Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Now For a Long Story You Probably Aren't Interested to Read....

We had a new air conditioning system put in a few months ago. You may remember me whining about mentioning it back then. We bought a top of the line system, and according to all the research and testimonials we read, we were expecting cool temperatures inside and significantly reduced power bills.

You can imagine how confused I was when I was running it at 72 degrees and having the kids’ side of the house be cold, while right at the stairs and beyond to the living room and my room there was a serious temperature change and it went from arctic to desert. I kept bumping it down to 72 thinking surely it would cool the house, it was a new, better system, after all. I was becoming quite unhappy with the new A/C, thinking that at least with the old one it was cool throughout the house and I wasn’t sweating in the afternoon.

And, you can imagine my shock dismay surprise when I opened our first electric bill since installing the new system and seeing, not a reduced bill, but a bill that had more than doubled. Yes, you read that right. Doubled. We are not made of money in the Sweet Tea With Lemon household. I immediately got on the phone to my husband and wailed. We called the power company, who sent someone out to re-read our meter and then informed us that the reading was, indeed, accurate and that it was now spinning even faster and using even more wattage than when they had initially read it. We called the guy who installed the new system. This is someone we decided to trust with our very expensive purchase on the recommendation of a friend and on his coming in significantly lower in the cost estimate than our A/C maintenance company did in their estimate.

Well, when we called him, he was out of town, meaning we had to wait another week for him to come and try to find the problem, during which time we bumped up the temperature at which we were running the A/C hoping to put a slow-down to the relentless turning of the wattage meter, knowing that by the time I had received the bill we were already a week or two into the next billing cycle and racking up an astronomical bill for that month, too.

So, Mr. A/C man came out, tried to explain about how we should be able to run this fancy new system at higher temperatures and be cooler than we were at lower temps with the old system because of the way it dealt with humidity (??) and, were we aware that we had been having record temperatures and no A/C could realistically be expected to keep a house at 72 degrees in this heat. How come my in-laws run theirs at 72 degrees all the time and they don’t have $400+(!!!) power bills ever and they only live right over the bridge from us? Couldn’t answer that one. Must be your cathedral ceilings in the living room. Right. Then he checked the power output at the source, declared that he couldn’t see any significantly alarming power output from the A/C unit and that maybe something else in the house was doing it. Right. Nothing else had changed but the A/C. Umm, if we want to set it at 72, it should not double the power bill from a system that had been failing and not running efficiently at all.

Oh, yeah, when he installed the new system, he did not have the thermostat that goes with it, so he put on one that would run it okay until he could install the proper one. When he came out that evening, he said he had the thermostat, but not time to put it on right then, he’d be back the next week. He never came back. When we asked if that could be the problem, we were assured that it wasn’t.

Guess what? We ran the air at 74 for the next billing cycle, and the bill came down a little, but it was still a lot higher than we paid this time last year. We’ve called Mr. A/C man several times, still no thermostat in sight, still hasn’t come into the house to see how not cool it has been during all these record hot days of summer. Then, yesterday, I got a call from our maintenance company following up on whatever happened with the quote they gave us back in March, and is everything going okay? I explained what we’d been up to, and a technician came out yesterday evening to evaluate the system. Turns out that the man who installed it apparently does NOT know how to install this particular system, and that the thermostat he put on there does not allow the different parts to communicate, so the brand new swanky system has been going a little haywire, not able to communicate with itself. He got me a quote for what it would cost to rewire and properly install this system and put the proper controller thermostat on. It wasn’t cheap.

The work is finished. I can feel cool air blowing all over the house. In fact, it is blowing just as cool and strong in my bedroom as it is in Boo’s. And all this time Mr. A/C man has been saying that my room is so much hotter because of the ductwork and how it has to travel through the attic across the house. Guess he was wrong, huh? Sigh.

Thanks for letting me vent my little tale of woe. In the grand scheme of things, I know this is not really a huge thing. I know this. I also know I am thanking God that in His providence He allowed such a thing to happen while Drew was on active duty and making a little extra income and we could afford this little jaunt into the world of A/C incompetence. Though we had other plans for that extra cash, and we’ll have to reevaluate the budget a little now, I’m very thankful it was there for this little escapade. God has richly blessed us, and I am grateful.

Lesson learned, go with the known company – it may cost more up front, but you’re probably going to pay the difference either way. I’m really hoping this solves the issue and the power bill recovers, because we certainly cannot afford to have that big of a hit each month.

Another lesson learned, if you think something isn't right, don't second guess and limp along, get it checked out. I never felt like the A/C was working right, but I wasted the summer thinking maybe I was just expecting too much, so we didn't have another company come in and check it out until we'd gone through most of the summer. We could have had this fixed a couple of months ago if we had not been so willing to wait on the man who didn't do it right the first time.

Another reminder, do the job right the first time if you want a good reputation. You’d better believe we won’t be recommending Mr. A/C man to any of our friends. And we live in a small town. Several people have told me that Mr. A/C man should be responsible for our high power bills since his people did not do the job properly, and that's probably true, but, realistically, I don't think we'd get anywhere with that. Besides, even with all the headache, we're still going to come out having paid a little less than if we'd gone with the first quoted price, but it has been a hot summer. I’m hoping Drew will be calling him to let him know that his installers did not do the job properly though, otherwise, the next customers might not be as willing to chalk it up to caveat emptor, which is what we’re going to choose to do.

1 comment:

Mrs. H said...

Yikes! So sorry to hear about everything! Glad you are now sitting cool as you blog. :-)