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Tue, Feb. 25

Ask the contractor: Change HVAC filters monthly at minimum

This is the time of the year when we must deal with preventative maintenance.

The monsoons are on the way so we should make sure our roofs are strong, stable and sound. Our irrigation system is now waking up after a long winter's sleep and we need to check those lines and sprinkler heads. Another major item is the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) unit. We are going to answer some questions on HVAC units this week, and then move over to the roof and irrigation systems in the following weeks. Let's make sure our homes are ready to handle the wind, rain and heat.

Q: What should we do to maintain our HVAC system to ensure it works properly?-Ed, Chino Valley

A: Filters should be changed monthly. This is critical, especially during the hot summer months. Never go longer than three months without changing the filters. Your system can become clogged in a heartbeat if your filters are dirty. Make sure that the coils on your system are clean and the unit is clear of all branches and tree limbs. It is important to maintain adequate air flow. I hate cleaning the registers and air vents, but I try to dust them every other month with the vacuum.

If you follow these simple tips, your unit should run fine. Don't forget to schedule an annual tune-up, which is extremely important to stay cool.

Q: How can we save money on our HVAC electric bills?

-Tom and Cathy, Prescott

A: Again, change the filters monthly. Dirty filters cause the system to work on overload, and the harder the system works, the more it will cost you in utility expenses.

If you turn up the thermostat to 78 and keep your ceiling fan on, you should save approximately 2 percent on your cooling bills. I have my thermostat set at 77 and I feel like I am living in Barrow, Alaska.

If you do not have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to get one. This will help you save money quicker than you think and will run your system in an efficient manner.

Q: Our HVAC system is making clinking and growling noises. The system is 18 years old. Should we replace it? - Jack and Martha, Prescott Valley

A: The new and improved systems on the market are certainly more energy-efficient than your 18-year-old system. A new system will have a higher seasonal energy-efficiency rating, or SEER, so without a doubt you will save money. SEER rating measures how efficiently the HVAC system operates. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently your unit will work. So a new system could reduce your bills dramatically.

I am guessing that your current system might have a SEER rating of 8 and the new super-cool and energy-efficient systems on the market today can reach a SEER rating of 18 and higher. If your current system is an 8 SEER and it is replaced with a 16 SEER, it should reduce your bill by 50 percent.

Yavapai County Contractors Association is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to or through

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