August 12, 2009

High Utility Bill and Hot Guests at 3 Palms!

by: Taz Loomans

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All of you who live in Phoenix know well that July is one of our hottest months of the year.  Things like “It is like the surface of the sun outside” have been said about this month.  Imagine how hard our air-conditioning has to work to keep us comfortable in outside temperatures like 112-118 degrees.

Two things happened to alarm me that something is amiss with our air-conditioning unit at 3 Palms:

1.    I had a party for my family.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a giant family.  Only 50% of my giant family was in town but that comprises of 15 people and I had them all over about a week ago.  The party was fun, good food, good company…but everyone was so hot!  I went to turn my thermostat down to 75 degrees from the 80 degrees it’s usually set to.  All to no avail, people were still really hot and uncomfortable.  Along with cat allergies, the heat only aggravated the situation for some of my less fortunate guests.  I had used the oven that day to bake my enchiladas and I thought that this is why the house was warm.  Plus adding all those people added to the heat load.  But why couldn’t our HVAC unit compensate for these things?

2.    I got the electricity bill in the mail and I was so shocked to see it that in my mind I thought our tenants had switched over the wrong unit into their name.  Our unit couldn’t possibly be using this much electricity!  Following this brain fart through I actually called APS and asked them to switch the units to the “correct” names.  All this got straightened out in my mind after my husband pointed to our unit number and the proceeded to laugh hysterically at me.  Still, why the heck was our electricity bill so high?

So we decided to get someone out to come take a look at our unit.  Kenny from Wright Hand Handyman told us that there is a huge gap at the roof-top unit where it meets the duct and that 40% of our cool air is being sucked out of this gap.  No duh!  Unfortunately, we were somewhat aware of this problem but we had put it out of our brains thinking it was going to be a big investment to fix it plus we had alot of other things on our minds.  Sadly, this fundamental energy wasting issue had escaped us all these months and came to bite us in the butt with a high electricity bill and hot guests.

Kenny did a wonderful job fixing this gap and gave us some other hints as well.  He asked if one of us works from home.  I thought, wow, is this guy omniscient or what?  He said usually people can keep their bill low by programming their thermostats to be set at 85 degrees while everyone is out working at a real job somewhere besides their home.  All hope is not lost thought if you’re an entrepreneur working from home.  He said we could probably get away with setting the thermostat at 82 or 83 degrees if we have an oscillating fan under the vent closest to where we’re spending time.  As the cool air drops, the fan distributes it and blows it your way.  I have tried this and it works!  I am perfectly comfortable with the fan and we’re saving on our energy costs!  Woohoo!

Do you have any air-conditioning hiccups to share?  Leave me a comment!

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