Air Conditioner Service – Preventive or Emergency?

By Peter Wagner*

As a leading HVAC company in the Kitchener Waterloo area, we get exposed to a lot of questions about Air Conditioner service. Like our views on heating and furnaces, we are constantly surprised how people who are looking to lower their air conditioning costs fail to undertake simple preventive maintenance. A simple air conditioning tune up (that may be part of a furnace and air conditioning maintenance plan) performed at the beginning of the cooling season can be the key to not only lower air conditioning bills but also better reliability and even better installation decisions.

The simple facts about lowering air conditioning costs are that with periodic preventive maintenance (sometimes called air conditioning tune-ups or check-ups) your system will run more efficiently and minimize the need for emergency air conditioning repairs. Consider this; tune-ups cost around $50 and only need to be done somewhere between every 12 and 24 months. Because our cooling seasons in Southern Ontario are short, it is not uncommon to get up to 15 years of life from an air conditioner. Assuming that you start getting tune-ups done when the unit is 5 years old, you will be spending $250 – $500 in preventive maintenance. Compare that with the fact that an average emergency air conditioning repair is around $272. If you manage to prevent just one emergency repair over 15 years you will be further ahead.

As we touched on in the last paragraph, not only will an air conditioner tune-up save you repair costs, but your system will operate more efficiently. Here the math says, that the check-up is around $50 and the reduction in your electricity costs will be in the neighbourhood of $110 per season. This, of course, is based on current electricity prices, and we know that the government has prepared us for electricity price increases in the neighbourhood of 25% a year – taking the savings up to over $135 a year!

To me, those are nice benefits. The real reason to have an air conditioner tune-up is to prepare for the upcoming season. Qualified Air Conditioning technicians are trained to spot signs of premature failure. By having the tune-up done early in the season, you have a chance to make a very informed purchasing decision for your air conditioning installation. By spending the $50 up front, you can determine what size, brand, and efficiency is best for you, and then research the market to buy the most cost effective solution. It’s fairly common to save much more than $50 by shopping around. Be careful not to focus on solely price. Remember you’re buying for the long term, so reliability, brand, experience and warranty should all be part of the buying process.

*Peter Wagner is the General Manager of Hogg Heating & Air Conditioning

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