When the weather starts to get hot, most people start looking for ways to cool down. One popular way to do that is by using air conditioning. But what is air conditioning? How does it work? And how much does it cost? In this article, we will answer all those questions and more! We will also talk about the different types of AC systems that are available and the warning signs that indicate it’s time to replace your air conditioning unit.
What Is Air Conditioning?
Air conditioning is a system that is used to cool down air in a space. The system does this by removing heat from the air and then circulating the cooled air back into the room. AC systems can be used in both homes and businesses. AC systems came into being in the early 20th century and have been used in homes and businesses ever since.
There are several different types of AC systems, but they all work using the same basic principles. The most common types of air conditioning systems include:
- Split System AC: A split system AC has two parts, an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. The outdoor unit contains the compressor and the condenser. The indoor unit contains an evaporator. The two units are connected by a set of copper pipes.
- Ductless AC System: A ductless AC system is similar to a split system AC, but it does not require the use of ducts. Ductless air conditioners are a great alternative for residences without central heating or cooling, as well as rooms that are difficult to cool with your existing system.
- Packaged AC: A packaged AC unit is a single unit that contains all the necessary components of an air conditioning system. Packaged AC units are typically installed on the roof of a building or on a concrete pad.
How Does Air Conditioning Work?
Now that we know the different types of common residential AC systems, it’s time to understand how they work. All AC systems use a process called the refrigeration cycle to cool down the air. The refrigeration cycle has four steps:
- Step One: The compressor compresses the refrigerant, which raises its temperature.
- Step Two: The now-hot refrigerant is sent to the condenser, where it releases its heat.
- Step Three: The refrigerant cools down as it expands in the evaporator.
- Step Four: The now-cool refrigerant is sent back to the compressor to start the cycle over again.
The refrigeration cycle is a continuous process that happens over and over again. As long as the AC unit has power, it will continue to circulate the refrigerant and cool down the air.
How Much Does Air Conditioning Cost Per Month?
On average, the cost of operating an air conditioning system varies from $0.06 to $0.88 per hour. So, if we assume the system runs 8 hours a day, the monthly AC costs would be between $14.4 and $211.2, depending on your location and consumption patterns.
That said, there are several factors that have a big effect on the exact level of consumption of your AC. Among these, we can include the following:
- The House Size: A smaller home will need a less powerful AC unit, which will use less energy and be cheaper to operate.
- The Number of Rooms: More rooms mean more space to cool down, which will require a more powerful AC unit and increase your costs.
- The Insulation of the Home: A well-insulated home will lose less heat, which means the AC unit won’t have to work as hard to cool down the air.
- The Climate: Hotter climates will require the AC system to run more often and for longer periods, which will increase your costs.
- The Age of the AC Unit: Older units are less energy-efficient than newer ones.
- The AC Unit’s Size: A bigger AC unit will use more energy than a smaller one.
- Local Energy Costs: Energy costs vary from place to place. The overall cost of your AC is, therefore, tied to the local energy market.
- The Amount of Time The AC Is Running: The AC unit will use more energy the longer it runs.
- The Setting of the AC Unit: The lower the setting, the more energy the AC unit will use.
- The AC Unit’s Efficiency: More efficient AC units will use less energy and cost less to operate. AC units with a high Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) are the most efficient.
- Maintenance Costs: Neglecting to maintain your AC unit will result in higher energy costs and, eventually, the need for costly repairs. When thinking about air conditioning expenses, be sure to budget for AC unit upkeep. Air conditioner warranties are a wonderful way to save money on air conditioning maintenance because they may cover both repairs and replacements.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into the monthly cost of operating an air conditioning system. The best way to lower your expenses is to ensure your home is well-insulated and choose an AC unit that is the right size for your needs. You should also have your AC unit serviced regularly and have a home warranty plan to ensure it is always operating at peak efficiency and will not have to deal with unforeseen and costly repairs.
What Are The Signs That It’s Time To Replace Your AC Unit?
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your air conditioner until it stops working. Yet, like any other appliance in your home, your AC unit will eventually reach the end of its lifespan and need to be replaced.
So, how can you tell when it’s time for a new AC unit? Look out for the following signs:
- The AC Unit Is More Than 15 Years Old: The average lifespan of an AC unit is 15-20 years. If your unit is older than 15 years, it’s likely that it needs to be replaced. If possible, it’s a good idea to replace your AC unit if it’s older than ten years old.
- Your Energy Bills Are Increasing: An increase in your energy bills is one of the first signs that your AC unit is no longer operating as efficiently as it used to. If you notice a sudden spike in your energy costs with no change in usage, it’s time to call a professional.
- The AC Unit Requires Frequent Repairs: As an AC unit ages, it will require more and more repairs. If you find yourself paying for frequent repairs, it’s probably time to invest in a new unit.
- Your Home Is Not Cooling Evenly: If your AC unit is no longer cooling your home evenly, it’s likely that the coils are frozen, or the compressor is failing. These are both signs that it’s time for a replacement.
- The AC Unit Is Making Strange Noises: If you notice strange noises coming from your AC unit, it could be a sign that some of the internal components are starting to fail. Any noise other than the sound of the fan should be a cause for concern. If you notice any strange noises, be sure to call a professional right away.
- Fluid Leaks: If you notice any fluid leaks around your AC unit, it’s a sign that the coils are damaged and need to be replaced. Water is a normal byproduct of the AC cooling process, but any other fluid leaks should be cause for concern.
- The AC Unit Is Emanating Strange Smells: If you notice any strange smells coming from your AC unit, it’s a sign that the coils are dirty or there is an electrical issue. If you notice any odd smells, be sure to call a professional right away.
- The AC Unit Is Using R-22 Freon: R-22 Freon is a type of coolant that is being phased out because it damages the ozone layer. If your AC unit uses R-22 Freon, it’s a sign that it’s outdated and needs to be replaced. R-410A refrigerant is the new industry standard and is much more environmentally friendly.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to call a professional for an inspection. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action. In most cases, replacing the AC unit is the best option. However, if the unit is still under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired for free or at a reduced cost. If it’s no longer under the manufacturer’s warranty, you can still take advantage of free or reduced repair or replacement costs by opting for a home warranty.
Simply put, a home warranty is a service contract that covers the repair or replacement of your home’s major appliances and systems. This includes your air conditioner, furnace, plumbing, electrical system, and more. A home warranty can save you a lot of money on repairs and replacements, so it’s definitely worth considering if your AC unit is starting to show signs of age. Get a free home warranty quote from First Premier Home Warranty today and see how much you could save!