Energy Savings

Five Questions to Ask, Before It Hits 90°F

Be prepared for your first Central Air Conditioning stress test

By: | July 11, 2017

Did you know on average, central Minnesota has 11 days of 90° or greater temperatures each year?
When temps hit the upper 70s, your AC probably started doing its thing to maintain comfort and maybe pull some moisture out of your residence or workplace. But hotter temps can strain the cooling performance of your AC.

So before the next heat wave, consider the health of your Central Air Conditioning. Here are five questions to contemplate each year before things really heat up.

#1 How old is your Central Air Conditioning?

You probably know when your house was built. But it can be hard to remember when major components and appliances were replaced. It’s surprising how AC units from the 1980s seem to keep chugging along.

The National Association of Home Builders will tell you the average AC unit has a 10-15 year lifespan, that longer range is dependent on regular maintenance.

Here’s another factor to consider. Most any Central Air Conditioning unit built before 2010 uses R-22 Freon refrigerant which, is expensive to replace if depleted because of leaks. New EPA regulations are phasing out the use R-22 because of its ozone-threatening gases. Since 2010, new R410 Puron refrigerant has been mandated. It’s more environmentally responsible. Plus it is better at absorbing and releasing heat, which helps your system run more efficiently, saving energy use and money.

#2 How leaky is your home?

Surprising to many homeowners, the Department of Energy reports that insulation can settle over time, leaving areas exposed. Enough small leaks and under insulated spots throughout your home can be like leaving a window open, all year long. You could call it the open window effect.

In fact, research from the 2015 North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) tells us up to 90% of existing U.S. single-family homes are under insulated. Most of us only think about home insulation issues when the temperature plummets in the winter. However, that hot summer air is also trying to find a way into your home each summer, which will affect your comfort.

#3 How comfortable are you?

If your Central Air Conditioning is under performing, you are probably missing out on the whole-home comfort you should be enjoying.

Also remember, your furnace distributes that cool AC air. So your furnace fan should be checked and your filter replaced at least twice a year. If you have pets or allergies, replace that filter every 60 days.

#4 What is your summer looking like?

The demands you put on your home can vary throughout the year. For many of us, summer is the time for hosting out-of-town guests, friends or relatives. To make your home inviting for these events, you need to have a comfortable place to gather. So if your home is struggling before summer guests, imagine what all those extra bodies will do.

#5 Do you like to save money?

Qualifying Xcel Energy customers can receive rebates ranging from up to $450 to up to $1,150 on eligible central air conditioners. All the details for your state’s rebate options are at
And don’t forget, rebates are just the start of the savings because a newer central AC unit may save you up to 30% in energy costs, year-to-year.

Other benefits of having a new Central Air Conditioner include:
• Quieter operations. Newer, high-tech sound absorbing materials in modern AC systems make for much lower operating noise levels compared to older models, helping assure your AC is felt, yet not intrusive.
• No more surprises. As more efficient AC systems minimize on-and-off cycling, they typically require less extreme repairs, when properly maintained.
• Peace of mind. Enjoy your busy summer knowing you can have a cool respite from the heat – especially when guests are part of the plan!

Got more questions? Visit our Central Air Resource Center, a learning center devoted to helping you better understand your air conditioning and make smart purchase decisions. Here you’ll find more details, a helpful installation video, a bid comparison checklist and more. It’s all here to help you be well-educated about Central AC.


A self-professed energy nerd, Paul loves to explore how technology trends are bringing convenience and surprising benefits to our lives.