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AC units kick into overdrive with incoming heatwave, increasing utility bills

AC maintenance to keep cool amid heatwave
AC maintenance to keep cool amid heatwave 02:36

With the first heatwave of the season settling into Southern California, people's air conditioning units are kicking into overdrive and some homeowners getting their checked out before temperatures climb even higher. 

As Sophia Lopez's daughter and friend splashed around in the pool, she said her mind was on other matters. 

"I am thinking about the utility bill, how high it's going to be," Lopez said. 

Even though it's not the official start of summer, many people are already turning up their AC to keep cool, but that comes at a price. 

"One month I had around $900 of utility. Yeah, it was bad. I was like, 'Oh my god, this is scary,'" Lopez said. 

Jacob Garcia with Comfort Time Heating and Cooling said customers aren't always happy when they have to call them. 

"We are kind of like the boogeyman, you know. We come by and we are just there to give bad news," he said. 

A field technician, Garcia said the sizzling heat is ramping up business, not just for routine checks, like at Lopez's house, but from customers in a bit of a bind. 

"They and they turn on their thermostat all at the same time and they find out that it is broken, right when you need it," he said. 

As triple-digit temperatures pop up in the forecast, cooling centers, like one in Redlands, are starting to open up. 

"It has to be at least 100 degrees that day, and we open up the centers for the public to come in and we offer water and a place to cool off," Shari Haynes, with the City of Redlands, told CBSLA. 

For her part, Lopez said she's still trying to figure out the right balance between staying cool and keeping costs down. 

"I have two units. Which one am I going to turn on and which one am I going to turn off? It's kind of scary to tell you the truth," she said. 

Garcia, the field technician, said 80% of the problems with AC units can be prevented by yearly maintenance and that it's something people shouldn't put off. 

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