Did you know that running your thermostat up and down more than 5 degrees can actually cost you more money than leaving it at one setting?

The energy it takes to recover is greater than the savings.

Why is a programmable thermostat running the temperature up and down different? Answer: A Honeywell programmable thermostat has software built in called “Adaptive Intelligent Recovery” (AIR) AIR is patented software and only Honeywell has it. what AIR does is senses the rise and fall of the indoor temp vs time. If it is determined that the recovery time is too great it will limit the offset to a manageable setting to minimize the recovery cost. On moderate days it will allow the full offset temp to be reached so you save money on those days. AIR learns how your house and thermostat responds to changes in temperature and plots the time vs temp curve in its memory over a 3-day period then responds intelligently to that curve and continually makes minor adjustments as needed to maximize savings. Smart Huh?

Don’t buy that cheap off-brand programmable thermostat from the home improvement store as without AIR it’s no different that you running the temp up and down yourself.

Mark Baker
(President and Licensed Master Mechanic)
“The PHD of HVAC”


Lower the temperature settings to save money in Winter.

Each degree of temperature can represent up to 9 percent savings in heating costs.


1. Use a programmable thermostat:
Program your thermostat to match your schedule. To maximize savings without sacrificing comfort, program the thermostat to lower the heat by 8°F or more when you’re away from home or asleep, and save about $180 per year.

2. Seal leaks & insulate:
Seal air leaks using caulk, spray foam or weather stripping. Insulate the attic to block winter heat loss and summer heat again. This can help you save $200 per year.

3. Install a door sweep:
Door sweeps – or weather stops for garage doors – seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold, preventing cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.

4. Use a fireplace damper:
Fireplace dampers eliminate drafts by sealing you fireplace shut when you’re not using it. Consider using a fireplace “balloon” to make the seal even tighter.

5. Replace screens with storm windows:
During the winter months, replace your screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier from the cold outside air.

• Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system failure. Schedule preseason checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure your system is operating at peak performance.
• Check your system’s air filter every month. If it’s dirty, change it. Change it at least every 3 months.
• If your system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient ENERGY STAR certified equipment.

For more information visit: energystar.gov/heatcool

Fire ants can cause your air conditioner or heat pump to fail!

That’s right it happens frequently in South Carolina. The first time I saw fire ants stop an air conditioner was about 30 years ago. I could not figure out why fire ants would crawl into the high voltage electrical controls and pile up in the contactor until the unit stopped working. I contacted the Clemson Exchange service and asked the question “Why would fire ants pile into and electrical device and stop it from working?” The answer I got was interesting:

“Fire ants are very aggressive and territorial. There are devices inside the unit’s cabinet that buzz and/or hum at 60 Hz frequency that to a fire ant mimic a dying or injured insect. The ants go in to investigate what they think is food then become electrocuted by high voltage. When the ants are killed they emit a hormone that causes the other ants to go into attack mode so they continue to pile in until the device stops working.”

If you see an ant hill getting started near your air conditioner, treat it right away with ant block from your local hardware store.

Personally, I use Amdro. It works!

Putting a screen on top of your air conditioner to keep leaves out may be a bad idea!

Air conditioning units are designed to have maximum air flow through the cooling fan. Although putting a screen on top of this fan to keep leaves out seems like a good idea, you may actually be reducing the performance of your air conditioner. Screens such as window screens have tiny holes to keep out mosquitoes and will restrict air flow.

Remember that old plastic garbage can lid you threw away because you no longer have a trash can to fit it? That is actually is the best thing to cover your air conditioner fan with in the winter time. A plastic garbage can lid left covering the fan will keep the leaves out all winter long. If you forget to remove it in the spring, the first time you cut on your A/C it will simply be blown off and you’re A/C will work just fine. (Don’t add a weight to the garbage can lid to hold it down.)

Covering your A/C with a tarp or other type of cover such as an outdoor grill cover in the Winter may also be a bad idea. Most air conditioner manufacturers design air conditioners to withstand the weather and moisture outdoors without damage to the unit. Covering the unit however may trap moisture inside the unit and cause it to rust prematurely or cause damage to the electronic circuitry inside. Unless the manufacturer provided a cover (I have not seen one yet that did) I would not advise covering the unit.

You can give your A/C a temporary boost by spraying water into the outdoor coils using a garden hose with a hand held sprayer attached.

Use only a fine mist (Do not spray water into the fan or on the fan motor.) This will drop the coil temperature and simulate a cooler day from the air conditioner’s stand point. The air conditioner will cool better for about 30 minutes to 1-hour provided it is in good condition and well maintained. This is just a temporary boost to help a normally working A/C during the heat of the day. This is not a fix for a unit that is in need of maintenance or repair.

Air conditioners that are not “Optimized” are not going to cool well in this summer heat wave. The coils must be spotlessly clean, the filters must be clean and the Freon levels must be perfect. Even a little dirt on the coils will reduce performance. Attic insulation must also be checked. We recommend a minimum of R-30 in the attic.

Most air conditioners are designed for a 90 degree day. When outdoor temperatures excead 90 degrees, performance will be reduced. When it is time to replace your air conditioner, you should ask your air conditioner contractor how much it extra would it cost to design your new system for a 100 degree day if you would like added performance.

Did you know that turning your thermostat down more than 5 degrees could actually be costing you money?

This is because the cost of recovery is greater in severe weather than the cost to maintain a set temperature. It is best to set your thermostat back no more than 5 degrees during away periods then set it back to your normal setting when you are at home. Honeywell has done extensive research on this and has developed a patented feature into their programmable thermostats called “adaptive intelligent recovery” (AIR) This software enhancement monitors your temp rise and fall during the day and allows you to set your temp at a greater differential to save energy. If the temp climb or fall is gradual enough it will allow a greater differential on those days. On days where the temp climb or fall is faster, the thermostat detects this and will only allow a 5 degree drift so the set point can be reached without wasting energy on those days.