Airconditioner is in working order, but not doing it's job.

themehmehMarch 16, 2010

I live in an upstairs Texas apartment and the insulation is awful. we are also in the worst possible place for the sunlight to radiate through the windows like a greenhouse.

The air conditioner is mediocre in many ways.

1. The air conditioner can't control the temperature in any weather over 80. once it's reaching the 80's outside it starts to struggle. you can run it full blast all day and you're still sweating.

2. In the summer if i leave the air running at a very conservative, uncomfortable temperature. (usually programmed at 80 degrees-which leaves the house at 85-90) my electric bill more than doubles. from 100 to 220. from winter to summer. In the summer i try to turn the air off when i can, mostly at night. because it's usually just constantly running with no relief to the heat anyway.

3. Not quite to do with the air conditioner: The insulation is awful. the guest bedroom which has two walls in direct sunlight is the worst. It has no hope of cooling at all. with fans running and an air conditioner the room has at times reached the 100's. Blackout curtains help a little but the temp is still too high and i really hate sitting in the dark all day.

Do i have any options? any right to a higher quality air conditioner?

lets say they find some way to fix the one i have, do i still have any legal rights to fix the energy use?

p.s. The filters have been replaced regularly, the coils have been cleaned.

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Sounds like an apartment I used to live in. A few things, $200 a month during the summer on the electric bill isn't too bad, I used to pay $400 a month in the summer for my 3rd floor unit that wouldn't get below 90 degrees in the summer. And most electric bills in Texas are going to double in the summer. It's just a fact of life here. Also, standard air conditioners are not really capable of cooling spaces to more than 20 degrees below outside temperature. To get below that, you would need an oversize unit or two units which I doubt your apartments would be willing to spring to put in.

With that said, have the apartment manager get a tech out to check the freon level. Get the freon recharged. See if you can get the UV film for your windows. That can sometimes help a bit. Try heat reflecting curtains. Use CFL's for your light fixtures that are on for long periods of time (you'd be surprised how much heat regular light bulbs can put out), and if all else fails, sit a bucket of ice in front of a floor fan. Oh, you might also see about getting a portable air conditioner. I'm not entirely sure how much they cost, I know my parents got one at Sam's Club for like $100 (not sure if it was on sale or not) and that little thing works like a charm. Might help keep whatever room you happen to be in cooler.

As far as legal rights go, check your lease. Unless the ac unit is inoperable, I doubt there's much you can do and honestly, I'm not sure it would be worth the time, cost or hassle. Move when your lease is up, find a nice ground floor unit with shade trees outside.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 5:17PM
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I have the same problem--west facing windows and an air conditioner that's older than me. I finally called the rental office and asked if there was any chance I could get a new one and they said I probably could but to call and remind them when it's closer to summer. (Because air conditioners are on sale then perhaps?) Have you called to just find out the possibility that they'd replace it? I live farther north so my electricity bill goes from $30 in winter to about $130 in the summer and that feels unacceptable to me! I couldn't handle paying what you pay!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 7:27PM
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Do i have any options? any right to a higher quality air conditioner?
lets say they find some way to fix the one i have, do i still have any legal rights to fix the energy use?

OK, don't take offense at what I'm about to say. Up north here laws say it's heat that we must provide, AC is not mentioned in such a manner and is considered more of a perk than a necessity for survival.

However, in areas of the country where bitter cold is not a problem, but suffocating heat is, that might not be the case. (You'd have to google your state's LL/tenant laws to find out.)

If filters and coils are cleaned, is there a chance you have an older unit that has to have freon replaced ever couple seasons? That's not a costly repair at all. If it gets repaired yet you still find your energy costs are prohibitive, I'm not sure that you have any rights to pursue that. It would involve adding more insulation and I've not heard of a tenant ever having the right to alter the structure of a building in order to save on utility costs. Doesn't mean it's never happened anywhere, just nothing I've ever run across.

On the conservative side you're paying an extra $100 for what, probably 3 months of summer, to get the place cooled? So in one season that's an extra $300. For about $200 you can get a small window unit for the guest room only and if you can secure it in there without doing damage (it's possible), then you're OK and simply take it with you when you leave or sell it. Those small AC units actually do a pretty good job of cooling off hard to cool areas and don't run non-stop. (I've seen floor model portable ACs that have a hose that exhausts out the window. They are a bit more pricey, but discount/overstock stores sometimes have them much less expensive than average retail. I can't vouch for their efficiency tho, you might want to read up on that.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:19AM
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