Central A/C You Can Count On

Are you trying to keep cool and keep your energy bills down? Replacing an old central air conditioning system can help you do just that.

But Consumer Reports says you have to shop carefully. Its survey of more than 40,000 subscribers reveals some systems have been much better at keeping their cool than others.

Contractor Tim Mosher says it's important to take good care of a central air conditioning system.

Mosher says, "The preventative maintenance in the beginning of the season is better than having to have a serviceman come out during a heat wave."

And Consumer Reports says carefully choosing an air conditioning system can help you avoid service calls, too.

Its latest product-reliability survey shows some central air systems have been significantly more repair-prone-Amana, Goodman, and York.

Dan DiClerico of Consumer Reports says, "In the past six year, close to one in five of these systems needed repairs. That's a lot."

Consumer Reports' survey also shows how inconvenient repairs can be.

Ten percent of those polled said they needed repeated repairs in the first year.

Eighteen percent reported their system broke down completely. And 39 percent lost AC for at least a day.

DiClerico says, "About 30 percent who had problems had to pay $150 or more for the repair."

To prevent having to call a repairman, Consumer Reports says invest in a more reliable brand, including ones from American Standard, Rheem, or Trane.

To prevent having to call a repairman, Consumer Reports says invest in a more reliable brand, including ones from American Standard, Rheem, or Trane.

And make sure plants and hedges are at least two feet away from the air conditioning unit.

Also, clean filters and grills monthly. And be sure to seal and insulate every duct.

DiClerico says, "Up to 30 to 40 percent of energy can escape through leaks when ducts aren't finished."

Another energy saver-use a programmable thermostat and set the temperature higher when you're out of the house.

Consumer Reports' survey turned up more interesting information-homeowners who hired the installer themselves versus those who let a home builder do the hiring had significantly fewer repairs.

And once your system is installed, Consumer Reports says it's important to get it inspected by a professional at the beginning of every cooling season to avoid repair problems.


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