Baby it’s HOT outside! Yes, in Southeast Texas that is an understatement. God bless the inventor of indoor air conditioning. Air conditioning is definitely something this girl takes for granted. If the air conditioning is out head for a hotel, is my mantra.

Sure, I am all about going “green” and saving a buck or two but I am not about to give up my AC in the summer. Telling someone who lives in Texas not to use air conditioning is like telling someone in Alaska not to heat their home in the winter. It’s completely ludicrous. My dad’s air conditioner went out this week and I was reminded of the discomforts of living without central air conditioning or window units. Deciding that I did not want to part with my beloved air conditioning for even a day, I began to research ways to cut cooling costs and maintain our current system.

If you can afford it, invest in a programmable timer. A timer can start your system at just the right time, bringing in cool air moments before you arrive home for the day and automatically raising the temperature after you leave for work. By programming you’re air conditioning system, you’ll cool your home only when it needs to be cooled, which will save you money.
 Changing the filter often will improve the efficiency of your system. For some reason, this is one of those mundane tasks I often forget. Out of sight becomes out of mind is my excuse. Nonetheless, a clean filter works in harmony with your unit; a dirty filter will cause it to work harder, using more electricity in the process.

 Check your homes installation. Look for gaps around windows and doors, close up blinds and shades during the day, and keep doors open to all of the rooms that you want cooled.

Make sure your air ducts are free of obstruction in order to deliver cool air to your home. Another thing that is easy to forget is the condition of your condenser. You want the condenser to be free of leaves, debris, shrubbery or any other obstructions that can get in the way of your system.

Routine maintenance is ideal to maintaining your current system. However, if you are like me it is hard to spend money on something that isn’t broken. Paying as little as $149 for regular maintenance can end up saving thousands in the long run. Robert Currie – owner of Innovative Air Solutions in Bridge City – discussed the advantages of a bi-yearly comprehensive check and maintenance program that his company offers.”Having a regular maintenance program not only keeps your heating and cooling systems up and running, but it also allows technicians to catch and fix any potential problems with the system so customers are never without service.”

Unfortunately, sometimes your system just can’t be repaired, as in my dad’s case. Older units are much less efficient than the ones available today. Contemporary units all come with a SEER rating, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which determines how efficient your equipment works. Some newer units can actually pay for themselves over time as they deliver energy savings for you.

Hopefully, your system will run smoothly for the remainder of our Texas summer. Because we still have a few more months of being,” so darn hot the hens are laying boiled eggs.” as my grandmother always said.

[Heggie Coulter lives in Orangefield and is a teacher for the Orangefield school district]