Did you recently notice a spike in your energy bills, even though you have not been using your air conditioner any differently? If you have a smart thermostat, maybe it has begun alerting you to a marked increase in energy consumption. It's not a good idea to ignore this. A sudden increase in energy use usually means there is something wrong with your air conditioner. Here are some of the top possibilities.
A Clogged Air Filter
This is the first problem to consider since it is one you can fix on your own. If the air filter is too full of dirt, your AC will have to work harder to propel air through it, which will increase energy consumption. Pull your filter out, and see what it looks like. If it is absolutely clogged with dirt and dust, then changing it will likely save a ton of energy.
A Refrigerant Leak
If changing the air filter does not do the trick, you might have a refrigerant leak. When some refrigerant leaks out of the coil, the AC will often keep cooling your home, at least for a little while. However, it will consume a lot more energy to do so.
Usually, if you have a refrigerant leak, you will see some green or pink fluid on the ground under your AC unit. It might only be a few drops! If you see any fluid, dip some paper towel or white paper into it in order to see the color more clearly.
An HVAC contractor can repair the leak and add more refrigerant to the system. This is not a repair you should ever attempt on your own.
Worn or Torn Fan Belt
The fan associated with your air conditioner has a motor, and like most motors, this one is driven by a belt. That belt can fray or tear, which causes the motor to consume more energy as it spins. This is due to the increase in friction that comes with a torn fan belt. Replacing the blower belt is not a difficult repair for an HVAC contractor to make. It should only take them a few hours, at most.
If your air conditioner has been using a lot more energy than normal, that means something is wrong. Try changing the filter, and if that does not work, contact an HVAC company. Most problems that cause high energy bills can be fixed. For more information on air conditioning repair, contact a professional near you.