The Ductwork

It is not necessary to become a certified HVAC technician, but a homeowner ought to have an understanding of the air-conditioning system that cools his or her home during warm months. The ductwork is not something out in the open to be seen, yet it plays a very important role in keeping the house at a comfortable temperature.

The Basic Operation

Air is drawn into the air conditioning system by fans and within the Air Handling Unit (AHU) the air is cooled. The air is then circulated back into the living space through the ducts, and returned to the air-conditioning unit by means of the ducts. It is the circulation that can cause some of the difficulties commonly experienced with this part of the HVAC system.

Problems in the Ductwork

It is possible that dirt and dust can accumulate in the ductwork and these create obstacles to the airflow. They can require the system to generate more energy to get the air circulating, and that becomes a cost to the homeowner. Perhaps more serious would be leaks in the ductwork that allows cool air to escape. It can also cause warm air from the outside to enter into the circulation system. Either can generate additional cost for the homeowner.

The problems are not dangerous in and of themselves but they do create a situation where the air-conditioning is not performing as well as it can. This can be a problem in the summer when the air-conditioning is in continual use. Problems with the ductwork will generate greater utility bills and less efficiency. A certified HVAC technician is best qualified to take care of cleaning the ductwork. This person has the proper tools and skill set necessary to do a good job. An annual inspection of the ductwork can also identify problems that can be fixed before they are serious, saving a homeowner a significant amount of money in the long run.

Take Advantage of a Tune up Opportunity

 

 Holiday shopping takes a lot of attention away from other projects, but a homeowner should take the opportunity during the winter to schedule a tune-up for the air-conditioning unit in the house. It a practical idea because the air conditioner isn’t used that often in the winter and the AC check up probably will not be that expensive. This is a way of doing some maintenance on equipment that will be extremely important when the temperature start to climb.

 

Getting Ready For Summer

 

Air conditioners get a lot of use in the summer and the tune-up repairs done in the winter helps keep the air-conditioning running efficiently when the weather becomes unbearably hot. The HVAC technician will do simple things like calibrate the thermostat, check on the condenser, be sure that the condenser fan motors and blades are in good working order, and see to it the evaporator coil is clean. Actual cleaning is one of the biggest benefits of an AC check up in the winter. The grime and dust that can harm efficiency are swept away and equipment is fine tuned for the high demand season. The HVAC professional can also spot situations where the equipment is starting to wear down and need replacement. It is far better to replace worn out belts and wires now than have to do it in the summer.

 

Curbing Expenses

 

An air-conditioning unit that has had a tune-up is one that does not require as much energy to generate the cooling air. The obstacles to efficiency have been removed, and the systems don’t have to put as much effort into maintaining the desired temperature. That translates into lower energy costs and smaller utility bills. It is another reason why taking a break from the holiday shopping to schedule an AC check up is really a great idea.

Going Over the Checkpoints

This is the best time to take a look at the air-conditioning unit of the house. There won’t be any need for air-conditioning until the weather gets hot, and a little tune-up work can guarantee the best results from the air conditioner. Rather than just looking into the machinery see if anything looks unusual, a decent check checklist can guide the homeowner in doing this winter maintenance on the unit.

Things to Do

ENERGY STAR is a program administered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they have developed what can be considered a bucket list for air-conditioning maintenance. Among the things that should be included in a routine inspection include:

  • Checking the condensate drain so there is no water backup occurring;
  • Take a look at the blower components to be sure that they are cleaned. This is important because if the regular flow of air is blocked it can result in a serious reduction in air-conditioning; efficiency;
  • Inspect the thermostat settings to be sure that what is registered is reflected in the actual temperature of the room;
  • Inspect the refrigerant and check for leaks.

Drawing the Line

There should be a dividing point in the checklist. A homeowner must appreciate that he or she does not have all of the expertise needed to do a complete job. There are some assignments like patching a refrigerant leak that ought to be left to professionals. Those people have the proper equipment and stores knowledge to best deal with major tune up work. There’s no reason to risk a mistake.

Maintenance that is governed by a list makes certain that the essential components are inspected and necessary adjustments or repair completed. Air conditioning that is at peak performance will not only provide the cooling air that makes house comfortable, but will also do it using as little energy as possible and keeping utility bills under reasonable control.

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.

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.

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.