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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Maintenance first step in reducing air conditioning bills

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  • With temperatures moving upward, keeping the house cool depends on a cooling system that is in good working order.
    Over time, even the best cooling systems will eventually work at less than maximum efficiency.
    If a cooling system isn't putting out cool air like it should or its not working at all, several factors should be considered.
    Cooling systems depend on Freon and if the Freon level is low, it needs to be recharged. Other issues included the filter could be clogged or the condenser unit may be dirty and should be cleaned, said David Kramer, electrician for Adam's Electric.
    A clogged filter will cut down on the airflow and the coil in the condenser could freeze. A dirty condenser unit will cause the unit to run at less than maximum efficiency and should be cleaned out. Dirt will not allow the unit to dissipate the heat properly.
    For homes with window units, it is vital that the electrical system is able to handle the additional load. If an extension cord has to be used, the cord must be the right size to handle the electrical pull from the unit.
    If the air conditioner is in good working order, a way to increase cooling efficiency is to use ceiling fans. Fans circulate the air when the air conditioner fan is not running. This air exchange makes the air cooler and that means the air conditioner runs less and saves some money.
    Using a ceiling fan can increase efficiency to a point that the thermostat can be raised a degree to two and save the homeowner money, Kramer said.
    On some older systems, it is difficult for the unit to get ahead of the heat in the house and it never gets caught up so the unit runs continuously costing the homeowner money.
    Some homeowners might be tempted to change the thermostat during the day or shut it off completely when no one is home and that will save money.
    Unfortunately, that creates a false illusion of saving money. With changes like that, a unit might never get caught up, Kramer said.
    Homeowners and renters should find a temperature they can live with and leave the thermostat at that setting.
    If a system is 10 years old or older, it could save the homeowners money to have a qualified technician check it out and make adjustments as necessary.
    If a family needs help getting a fan, they can contact the Pratt Police Department or Pratt Fire Department. Kramer said.
    The Home Fires organization and the Salvation Army at 619 North Main can also be of assistance. Contact Tiffany Ailstock at the Salvation Army for assistance.
    Some homes suddenly find themselves with a bill they can't afford to pay because kilowatt-hours can creep up quickly. If that happens, the person should contact the city clerk immediately to make arrangements for paying the bill.
    Page 2 of 2 - The worst thing a homeowner can do is not contacting the city if they can't pay the bill, said Pratt City Clerk LuAnn Kramer.
    "We will work with the residents," Kramer said. "We want them paid up every month. If they get behind, it's too hard to catch up."
    The city is more than willing to work with a customer but the resident must make the contact if they are having problems paying the bill. Medical issues are taken into consideration if paying the bills is an issue.
    When no communication happens, the city sends out warnings to the homeowner if their electricity is about to be shut off. If a person fails to comply by 5 p.m. on the day the electricity, they will be charged a five percent late fee and get an eight to 10 day grace period.
    A yellow final notice will come in the mail and an additional two or three-day grace period is added then the electricity will be disconnected.
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