Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Patience Pays Off

Last week, as part of our seasonal maintenance plan, an HVAC technician came out to check on the air conditioning. Usually, when this happens, it takes the guy a few minutes to check the system in the attic, a few minutes to check the system from the outside, and a few minutes to process the paperwork. In and out. This time, when I glanced out the window and saw the technician unfurling the hose in the backyard after he had already been here for an hour, I thought we were in for trouble. After another fifteen minutes, I decided to go outside to investigate.

“Taking it apart is easy. It’s putting it back together that’s the hard part,” he said without looking up from what he was doing. Oh goodness. He must be new at this. He was with us for a total of two hours – four times longer than the usual technician – and of course, I was starting to get annoyed. My whole morning was shot.

However, I had a pleasant surprise a couple of days later. I was cold. I knew I wasn't sick, so I checked the thermostat. It hadn’t been touched. We keep it set to 74 degrees – the absolute limit of my indoor heat tolerability. But, here I was, feeling a chill. Unbelievable.

The new guy is now my hero. He took the extra time to do something no other technician (or husband for that matter) had ever done before. Instead of just giving the filters a quick spray, he took the whole thing apart and rinsed the coils clean with the hose. The result was such efficiency of operation that I could comfortably move the thermostat up another couple of degrees. 

Doing this will decrease our energy usage and save us money - according to the North Carolina State Energy Office, up to 1-3% of total cooling costs per degree change. And if I can move it up another degree or two, Progress Energy estimates my savings to be up to 5% of my total cooling cost for every degree over 78 degrees. Just think of how much my impatience would have cost me this time. I should write that technician a thank you note.  

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