Many people will argue that the annual maintenance of your air conditioning system seems frivolous and a waste of hard-earned money. Some even say that it is only a marketing tactic for HVAC companies to gouge money from innocent homeowners.
Are you in the camp of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Or do you believe that spending money on regular AC maintenance can actually save you more money? Which is it…will an air conditioner tune up save money?
Is Air Conditioning Maintenance Worth It?
Yes. An air conditioner tune up is worth it and will save you money. A dirty air conditioner can reduce the efficiency of your system and increase your electric consumption by 5% to 15%. Additionally, regular maintenance can prevent expensive breakdowns and extend the life of your air conditioner by 10-15 years. You know this already, but here’s the interesting part…
Even though it’s proven to save over and over again, did you know that it’s estimated that only 42% of homeowners take the time to have their air conditioners maintained?
Why such poor attention to an expensive and important part of our homes? Why doesn’t it matter even with all the benefits? There’s one big reason that explains it all.
The Role of ‘Delay Discounting’ in AC Maintenance
An international network of researchers who profess to be “interested in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, repair, and the myriad forms of labor and expertise that sustain our human-built world” conducted studies on why most people nowadays neglect maintenance.
The analysis does not only cover the maintenance of air conditioners but also other home and industrial equipment whose owners and regulators feel low to none need to maintain them.
One of the biggest factors that the researchers found that affect individuals and organizations to disregard maintenance is a cognitive bias called ‘hyperbolic, or delay discounting’.
Let us step back a bit and define cognitive bias first. In simplest terms, it is a person or group of people’s ways of thinking, deciding, and perceiving the world that may not necessarily reflect reality and are often flawed.
Back to hyperbolic, or delay, discounting—it is “the idea that humans prefer to enjoy rewards now than for one that arrives later, even if the later reward is greater.” Since maintenance costs money, even if it is only a meager amount, the rewards are still not visible in the present, most people look down upon and simply do not do it.
People often find some other exciting ways to spend their money on which rewards are readily apparent. Without realizing it, because of neglecting to maintain their air conditioning system and other vital home devices, many are choosing to pay for costlier repairs or buy replacement equipment.
Both scenarios can be avoided if they had invested in regular inexpensive upkeep.
Another study in 2012 explored how delay discounting behavior affects different races and cultures. They compared Westerners represented by the Americans and the Easterners represented by Koreans in terms of delay discounting by contrasting behavior and brain activity.
The tests revealed that the Americans trump the Koreans in exhibiting significantly greater present bias and elevated delay discounting rates. This comes as no surprise then that the US population generally ignores the importance of routine maintenance.
Air Conditioner Tune Up Benefits
The US Department Energy supports the recommendation to submit residential air conditioning systems to regular maintenance and servicing, at least once a year. The government sector affirms that such prudent action of a homeowner would help detect major system problems early on and prevent future mechanical failures that could otherwise be avoided.
An air conditioner that is also serviced consistently is proven to be more energy-efficient. Even the simplest task of routinely cleaning the internal mechanism of an AC system would relieve the machine from the unnecessary burden of working too hard. Clogged filters also contribute to a decrease in an air conditioner’s efficiency and increase your electric consumption by 5% to 15%.
The life of the air conditioning unit can be extended by regular upkeep. The general opinion is that a cooling system can only last for 10 to 15 years, and it is ready for replacement. However, with the right kind of maintenance, the life of the machine could be prolonged to its maximum potential of 20-25 years.
If the AC experienced a serious breakdown in need of warranty intervention, the firm would seek proof of the annual maintenance of the unit before they agree to cover the cost of repairs. Without regular servicing of the unit, the warranty claim may be revoked due to possible negligence in maintaining the unit properly.
The indoor air quality or IAQ is significantly impacted by the condition of your air conditioning system. If the IAQ inside your home is poor, your family’s health could be jeopardized. Many airborne allergens and volatile compounds have the potential to damage your wellbeing if the AC system is not well-kept. This could lead to needless medical expenses for anti-allergy medicines and other cures for respiratory issues.
The 2020 statistics revealed that there is already an estimate of 1.9 billion air conditioning units worldwide. Yet there seems to be no stopping this obsession as the International Energy Agency or EIA predicted that by the year 2050, this figure will steadily increase to reach 5.5 billion.
Among the top nations around the world that compete for the highest percentage of households that have air conditioning, the United States ranked second to Japan who has an average of 91%. The US is exhilarated to have 90% of its residences to own any type of cooling system.
Future Rewards Of AC Maintenance Outweigh The Present Cost
The good news is not everyone in the country buys this erroneous way of thinking about maintenance. People who see the added value of home devices such as their air conditioning system to their family’s comfort and health put a premium on keeping it in tiptop shape. And they enjoy these benefits:
Detect System Problems Early
At the end of the day, no matter how expensive or modern your brand of an air conditioner is, it is still a machine, subject to wear-and-tear, and not exempted from system failures. By regularly checking, especially through the eyes of a certified HVAC expert, you will be able to detect early any mechanical or electrical issues of the unit.
Early detection of system problems is frequently the key to resolve them on time and avoid costly breakdowns in the future. Imagine if your AC broke down on you on a hot scorching summer day. You would probably be willing to pay any amount to have it fixed right away.
Make Your AC Energy-Efficient
Even if you cannot live without your air conditioner, especially through a blaring summer, you also cannot stand paying for humongous electricity bills each month. If you neglect regularly maintaining your AC unit, you might be setting yourself up to that painful experience month on month.
The United States Department of Energy or DOE, the authority on the nation’s policies concerning energy and safety in nuclear power, strongly suggests routine upkeep of the air conditioning system to minimize its consumption of energy.
“Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases,” their page dedicated to maintenance benefits says.
A classic example is the simple task of cleaning and replacing the air filters. Even though it can be done by homeowners themselves, it is still being consistently forgotten.
The DOE wants Americans to alter that behavior by saying, “Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”
To put it in a dollar perspective, the US Energy Information Administration or EIA determined that air-conditioning costs can reach an annual average of $525 in the hot-humid regions. If a household performs the basic maintenance of an effortless filter change, the family could have the savings of $26.25 to $78.75!
Prolong the Life of Your AC
Do you believe that your physical body and strong health can be maintained through consistent annual visits to the doctor with a checkup? “Why, yes!” you might exclaim. Then it is no different from the efficiency and long life of your AC unit.
A trustworthy HVAC expert would diagnose problems that a regular person would miss. They would perform small to complicated fixes that could prevent the issue from escalating to a full-on repair and replacement.
With proper care and constant care, CNN Money vouches that your air conditioning system can make it to that desired 15 to 25 years lifespan that other units without upkeeping can only dream of.
Ensure You’re Protected by Warranty
You will never know when you are going to need your warranty for your AC to work for you. Most HVAC manufacturers are willing to cover repairs within 5 to 10 years when the unit was purchased.
If your AC needs a major repair and if it still falls within the covered period of your warranty, realize that these companies are smart about it, too. They would often ask for proof of annual maintenance of the unit before they agree to cover the cost of repairs.
Why would they do that? They want to make sure that the breakdown of the unit did not occur because of your mere negligence of keeping it in good condition. Since repair costs are without a doubt expensive, you would want to invest in a yearly checkup and servicing. This would give peace of mind that you could take advantage of your warranty with a clean conscience.
Reduce the Risk of Health-related Expenses
Allergies caused by airborne particulates are not only irritating but they are also very expensive.
A study published in 2008 entitled Allergic Rhinitis: Common, Costly, and Neglected revealed that in 2005, Americans spent $11 billion on doctors’ bills, prescription drugs, and other medical care to cure allergy symptoms.
The researchers only focused on allergies caused by particles circulating in a common home: pollen, dust, and animal hair. If these allergy-triggers are not eliminated, the indoor air quality suffers which in turn can threaten your family’s well-being.
Regrettably, these allergens could just as easily be reduced if not eliminated by regular maintenance of your air conditioning unit. Your AC filters can trap these contaminants and prevent them from recirculating inside your home. But if left unchecked, the dirt buildup could turn against you and expose you again to the very same particles it caught.
It goes without saying: Prevention is—and will always be—better than the cure. Annual maintenance of your air conditioning system may cost you money once a year, but it could save you from much costlier repairs, headaches, and heartbreaks in the long run.