Tips for getting the most out of AC units without breaking the bank on the hottest days

WILLMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Extreme heat has hit communities across the country, including Cape Fear, forcing air conditioning units to work overtime.

Heating and air conditioning technicians are in high demand, and with temperatures reaching near triple digits, some may resort to doing the job themselves.

Brian Ellerson is the owner of Wilmington Heating and Air Conditioning advises against it.

“With electricity, if you don’t know what you’re touching even though you think you know what colors the wires are supposed to be, it can be dangerous,” he said.

Some may think it is enough to turn off the power to the device.

“Sometimes when the power goes out, sometimes there’s more than one circuit,” he said.

Which can result in a trip to the hospital or even death, according to Ellerson.

“The refrigerant, obviously, if you don’t have the tools and the proper protection, you can hurt yourself with that too,” he said.

Melissa Lovitt owns an apartment building struggling with air conditioning issues.

“I was trying to control my air conditioner, so we went upstairs, and then the air handler turned off,” she said.

Just when Lovitt thought it couldn’t get any worse, another problem.

“Then he (AC tech.) informed me that my ground floor was getting ready to go out,” she said.

There are also other issues that home and building owners, as well as HVAC business owners, have encountered.

“Backorders, backlogs and Freon prices have skyrocketed,” Lovitt said. “So it’s been extremely difficult for everything and everyone.”

According to Ellerson, there are ways to get the most out of your device without breaking the bank on the hottest days.

“You need it to run as efficiently as possible, it’s best not to set the temperature too high in the morning and expect it to catch up a lot,” he said.

Keeping air filters clean may seem simple, but according to Ellerson, most don’t.

“There are a lot of calls we get all the time, the main problem is that their air filters haven’t been changed for a long time,” he said.

Finally, hire a professional for routine preventative maintenance in the spring and fall, but don’t wait until peak season.

COVID is partly to blame for out-of-stock parts, labor, manufacturing and shipping have only exacerbated the problem, according to Ellerson.