Last summer, the weather was unusually cool and rainy. There was no need to run the air conditioner at all. I was thrilled to avoid the higher electric bills. We were comfortable with opening the windows and running box fans. I figured that since the air conditioner experienced no wear and tear, there was no need to schedule professional maintenance. I not only saved money on operating the air conditioner, but also on the upkeep. This summer, however, the weather warmed up in early April. Temperatures climbed up into the eighties, and the humidity was unbearable. There was no choice but to turn on the central cooling system and run it just about non stop. Unfortunately, my air conditioner wasn’t functioning at its best. It struggled to cool the house and handle the humidity. I noticed an excessive amount of airborne dust, and the house smelled a bit musty. The air conditioner was definitely running much more than usual, and seemed to be a bit louder. It finally quit working altogether at the end of June. When I called in a local HVAC contractor for repair, he mentioned that there was a great deal of dust and contaminants accumulated within the system. He said that even though the air conditioner had not been started up at all, it still should have received professional cleaning. Apparently, while HVAC equipment sits idle, dust and other pollutants penetrate the inner workings. The gradually build up on vital components causes big problems. Blocked airflow, friction, longer running times, and excessive energy use are some of the consequences. The repair was super expensive, and I have learned my lesson. I will not longer neglect the annual maintenance of my HVAC equipment.