June 09, 2014
San Diegans, start your home air conditioners! In southern California, most everyone waits until it gets hot to start their AC, all at once sometime in July. And this causes big problems that can be costly for some surprised homeowners.
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) provides energy service to 3.3 million consumers through 1.3 million electric meters and more than 800,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange County. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles (10,600 square kilometers). That’s a lot of houses, and demand for electricity surges during the summer. Add to that, the closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant, and SDG&E has quite a load to bear. When everyone starts the air conditioner at the same time, it overloads the SDG&E system causing a surge.
This surge blows out the capacitors on homeowners’ air conditioning units, meaning they will be without AC (right when they need it most). When this happens, HVAC companies get flooded with calls and have to start prioritizing responses due to age, location and other factors. This means you, your family, and pets could be stuck without AC for hours, or in severe cases even days. Aside from the discomfort and possible danger of being without air conditioning, there’s also the cost of fixing the capacitor. In worst case, the blown capacitor causes more severe damage to the system.
Save Yourselves!And help others too...you can protect yourself and your home by simply starting your AC early. Run your system about 30-45 minutes; that’s about how long it should take to “satisfy” (reach the temperature you set on the thermostat). Set the thermostat about 5 degrees cooler than the ambient (natural) temperature. The time it takes to satisfy may vary due to the time of day, window placement and dressings, your home’s insulation. You don't have to keep in on until the heat rolls in, just get 'er cranked up and make sure everything is running smoothly BEFORE a heat wave catches us off guard. April is a good time to think about doing this.
Annual HVAC maintenance is recommended (and required in some warranties) to prolong the life of your system and save money by increasing to efficiency. Book tune-ups pre-season to save money and avoid longer wait times for service.