BBB offers Consumer know-how to Stay Cool
without Worry this Summer
Consumers have turned on their air conditioners much earlier this year due to the warmerthan normal temperatures and expect to keep them on for most of the summer. If this year is at all typical, more than 3 million residential air conditioningunits will fail before the cooling season is over. The Better Business Bureau has seen a significant increase in consumer inquiries with nearly 3,500 home heating/cooling business searches in the past month alone, up 40% from the sametimeframe last year. There are some steps consumers can take to help then staycool while avoiding budget-busting bills.
“Many households find refuge from the summer heat with their air conditioning,”said Warren Clark,Better Business Bureau President. “But staying cool can often be a costly challenge. Consumerscan do simple things to ensure their unit is running efficiently and if they’relooking to buy a new one or need repair, it’s important they find a reliablecontractor and know what to look for to minimize energy use.”
The BBB offers some important consumerstips as the July heat index is expected to rise.
- Set a programmable thermostat. It can save energy by allowing temperatures to rise when you’re not at home. Don’t keep your house colder than necessary.
- Check your Insulation. A properly insulated home has a comfort zone of approximately 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Closing off rooms you don’t use also can save money.
- Turn it Off. Don’t forget to turn the air conditioning off if you’re going on vacation – or even away for a long weekend.
- Plan for a Check-up. Consider having your heating and cooling system checked by an HVAC professional twice a year. Keeping your system properly maintained will lower your energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns and prolong the life of your unit. Without routine maintenance your system performance degrades over time until it eventually fails.
- Don’t get Duped. Consumers may see ads for cooling units on sale through retail or online outlets making ‘cool’ claims - but be wary. Cooling units do not perform the same as air conditioners although the advertising claims can tout similar benefits. Fridge Electric llc, currently C- rating with BBB serving Canton, OH, offers Arctic Pro Air Conditioner, Mira-Cool Air Conditioner, and Mira-Cool Air Cooler. Consumers have filed complaints with the BBB regarding problems with the portable products that claim to cool areas using "iced cooled" air after inserting a 4-6 hour reusable glacier ice blocks.
If you’re looking to buy or replace a unit for the summerseason, BBB recommends:
- Take a look at the unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher the number, the less energy it uses to cool. Look for a rating of 16 or higher. Some new units may have a rating of 25 or higher.
- Buy a unit that is sized to fit your home. Ask your contractor for recommendations.
- Check your refrigerant. If the label on your outside air conditioner lists R-22, you should consider an upgrade because R-22 contributes to ozone depletion. R-22 is being phased out and will no longer be available after 2015. R-410A is a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
- Consider placing the outside unit in the shade, where it will run more efficiently. You can plant shrubs or trees around it, but make sure not to plant so close that air flow is restricted. Keep weeds and other structures away from the unit.
- Ask for a written estimate and contract, and be sure you read and understand it. To make sure the bid is reasonable, seek estimates from at least three contractors.
- Don’t pay the entire amount before the unit is installed. Consider paying a third to secure the contract, another third when the work is half done and the final third only when the work is completed to your satisfaction.
- If you need to repair or replace your unit – or you just need routine maintenance, BBB Business Reviews can help you find a reliable contractor.