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Keep your AC in tip-top shape to stay cool and save money

It's time for the hot, sticky weather, so make sure your home stays cool while your energy bills stay low this summer.

One important item every summer checklist should include is making sure your home's air-conditioning system is operating properly and efficiently, and can keep your house comfortable when the hottest of the hot weather hits. Once you know your air-conditioning is working efficiently, there are other simple steps you can take to keep cooling bills low throughout the season.

If you have a central air-conditioning system, make sure to get it checked by an HVAC/R professional. When scheduling an annual air-conditioning checkup, keep in mind that many offer special deals on seasonal preventative maintenance, so it can be beneficial to shop around. Not all HVAC/R technicians offer the same level of expertise, so the responsibility falls on homeowners to ensure they get the protection and quality assurance they deserve.

Most consumers are unaware that the HVAC/R industry does not require technicians to take mandatory competency tests. However, many technicians go through voluntary testing to obtain certification from North American Technician Excellence, the nation's largest independent, third-party, nonprofit certification body for HVAC/R technicians.

When it comes to selecting a contractor to perform an assessment of your air-conditioning system, choose one that employs NATE-certified technicians. This helps ensure your equipment is installed right and operating properly, offering maximum comfort, energy savings and peace of mind.

Once you've confirmed that your air-conditioning system is running efficiently, there are several things you can do to keep energy bills to a minimum:

• Raise the thermostat about 5 degrees. Each degree saves a percentage off your cooling energy bill.

• Don't obstruct airflow around air conditioner units. Keep them clear of plants and debris.

• Clean the air filters. Check them every couple of weeks and change them at least twice in the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.

• Review last year's energy bills and keep an eye on cooling costs throughout this season to monitor for major increases or inconsistencies.

As homeowners continue to adopt ecofriendly, high-efficiency products and appliances, it's important to realize that even the greenest equipment can waste money and energy if it's not installed, serviced and maintained properly.

By working with NATE-certified technicians, homeowners can have confidence that their HVAC/R equipment offers the energy efficiency it promises.

When scheduling an air-conditioning checkup, request a NATE-certified technician.

To find a qualified local contractor who employs certified technicians, look for the NATE logo on their website or promotional materials, or go to

By making sure your air-conditioning is operating efficiently and by adopting a few energy-friendly habits, you can maximize your family's comfort while saving both energy and money this summer.

Keep your AC in tip-top shape to stay cool and save money 05/31/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 5:54pm]
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