Maintaining Efficient Ducts

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The US Department of Energy estimates that the typical duct system of a house will lose anywhere from 25 to 40% of either heating or cooling energy. Those statistics are more than just sobering. Many Phoenix, Arizona homeowners will invest a great deal of money in energy-efficient HVAC systems, but if the duct system is not working properly, any savings brought on by the energy efficiency is negated.

Suspect Areas

The energy loss primarily comes from leaks in the duct system. Small perforations or openings can cause warm or cool air to escape from the ducts. The leaks are in effect heating or cooling the atmosphere, and this also means that the central furnace has to expend even more energy to keep rooms at the desired temperature. The areas where there is potential for such problems include the attic or crawlspaces. The ducts ought to be inspected in those locations and the right type of sealant must be used to seal up any openings. Once that is done the ducts should be wrapped in sturdy insulation to prevent excess heat in the summer or winter cold.

Possible Health Hazard

While the level of risk may not be life-threatening, leaky ducts present an opportunity for lower pressure within the system and that can pull gases from the furnace. This includes carbon monoxide, which could circulate in the atmospheric especially around the furnace. There’s also the chance of radon gas leaking into the atmosphere through defective ducts. These possible health hazards are enough to warrant the ducts be inspected in an annual checkup.

If the owner does not feel confident inspecting the ducts or if he or she does not have the proper equipment, Air Care Phoenix HVAC contractor can provide the service necessary. These companies have trained technicians who inspect the ductwork thoroughly and will do maintenance. Investments in energy-efficient HVAC equipment is a good idea but the proper conditions for less use of energy need to be maintained. Routine checkups on the duct system will prevent leaks from creating higher utility bills.

Contact our office a certified technician will be available 480-238-2273.

 

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.

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.

HVAC Improvements for House Selling

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There comes a time when a person has to consider selling the house. It may be due to a job transfer or simply moving to a bigger home that causes the decision to be made. Getting the house ready for sale may take some time and a few home improvements will add to the value of property. Work on the HVAC systems, including the air-conditioning and heat pumps, can raise the selling price.

Repair/Renovation

Too many homeowners will make unnecessary renovations to try to improve the value of their house. Some of these are very cosmetic and a prospective homebuyer could care less about them. Working on the HVAC system is different. Seeing to it that the ducts have been properly sealed and that the heat pump is in good working order can be beneficial. Prospective buyers want to be assured that the systems in good working order, so scheduling an inspection and maintenance a few weeks before the viewing will help. A homeowner may even want to keep a copy of the inspection to show to people interested in the house.

Installing New HVAC

Energy-efficient air-conditioning units and heat pumps are definite value adders to the selling price. A homeowner may want to consider installation of either and if that is the strategy, it would be a smart idea to check with a tax accountant on what possible breaks are available. Depending on the terms and conditions, a homeowner could get tax rebates and incentives for installing ENERGY STAR approved HVAC machinery. The HVAC system may also qualify as a capital improvement to the home and that is tax-deductible. It is important, however, to speak with a knowledgeable tax person before making the investment in a new HVAC system.

A well running HVAC system adds value for no other reason than it keeps utility bills low. That can add a few thousand dollars on to the final selling price of the house. A homeowner should do some planning and get a few cost estimates before doing anything major, but even fine-tuning the HVAC system is going to mean extra cash when the house is finally sold.

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.

Copper Theft is on the rise!

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Tips to Protection You from Being a Victim of Copper Theft

The increase in copper prices has caused a major issue for both Home and Business owners. Copper prices have been on the rise for the past few years which has caused an increase in copper theft. The easiest target for the copper thief is an outdoor air conditioning system.  May Home and Business owners may be surprised by how quickly copper thieves can dismantle an outdoor unit and steal the copper.  The Home and Business owners are faced paying the insurance deductible when copper theft occurs. There are a few things that homeowners and commercial buildings can do to reduce their risk of being victimized by copper thieves.

Ideas on how to protect the unit from Copper Theft

We suggests that AZ residential and commercial air conditioning customers install fencing to the surrounding area.  If fencing in not an option then we recommend putting outdoor lighting around their unit.  Motion sensor lights will deter most Thieves as they are less likely to target a home or business that is well lit to avoid getting caught red handed. Phoenix A/C Contractor also recommends placing a cage around the air conditioning unit to prevent copper theft.  The easiest way to put a stop to copper theft is to keep the air conditioning unit out of view.

Learn More Information

The Copper thieves make $20 to $75 for the copper they take into their local scrap metal dealers, but homeowners and commercial businesses face large and expensive repair bills.   Keep in mind that most times the thief is successful in getting the copper regardless of the challenge or obstacles they have to go through.  There has been two Copper Theft laws in Arizona  passed  Bill 2262 Department of Public Safety will register scrap metal dealers and Bill 2396 which requires the thieves that are caught to be charged based on the amount of damage not off the low value of the scrap metal.  If you see suspicious activity call your local law enforcement to investigate the situation.

How A Freon Leak Damages Your A/C System

 

How A Freon Leak Damages Your A/C System

      We all know a Freon leak is a problem, however do we fully understand how big of a problem it is and why?  Being informed is what will keep you, your family and business cool through the extreme heat of the summer and your budget balanced.

A Little Bit about Freon

     Freon or the refrigerant is a colorless, odorless, nonflammable, noncorrosive gas or liquid that runs through your Air Conditioning System pipes and compressor; it is the stuff that keeps you cool.  Without this gas or liquid you do not have an air conditioner, just a blower unit circulating air.

What clues do I have to know my Freon needs to be checked?

      There are many ways to know you may have a Freon leak, although you will not smell it, probably will not see it and it is not causing any danger by being in the air. The first clue is when your air is not blowing as cold as you are accustomed to or worse yet, if it is not even cold air anymore and it is warm.  Another big clue is if your air conditioning unit, compressor or coils freeze.  If you notice even the slightest change in the temperature of your air or any amount of freezing contact a technician immediately.

Damage Caused by A Freon Leak

      Beyond the obvious that you and your space is not being cooled off when there is a Freon leak and the Freon level is low, the leak can be so subtle that it is not obvious at first but the long term damage has already started.  Any loss of pressure from Freon and the compressor is instantly under additional strain, reducing its life expectancy and causing unnecessary wear and tear on the entire air conditioning system.  Starting at the very first pound of pressure lost; even though the air still feels cool it is a sufficient reduction of temperature to cause your Air Conditioning System to need to run longer to maintain the same temperature.  As Freon loss increases, the run time of your system also increases just to maintain the same room temperature.  This in turn raises the cost of cooling your space incrementally in direct correlation to the loss of pressure.  As your Air Conditioning System runs longer periods of time without a break, everything is being worked twice as hard and the entire system is wearing out at more than twice the rate it normally would if it had sufficient Freon and refrigerant.

Get Your Freon Level Checked routinely

      The best cure is prevention, have a routine service of your Air Conditioning System to include Pressure testing and leak testing for Freon.  Get it fixed if there is a leak and always call immediately if you suspect a leak.  The cost of an inspection is far less than the cost of a compressor, a whole unit and even one month’s bill of inefficient cooling of your home or office.

 

         

What Is A Surge Protector?

We hear people talk about Surge Protectors, but do we know what they are?  More importantly what does a Surge Protector have to do with our Air Conditioning Systems and is it something you need to know about to stay cool this summer?

What Is Surge?

Surge is high amplitude, short duration electrical fluctuation which can cause harm to electric, electromechanical and electronic equipment, basically anything connected to the electrical box in your home.  Surge can be caused by lightning and storms, power outages, large appliances kicking on and other natural phenomena.

A Surge Protector Is

A box or unit designed to provide consistent power flow to anything electrical including your Air Conditioning System  even in the event of incoming surges, bounce surges from in rush current, outdoor moisture conduction from local lightening, or transient surges which are most common caused by other major appliances and electrical devices in our homes.

Different Types Of Surge Protection for A/C Systems

There are whole house surge protectors, which cover everything electrical in general.  However, this does not protect everything sufficiently and especially in regards to the one primary electrical unit placed outside in the elements, separate from the home itself, your Air Conditioning System.  There are specific Surge Protectors that can be installed at the Air Conditioner to protect the largest electrical unit at your home, well worth considering if staying cool in the hot summers in the valley of the sun is on your list of things that are important.

Why A Surge Protector just for Your Air Conditioning System?

The Air Conditioning Unit is outside in the elements it is more prone to and has an increased probability of being affected by storms.  In addition the A/C Unit pulls such a large pull as it starts up it is more likely to not only cause surges but more likely to be adversely affected by surges.   Surge Protectors installed specifically for the Air Conditioning System protects it from electrical surges caused by lightening, outages, hurricanes and any other natural events.

Insurance/Assurance, Are You Protected? 

Do you have a whole home surge protection?  If not, you are leaving every electrical, electromagnetic and electronic device in your home at risk of being destroyed by surge.  Do you have an Air conditioner specific Surge Protector?  If not, your greatest asset during the summer months at risk of being put out of commission and leaving you and your family and business sweating and running elsewhere to be safe from the sweltering heat of the Arizona Desert.

Enjoying the Assurance Plan

Insurance only protects you in the event something went wrong and you need to have it fixed.  Assurance is the protection that prevents anything going wrong in the first place.  Invest in surge protection and invest in peace of mind, the best plan you can have in regards to your Air Conditioning Units in Phoenix in the valley of the sun.