Below is a list of questions we hear a lot here at AAC Services. If something isn’t covered here that you’re curious about, or you’d like more information about a certain topic, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!
Should I replace both my outdoor condensing unit (which includes the compressor) and the indoor coil on my central air conditioning system at the same time?
- Caulk, weather-strip, and insulate (especially the attic) to close air gaps.
- Plan hot work (washing and drying clothes, baking, cooking) for cooler morning and evening hours.
- Pull drapes and shades over windows facing the sun.
- Keep windows and doors closed when the air conditioning is on.
- Use a thermostat control to automatically increase or decrease home temperatures for daytime/nighttime differences to save money.
- Set thermostat control at highest comfortable level– each degree raised reduces energy consumption by 3-4 percent.
- Clean or replace air filters regularly.
- With a new system, consider a service contract for a specified period of time.
- Keep the outside unit free of leaves or other airflow obstructions.
- Have the air conditioning unit cleaned each spring.
What should I do in advance to make sure that my air conditioning system will work efficiently this summer?
Which is better, letting a central cooling system wear out before replacing it, or replacing it at some point before it wears out?
The three most important factors to evaluate when you are purchasing a new furnace are: Quality, Efficiency and Comfort Features. We have placed a brief explanation here:
When you buy a new car, the quality of it helps determine how well it will perform and for how long. A furnace is really no different. Purchasing a brand name that has a reputation for quality and reliability can save you headaches and extra expenses down the road.
A furnace’s efficiency rating, or AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), tells you how efficiently the furnace uses fuel. In general, the higher the efficiency, the less fuel the furnace will use to heat your home. This means lower operating costs for you.
In 1992, the government established a minimum AFUE rating of 78% for furnaces installed in homes. In contrast, many furnaces manufactured before 1992 had AFUE ratings as low as 60%.
Mid-efficiency furnaces, also known as non-condensing or induced draft furnaces, offer efficiencies from 78% to about 80%. High-efficiency furnaces, also called condensing or sealed combustion furnaces, offer AFUE ratings from 90% to about 96.6%.
Usually, the higher the efficiency, the more expensive the furnace. If you live in a cold climate, you will probably recover the additional cost for a high-efficiency furnace in a few short years through lower utility bills. We can use heating data from our area to help you determine approximately how long it will take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Naturally, after the payback period, you continue to save money on your energy bills for the life of the system.
Some mid-efficiency and high-efficiency furnaces offer additional features that provide greater comfort, as well as additional energy savings. Furnaces with two-speed can run on low speed up to 90% of the time, so they operate more quietly than single-speed furnaces.
On lower speeds, the furnaces will run for a longer time when it runs. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings – only one or two degrees instead of the four degree swings common with single speed furnaces. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent your cold feet created by air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even heat throughout your home.
Variable-capacity furnaces provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance. In addition to the benefits of two-speed furnaces, they offer “smart” motors that can monitor your home’s comfort needs. They automatically adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the most efficient heating or cooling. They offer added electrical efficiency as well: the “smart” fan motors on today’s variable capacity furnaces use less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. They operate so efficiently that they can actually increase the efficiency rating of your central air conditioning system. It offers you added energy savings when you use continuous fan operation in any season.
I heard the refrigerant used in my air conditioner will no longer be available, is this true? Should I be concerned about being able to get this refrigerant?
R-22 will continue to be manufactured until 2020, and
re-manufactured R-22 will be available at least ten years after that. Since most air conditioning systems have an average life of 15-20 years this refrigerant will easily be available for any existing system using R-22.
R-410a; sometimes referred to as PURON, is the replacement refrigerant for R-22. PURON is beginning to be used by some manufacturers today, and will be used by all manufacturers by 2010. This is, unless a better alternative refrigerant is developed before that time. We will keep our site updated with the most current Governmental and Industrial standards in regards to this subject.
Quality, Efficiency and Comfort Features. We have placed a brief explanation here:
When you purchase a new car, the quality of it helps determine how well it will perform and for how long. An air conditioner or heat pump is really no different. Purchasing a brand name that has a reputation for quality and reliability can save you headaches and extra expenses down the road.
Efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps are indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which tells you how efficiently the unit uses electricity. Heat pumps also have heating efficiency ratings, indicated as HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). In general, the higher the SEER or HSPF rating, the less electricity the unit will use to cool or heat your home.
In 1992, the Government established minimum efficiency standards for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER and 6.8 HSFP. Most air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured before 1992 had SEER ratings below 7.0 and HSPF ratings below 5.0. Air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured today have SEER ratings that range from 10.0 to about 17. Heat pumps are available with HSPF ratings from about 6.8 to 10.0.
Usually, the higher the efficiency the more expensive the unit. If you live in warm and/or humid climate, you will probably recover the additional cost of a high-efficiency air conditioner or heat pump in a few short years through lower utility bills. We can use cooling data from our area to help you determine approximately how long it will take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Naturally, after the payback period, you will continue to save money on your energy bills for the life of the system.
Some air conditioners and heat pumps offer additional features that provide greater comfort, as well as additional energy savings. Two-speed units can run on low speed – using 50% of the energy up to 80% of the time; so they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed models. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings – only two or three degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed units. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even cooling throughout your home.
If you purchase a multi-speed or variable-capacity furnace or fan coil with your unit, you will enhance both the comfort and the efficiency of your air conditioning or heat pump system even further.
The efficiency of gas furnaces are measured in what is called an AFUE Rating (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). Every new furnace has an AFUE rating that has been provided for you, the consumer, to use as a gauge of comparison when it come time to buy a new furnace. The higher this AFUE rating, the lower your utility costs will be. For example, a furnace with a 94% AFUE rating will lose only 6% of the heat produced up the chimney. In other words, for every dollars worth of fuel purchased you lose only 6 cents worth outside. The rest is turned into usable heat for your home. Older furnaces may lose as much as 40% of their heat up the chimney. The savings realized by replacing your furnace can be impressive!
We would be happy to visit you and provide you with information that will help you decide if a new furnace will help reduce your heating bills. We can help to determine a payback period for the new furnace, as well. Contact us for additional information or for a free in home evaluation.
When you’re frustrated with an equipment break-down, it can be tempting to find the least expensive “quick-fix” to get on with your life in relative comfort. That “quick-fix” may be the least expensive now, but it may not give you the most value – or cost you the least – in the long run.
Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It’s almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again…and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
There is also an on-going cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you have recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.
Even six year old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards. As are most furnaces built before 1980. You could save up to 60% on your energy bills with new high-efficiency equipment. That’s why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Looking at the Big Picture
When one component of your system breaks down unexpectedly, it’s easy to just focus on repairing or replacing that component. But each part of your system works with the others to boost efficiency and reliability, so it helps to keep the “Big Picture” in mind.
Replacing your old furnace with a new higher-efficiency model, but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place, for example, won’t allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the furnace has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new furnace, but don’t add a humidifier, the air will remain very dry. Dry air feels cooler (as is saps the moisture from your skin), forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature in order to be more comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and air conditioner) replaced at the same time.
The next time you are faced with a repair on that old furnace or cooling unit, we would be happy to discuss alternatives with you, and show you how a new system may actually be cheaper in the long haul than repairing that old unit! Contact us for additional information or a free home analysis.
As we heat our homes, the air has a tendency to dry out. This dry air can damage the woodwork and furniture you have in your home, as well as sap the moisture from your skin. Dry air even makes you feel cooler, because your body senses heat as a combination of temperature and humidity. Adding humidity to offset this drying process will improve your comfort, as well as preserve the woodwork in your home. As an added benefit, you may actually be able to lower your thermostat a couple of degrees. You will not only feel warmer, but you may lower your heating bill! We even have humidifiers for those homes with hot water heat.
Adding this much needed moisture will make your home a healthier and more comfortable place to spend your time. Contact us and we would be happy to discuss your choices and provide you with pricing for adding a humidifier to your home.
It’s a fact: The trapped air we breathe in our homes can be loaded with dust, pollen, plant spores, and other pollutant particles. In many cases, it’s worse than the air outside. This is especially important if you are one of the many millions of Americans who suffer from some sort of allergy. Because we spend a great deal of our time in our homes, indoor air quality is a real concern!
Standard, disposable air filters, which are very commonly used are very limited in their ability to remove small particles of dust and other debris. They are so limited that they only remove about 15% of the pollutant particles in our homes. While this style filter is better than none at all, more efficient choices are available.
There are two styles of air cleaners: Electronic Air Cleaners and Media Style Air Cleaners. We would be happy to discuss the differences and advantages of these two air cleaners with you and provide you with pricing on their installation. Contact us for details and pricing.