drip on a hot day, the condensate drain is working properly. When condensate drains are clogged, the unit may not be able to properly reduce indoor humidity which can cause poor performance and loss of energy efficiency.

Thermostat Batteries - Homeowners should replace batteries on their thermostat as necessary. If your particular model does not have a “low battery” signal or alert, your thermostat batteries should be replaced annually, or at the same time as the fire/CO2 detector batteries are changed.2

Homeowners should always consult with their professional or licensed HVAC contractor to determine equipment-specific, DIY maintenance efforts that can help you keep your air conditioning system operating at peak performance levels and help reduce energy costs.

Contractor AC Maintenance


Trained licensed HVAC professionals are better equipped to identify any airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential failure concerns. To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, homeowners should hire an HVAC contractor to perform a more detailed check-up. The ideal time for profession HVAC maintenance is during pre-season, before you need to operate your central air conditioning system.  

While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may likely include the following actions:
  • Check for adequate air flow
  • Look over condenser and evaporator coils
  • Check refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
  • Clear drain lines and pans
  • Check electrical connections
  • Check operation of blower components
  • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
  • Inspect Exterior Fan

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1 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
2 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner