Your Place: A clean air conditioner is an efficient one, too

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I was thinking about this just the other day, because itís been warm enough recently in Philadelphia to turn on the air conditioning.

And itís only May, not August.

Because of this, I naturally was thinking about maintaining the indoor evaporator coil attached to my furnace. But what about the outdoor air compressor/condenser that can attract construction dust, dryer lint, bugs, seeds, leaves or grass clippings, which then get pulled into the air intake.

Permatron Corp. says U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research shows that just 0.042 of an inch of dirt on an air-conditioning coil can reduce its efficiency by 21 percent.

That reduced efficiency is costly. A clean air-conditioning unit costs an average of $518 a year, says Permatron.

If the unit is 40 percent clogged, the costs can increase to an average of $725.

You can keep the compressor clean with an inexpensive wraparound air filter, which can be simply trimmed to the size of the air conditioner for a neat, attractive appearance.

Install the filter on a clean compressor; remove monthly and rinse with water to clean.

Coincidentally, Permatron makes one of these filters. Iím not recommending the product, but if you want to research it, start at

Safety first: May is National Electrical Safety Month, so Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is spearheading its annual effort to raise awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety.

This yearís campaign features the launch of the second edition of its National Electrical Safety Month publication, "Electrical Safety Illustrated."

The issue is titled "That Old House, This New Update" and tells readers about the common hazards posed by Americaís aging housing stock and a variety of updates that can improve any homeís functionality, efficiency and safety.

Campaign resources will be available for free on ESFIís newly redeveloped website, which boasts a cleaner interface to allow for a more user-friendly experience.