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AC and silk questions

April 26th, 2009 at 09:00 pm

First, and biggest issue. I've always had problems with this house's central AC. Basically, it doesn't work, other than to sap out a lot of money in electric bill while trying to pretend to work.

The summer heat just arrived, and as I sit here, practically naked (try not to gag Big Grin) with a fan running and yet still sweating, I am seriously considering what to do next.

First options is to get an HVAC guy out and inspect my unit. How much does it cost for someone to come look at and repair the central AC? Is it even worth it since I don't even use most of the house?

The second option is, and this is the one I am leaning towards, does anyone have any experience with "portable" air conditioners? It's basically a window AC, except it sits in the room with a hose running out to the window. The Homeowner's association doesn't allow window AC, but they're willing to let something like a portable AC squeak by because it doesn't stick out.

The only problem is the upfront cost. The unit I am realistically looking at is $500. There are cheaper, but I've read scathing reviews about how poorly those ones are built, and that they will not last.

The other thing is my electric bill. In the summer months, they are literally FIVE TIMES higher than the winter months. (Well, to be exact, my winter electric bill is around $20-30, and my summer electric bill is around $70 to $120, but normally hits $100.) Is that normal for you guys? If not, it could translate to as much as $300 I am losing due to the defunct central AC. It would also well-justify the cost of a portable unit....

Oh, and before you mention it, yes, I've done all the self-repair tips I can find online. Still no dice. I don't know, what do you think?

Since the first question is so long, I'll keep the second one super short. Basically, I've got olive oil stain on a silk shirt. Although it's considered blasphemous, I tried to wash it out with the washing machine, but still no luck. Am I stuck having to dry clean it? Will that actually get the stain out? Is it expensive to do that, or should I just never wear silk again?

16 Responses to “AC and silk questions”

  1. M E 2 Says:



    My summer electric bill is NEVER 5 times what my winter electric bill is. Heck, it's not even double. Yikes!

    But, keep in my mind between the huge trees surrounding my home combined with the fact that I am on a slab, my house stays pretty cool. A/C is only ran when it is really hot and/or humid. It is not run 24/7 for days/weeks/months on end. Ever.

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    I added some numbers to help give it perspective. This is central AC, so it's actually trying to cool an entire single family dwelling, and again, I don't know if that's normal or not.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    Our bill doubles in summer. It just depends. Our regular bill is $50 and summer is more like $100. Thing is, $50 for the AC is not necessarily bad. On the flip side we have people home 24/7 and we get a lot of 100 degree weather. I assume you would only run it nights and weekends? Then again, our old AC in our tiny condo cost as much to run nights/weekends and never worked very well. Thankfully we rarely needed it - why we didn't bother getting it looked at.

    I honestly think it would be worth it to have a repair guy come out. A service call should run $100-$200. It could really be something simple. I'd also ask what the cost is to set up multiple zones. We have a large house and we use the whole thing but we only run the downstairs AC during the day and the upstairs one just before bed. (Before the kids came along the downstairs "zone" was just enough to cool the downstairs and our bedroom - even better). I would assume central AC is so much more efficient and cooler, honestly. If it were me I would invest in that. Though it depends what the diagnosis is, of course!

  4. Broken Arrow Says:

    Yeah, the AC is turned on only when I come back from work and all day and night on weekends. Which reminds me that I need to take a look at having an electronic thermostat again.

    Anyways, I just talked to a HVAC guy at work here, and he said he would charge me $80 (friend price) to come out and take a look at it. I thought about it some more since I wrote this entry, and decided that no matter what I do, I still need to get the central AC working so... I'm going to let him work on it. And anyway, his price is good enough that I don't think I should pass it up....

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Don't you live in a humid subtropical climate? If you want to compare bills, compare with folks at work maybe. That said, our summer electric bill does happen to be about 5 times our winter bill, or $150 vs $30. I live in a humid continental climate, small brick house with no insulation, but home all day, so the AC runs 24/7.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    That sounds like a good deal.

    I had thought about it and wanted to add that don't just compare bill totals to bill totals. Utilities tend to charge higher electric rates in summer. So check the actual usage in summer vs. winter.

    & I did mean that central air *can* be more efficient even if you are just using one room in the house. Our AC system is phenomenal. I am sure you got that, but wanted to be clear.

    (BTW - if it needs replacing or anything, there are some good tax credits for 2009 - for energy efficient appliances, etc.)

  7. zetta Says:

    We had put off having our AC serviced for several years, then our neighbor happened to have someone by to service her unit, and he offered to waive the charge for travel time. (With the breeze we really only need it 2-3 weeks per summer.) All it needed was a recharge of the coolant, and the whole cost was only about $120. Worth doing in my opinion.

  8. gamecock43 Says:

    Is it 100% silk or a blend? I dont know anything about what you should do, but am curious as to why you own a silk shirt? I picture greasy guys in Miami as the type to wear silk shirts- and I didn't think you were that type. A silk blend- a different story though.

  9. Broken Arrow Says:

    Hehehe, funny gamecock, but I swear these are not the greasy guy shirts (I don't think). It's like one of only two nice short-sleeved shirts I have. They are 100% silk though. Lemme see if I can find a picture. Ok, it looks like this except it's a darker, duller blue. But see? Nothing crazy I don't think.

    As for the AC situation, I thought about it some more and decided... to do both. Big Grin I can use just the room one when I am by myself, and central AC when I have the kids. Seriously, I spend most of my time at home in my bedroom (which is set up more like a bachelor apartment studio than a dedicated bedroom), and I just don't want to cool the living room, kitchen, dining area, two more bedrooms, and two more bathrooms when nobody is there!

    Maybe it's not the best idea I've ever came up with, but I'm going to try it anyways. I just set up the room AC earlier, and it's working so far!

  10. gamecock43 Says:

    Ok that's fine. Just don't walk around with the top 8 buttons unbuttoned and you will not look like a sleeze ball.

  11. Petunia Says:

    Have you tried googling (how do you spell that?) to figure out what you might do about the stain? Can't help you on the AC, although it sounds like you've already got that figured out. It doesn't get too hot here in the summer and we have no AC.

  12. Broken Arrow Says:

    Thanks for the tip gamecock! So, only seven buttons unbuttoned. Check! Big Grin

    Yes Petunia, and unfortunately, all of them are saying that it should be dry cleaned, with some more saying that limited washing is OK, although it still didn't work in my case. I just don't want to have to pay for dry cleaning constantly. I guess I have no choice if I want to salvage this shirt.

  13. kimiko Says:

    ahem...pic please? Can't try not to gag without pic Smile
    We don't have AC so our summer bill is always much less than the winter. I believe it's around 1/3 to 1/4 of the winter bill.

  14. baselle Says:

    This is from "How to Clean Practically Anything" from Consumer Reports, under silk:

    "Most care labels recommend dry cleaning only because some silk dyes will dissolve in water, causing 'bleeding' and color transfer. Some unlined silk items can be hand washed in lukewarm water using dishwashing liquid or other mild soap or machine washed using a gentle cycle."

    "If the care label recommends hand washing, test for colorfastness by washing a small, inconspicious area first. Knead the item gently in clear water to rinse, hang, and let air dry."

    "Store silk in a dark place because sunlight can weaken the fabric and fade the color. Do not try to spot-clean stains which also can weaken the fabric and cause permanent marks. Never use bleach on silk."

    They also helpfully mention that "Since perfume, strong deodorant, and perspiration can damage silk fibers, always clean your silk garments after wearing them."

    I think that olive oil is a stain that is going to require dry cleaning, just because. Hopefully you air dried it. Heat always sets stains.

    Now we talk about tactics. Woolite, my friend, Woolite. At least if you confided in a lady friend that you tried Woolite on your silk shirt, she would pat your hand and commiserate. If you said dishwashing liquid, she would laugh ... and not in a way that a young man would want to hear.

  15. Aleta Says:

    I agree with the others about asking around in your area about the costs associated with your bill.

    We have a central air and heating but have considered buying a small portable unit that you described especially during times where power is lost or more importantly after a hurricane. I think it would be ideal for a bedroom and could run from a generator. We're going to look into as well.

    The only cleaning advice I can give you about oil stains is from my FIL. I pour lighter fluid on the stained area and pour baby powder to cover it. Allow the baby powder to soak up the lighter fluid and the stain. It always works for me but I'm not sure about it on a silk fabric. You could always try it on an area that isn't visible to see what happens. I know that it works for all other fabrics.

  16. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow, lighterfluid and baby powder? Sounds insane, but I love it! I'll give it a shot.

    Oh, the HVAC guy came earlier today, and he recharged the freon fluids. He said that was the problem, but most likely I also have leak somewhere. He said that the best thing to do is to replace the whole unit, and I'm looking at around $3000 for it! If I don't and it continues to leak, he says I probably have a good year maybe two before the fluids run low again....

    I trust him though, because he's actually a buddy from work, and I know he wouldn't steer me wrong. That's really unfortunately, but it's also way out of my price range to replace, especially since this is my aunt's house. I'll have to relay the message....

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