Optimizing the HVAC

 

The HVAC system in a house consumes a considerable amount of energy and is the primary expense in any utility bill. A homeowner can make better use of energy and keep utility costs under control by doing what is necessary to optimize the HVAC system. Before a person cringes at potential costs, he or she should look at the ways of optimizing the HVAC that really aren’t that expensive.

 

Outside the System

 

Not a very tactic used to improve the air conditioning service or heating service in the house requires major overhauls to the HVAC system. Some efficiencies can actually be done outside of the equipment. Ceiling fans have a reputation for reducing cooling costs dramatically. When this is combined with thermostats thing to be program, the energy use and costs drop like a stone. Drafts are a problem that occur in the wintertime. Cold air comes into the house and that causes more energy to be expended to increase heat. Double pane windows can help keep the cold air out and insulation placed around window frames and doorframes also keep the whistling winds from invading the living space. Space heaters and under floor heating mats will allow for necessary heat without taxing the HVAC system. The best thing about all the recommendations is that they really are not that expensive. In fact, some of them are strategies recommended by green energy advocates who want to reduce carbon footprints.

 

Lowering the Cost

 

The cost-effectiveness of these ideas should be felt almost immediately. To gauge the full impact homeowner needs to check how much the energy use was the month prior to initiating the changes, and the months immediately following. There should be a noticeable decrease in kilowatt hours (kwH) or British thermal units (BTUs). All of these complement the HVAC system, allowing it to provide only what is needed in air cooling or heating.

Taking Care of the Thermostat

 

The thermostat is the temperature control mechanism of the HVAC system. It sees to it that the living space is adequately cooled or heated, and the thermostat has to run accurately. A variance between settings, where the thermostat is set at one temperature but actually maintains a higher level of heat, can result in substantially increased energy bills. This is a primary reason why attention should be given to the maintenance of the thermostat.

 

Review the Calibration

 

Good calibration assures that the proper temperature is being maintained. If there is a variation between the reading on the thermometer and the reading on the thermostat, there may be some difficulty with the calibration. This will mean that the thermostat will have to be replaced. A homeowner has to be careful about the wiring of the thermostat, and be certain that the replacement thermostat has all the necessary wires attached to it. The new thermostat by the way must also have the same little rating as the one it is replacing. Checking to see if the thermostat is able to turn on and turn off the heating system is a final check to be sure that it is running properly.

 

Increase the Energy Efficiency

 

A good thermostat can make energy efficiency easier and maintain lower utility bills. Once a thermostat has to be replaced, a programmable model should be the new one. These models of thermostats can be programmed to lower the heating temperature in winter at times when no one is in the house, and then automatically increase the heat when the family is ordinarily at home. This little variation assures that only the heat that is necessary at a given time is in the house. It furthermore helps keep utility costs down because less energy is being expended. Maintenance of the thermostat doesn’t take a considerable amount of time nor any advanced expertise. It requires staying alert to any sudden variations in temperature in which the house is actually warmer than the temperature registered.

Getting Assistance with HVAC Improvements

Consumers don’t always make improvements to the home HVAC system because they are environmentalists. It does happen in older homes of the HVAC system has seen the best years and can no longer supply sufficient AC service or heater service. The decision to make changes in the house is done with cost in mind. HVAC systems and their components are durable products and they do not come cheap. Fortunately for homeowners, there is financial assistance available in various places.

Utility Rebates

A telephone call to the local public utility can determine whether or not rebates are available. It is certainly in the best interests of that company to encourage people to make their homes more energy efficient. Financial assistance in the form of rebates can be in the hundreds of dollars but the homeowner must be willing to purchase those HVAC products that have certain standards as determined by the utility. That shouldn’t be a problem because whatever requirements are set by the public utility are directly related to reducing energy use and lowering utility bills at the same time.

Government Help

This is going to require a little homework on the part of the consumer. Some of the federal tax credit incentives have expired, but there are still some possibilities left. The state and local level may have tax incentives and rebates available for specified HVAC products. It does require investigation on the part of the homeowner but keep in mind the end result is going to be extremely worthwhile. Shaving a couple hundred dollars off of the final bill for any HVAC improvement that upgrades AC service or heating service is sensible. All it really takes is to find out whether or not one person has in mind qualifies.

Cost is always a factor but it can be reduced through rebates and tax incentives. Rather than risk having the old HVAC system break down the wrong time, a homeowner may want to take a look at what HVAC improvements can be done and what type of financial help is available.

Planning the AC Purchase

Summer is not that far away and it is better to get ready for the purchase of a new air-conditioning unit now then to wait until Memorial Day. A smart shopper wants to make the best possible purchase and often the cheapest product on the shelf is not the best quality. There are some things the individual can think about as he or she gets ready to buy a new air conditioner.

Quality Ratings Matter

The quality of AC service in air-conditioning is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). Both measure the British Thermal Unit (BTU) to the watt hours of energy consumed, but the SEER measures the cooling output during a cooling season. The industry sets standards for SEER and EER and the minimum for each is 13 and a range of 8.0 – 9.8 respectively. A buyer should know that these ratings are the floor and that higher rating for either category shows greater energy efficiency. That is important when one considers the long term cost of air conditioning. The units with the lower rating will cost more in monthly utility bills then ones that are rated higher.

Consider the Energy STAR Label

The air-conditioning products that have the ENERGY STAR label are set to a very high standard. For air-conditioning units, the SEER must be at 14.5 or higher and the EER can be no less than 12 (NB. These are for split systems. Single package equipment have slightly lower requirements but well above the industry standard). These have expectations mean that ENERGY STAR labeled products provide more energy-efficient AC service than other commercial brands. They may cost a little bit more, but these air-conditioning units will generate long-term savings in lower utility bills. Over the life of their use, these will consequently be a better bargain for shopper.

Understanding the Terminology

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HVAC equipment has its own terminology which sometimes confuses a consumer. Anyone looking to buy air-conditioning units Phoenix or heat pumps gets a little confused and don’t always understand the importance of certain acronyms. Knowing what the special terms mean can help in making a buying decision.

SEER, EER and HSPF

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is used to measure the efficiency of an air conditioner unit. It is the measure of the cooling output that happens during a cooling season and is divided by the total electrical energy output of the same time. In the United States that would be the ratio of the British thermal unit (BTU) to the watt hours of energy which are consumed. Plainly spoken, this ratio gives a picture of the amount of energy required to create a certain level of cooling output. The lowest SEER permitted commercially is 13, and the higher the rating will mean the more efficient energy-wise the air-conditioning unit happens to be.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is the ratio of BTU to watt hours of energy consumed. Like the SEER, the efficiency of an air conditioner is greater if the rating is higher. The standard for air conditioner units sold United States is a range of 8.0-9.8 or more.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the energy efficiency over one heating season of heat pumps. It is the ratio of BTU to watt hours during the given period. The industry standard is that heat pumps must have a rating of no less than 6.8.

ENERGY STAR Standards

The efficiency of an ENERGY STAR product can be better understood given these industry standards mentioned above.

For an air source heat pump to be used for a split system, ENERGY STAR requires the following: SEER, no less than 14.5; EER, no less than12; HSPF, no less than 8.2 ratings.

Central air conditioners to be used for split systems: SEER, no less than14.5; EER, no less than a 12 rating.

Single package equipment have slightly less rating requirements, but it is obvious that ENERGY STAR insists on a higher than normal ratings as far as efficiency is concerned. This means that while the product may be a bit more expensive, the energy efficiency is at the top end of the spectrum.

How to Know When to Replace an AC Unit!

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Is the System Working Well?

 

In addition to an AC unit being operational, it should also be working well. It should cool evenly and make the house comfortable. The home should not be humid and there should be a noticeable difference in the air temperature as a result of running the unit. A poorly working air conditioner in Mesa is a sign that major repairs are needed, so unless the unit is new enough to still be under warranty, it might be time to consider a completely new one.

 

What to Expect in a Replacement

 

New air conditioning units are expensive. Energy efficient models with the best ratings will cost more than $3000. However, repairing and maintaining an older unit, and paying the energy cost for it each month, can add up to that quickly. If a homeowner has plans to replace a furnace, replacing the air conditioner at the same time is the most efficient option. The systems usually share a blower motor, so using an inefficient motor with a new high-efficient air conditioner can negate any energy savings that might be available with an upgrade.

Downgrading to a smaller unit might also be an option, especially if other steps are take to upgrade the efficiency of the unit. For instance, if a homeowner takes the time to thoroughly insulate the home and clean the duct system, a less powerful machine might work just as well as the older, bigger unit.

Replacing an air conditioner is a huge expense for a homeowner, but it is one that will eventually come down the pike. If the home is located in a warm climate in which air conditioning is used year round, replacing the machine is likely to come sooner than later.

Is it time to replace an old conditioner? What type of replacement is the best option? Contact Air Care Cooling & Heating LLC to arrange an assessment and help with determining when to replace the AC and what type of replacement to choose.

Have You Scheduled Your Routine Tune-Up?

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Schedule the Appointment during Other Activities

 

A/C tune-ups usually do not take a long time. Most technicians can have routine maintenance completed in just a couple of hours. If there is a problem the service might take a bit longer, but rarely are there problems with air conditioners that take more than a day to fix. If homeowners are able to plan a day away from their home, they can spend the time in a comfortably air conditioned public space while service is performed. Service could also be performed while a homeowner is away at work, enjoying the cool comfort of the office air conditioning. As long as the air conditioning service company is trustworthy and there is a way to arrange entrance and exit from the home, this is often the best solution for everyone.

 

Homeowners that must be at home during the repairs can also benefit from a schedule. Determine how many times per year the air conditioning needs a tune up. For most homes, a once a year AC check up is enough, but for those running their air conditioning year-round, tuning it up at least twice a year is a good idea.

 

Determining When to Schedule during the Year

 

Most people find the best time to schedule AC maintenance is at the change of a season. This allows a break of about six months between appointments and locks in a convenient time when homeowners can remember to put the service appointment on their schedule. Many homeowners schedule their AC tune up as part of their spring and fall cleanup, but those living in a temperate climate year-round might not have that much cleaning up to do with the change of the seasons. Still, this is a good system that creates a set habit of scheduling air conditioning maintenance.

The Benefits Of Being A Energy Star Partner?

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Consumers shopping for HVAC appliances such as heat pumps and air-conditioning units will often hear of contractors who are ENERGY STAR partners. This appears to be a term associated with green energy and environmentalism. It’s a reasonable question to ask what allows a company to become an ENERGY STAR partner. It is definitely more than just paying a membership fee.

Stringent Standards

ENERGY STAR doesn’t mince words when the program states it is an advocate for energy efficiency. Those who would partner with ENERGY STAR must sign onto a partnership agreement that has very specific activities. An ENERGY STAR partner must keep track of energy performance and develop a plan that is in collaboration with the overall ENERGY STAR strategy for better performance. The program also has a training program for builders and credentialing requirements for HVAC contractors. These are not simple training courses, and the company has to commit to train their staff and educating the public about energy efficiency.

The Benefits

For the contractors and builders there is a very obvious advantage to being associated with the ENERGY STAR program. Consumers trust the label and the certification. Anyone who is allowed to use the ENERGY STAR logo knows that it will draw potential customers and clients directly to them. The benefit to the homeowner is substantial. Working with ENERGY STAR approved builders and contractors, a person can feel confident that any air-conditioning units or heat pump is an appliance that is very energy efficient. This saves a lot of money over time and also helps create a healthier environment within the house. For those people who are concerned about the environment, working with an ENERGY STAR partner is a way of seeing to it that as small carbon footprint as possible is left on the local ecology. Less use of carbon in a reduction in greenhouse gas are important reasons to consider working with an ENERGY STAR partner for building, and HVAC appliances.

Various Heat Pumps to Consider

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People who are thinking of doing some home improvements want to get as much out of their investment as possible. A reason why homeowners are willing to invest in heat pumps is the energy efficiency and low utility bills that will result. There is more than one type of heat pump on the market, and these will provide both heat and cooling service to a house.

The Basics of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a viable alternative to traditional furnace and air conditioning service. Essentially, they use electricity and heat pumps will transfer heat from one area to another depending on the time of the year. The energy efficiency comes from the fact heat pumps move heat and do not generate it. It means less fossil fuel is used to create needed warm or cool air.

The Types of Heat Pumps

Air  source heat pump is widely used and this transfers heat from the outside to the inside of the residence. This type of heat pump is an exceptionally good dehumidifier, and can provide excellent air-conditioning service in warm months. It also can cut the use of electricity by over a third of the normal use. Because these types do not work very well in very cold climates, a secondary source of heat will have to be available.

Geothermal heat pumps will transfer heat from the ground or any water source that is close by. These have low operating costs and can be used in cold climates where an air – source heat pump is not very effective. The absorption heat pump is a new model and will use heat as the energy source. This particular heat pump is fairly flexible in that any number of heat sources can be used.

The homeowner has the decision to make of which heat pump to be used. Before making a purchase that individual should take in consideration the climate, the subsoil of the property, and whether or not a backup source of heat is needed. Heat pumps provide both good heat and air conditioning service, and will do this using less energy than ordinary fossil fuel burning systems.

 

Summer….It’s just around the corner


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The holiday season is over and all the Christmas boxes and wrapping paper have been thrown in the trash. In case people aren’t noticing, the days are gradually getting longer minute by minute. It also should come as no surprise as the weeks go by how the outdoor starts to get a little bit warmer. It’s all gradual but summer is going to happen sooner than anyone thinks. The air conditioner has not been called on to do much in the past few weeks but that will change. Now is the time to get ready for June with an air conditioning checkup.

 

The Main Components

A homeowner might not have the skills to do the inspection, but this person should at least have an understanding of what the HVAC technician is talking about at the time of an air conditioning checkup. Modern air conditioning units are situated outside of the house and pump liquid refrigerant into what is known as the air – handling unit (AHU) inside the building. The AHU generates the cooling air and will force it through the ducts into the living spaces of the house. The ducts themselves are made ordinarily of sheet metal and moved the cooling air into the living spaces. Ducts by the way also return the air to the AHU. Thanks are the openings through which the cool air enters into the room.

 

Possible Problems That Need To Be Investigated

Refrigerant leaks are the most important concern because the liquid chemicals can be an environmental danger. Ducts have to be sealed properly to avoid air leaks that either emit cool air into the atmosphere, or permit warmer outside air to come uncooled into the ventilation system. Both vents and ducts have to be free of dust accumulations or mold so as to provide air freely and without having mold spores get into the atmosphere. The air conditioning inspection does not have to be expensive, but the system ought to be looked at to make sure that there is nothing that prevents top efficiency of a service so often used. An air conditioning checkup done now is a good idea because it is not as expensive as it will be in May, when everyone is trying to get their air conditioner ready.