Could AC System Refrigerant Loss Be Contributing to Higher Cooling Bills?

Could AC System Refrigerant Loss Be Contributing to Higher Cooling Bills?

Could AC System Refrigerant Loss Be Contributing to Higher Cooling Bills?

7 April 2022
Construction & Contractors, Blog

As utility rates continue to rise sharply across the nation, many homeowners are taking steps to improve the operating efficiency of their current air conditioning system. One of these steps may involve reviewing past utility bills to get a better picture of how much more energy their home may be using for cooling during the summer months. If the number of kilowatts of power consumed fluctuates widely or seems to be increasing without justification during the cooling season, it is important to determine why.

Since some unexplained increases in electricity usage are often attributed to refrigerant loss, homeowners who find this type of clue should consider having their AC system refrigerant levels checked to determine if a leak or other repair issues are occurring. 

Refrigerant loss causes the AC system to work harder than it normally would

Because AC systems use refrigerant to help remove heated air and replace it with chilled air, a reduction in refrigerant levels can immediately force the air conditioning system to work harder as it strives to perform its job of cooling the home to the setting selected on the thermostat. If the loss is slow, perhaps from the formation of a pinhole leak in a refrigerant line, the increase in energy usage may initially be too small to be easily noted. As time passes, however, and the size of the hole increases or more holes develop, the system will continue to work harder and consume increasing amounts of energy that will be easier to notice. 

Refrigerant losses that occur suddenly, such as when a refrigerant line is broken, typically cause a spike in energy use that is much more noticeable. Homeowners who are dealing with an air conditioning system that has lost much of its refrigerant are also likely to notice that it takes much longer for their home to cool down, or they may experience warm air emanating from the vents inside the home. Other immediately noticeable signs of refrigerant loss can include hissing noises or finding ice formations on the coils of the AC evaporator component. 

Refrigerant loss can be dangerous to inhale and damaging to the environment

Homeowners who are dealing with refrigerant loss in their air conditioning system should understand that exposure to the refrigerant used in their system can be dangerous to both their health and the environment, in general. Because it is odorless and tasteless, homeowners may not notice exposure to AC refrigerant until symptoms of poisoning occur, including headaches, respiratory difficulties, nausea, skin irritation or vomiting. 

Homeowners who believe they may be dealing with refrigerant loss should immediately contact a reputable air conditioning repair contractor to inspect the system and make necessary repairs. 

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