Cooling

Choosing Central Air Conditioning

19 Oct , 2014  

cooling

Over the last decade HVAC technology has increased tremendously, partially in response to the call for reduced greenhouse gases, but also in an attempt to keep utility bills lower. Contractors and consumers alike have paid a great bit of attention to high efficiency air conditioning and heating systems according to their SEER rating. SEER stands for season energy efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioning system is.

The question is, however, is a system with a higher SEER number better for your home? The answer is maybe. What is more important is matching the system to the size of your home. Systems that are inefficiently sized for the square footage of your home, whether too big or too small, will turn on and off too frequently, in the case of larger systems, or run all the time if the system isn’t large enough to accommodate the entire building square footage.

Today’s central air conditioning systems are sold with SEER ratings that range from 13 to 18 with the latter number designating a more energy efficient system. In addition, regulations going into effect in 2015 will base SEER ratings upon the climate on which you live, which will further confuse consumers.

A good rule of thumb is, the warmer and more humid your climate is the more likely you are to use a higher SEER air conditioning system in your home. In other words, if you use your air conditioner a lot, a high efficiency SEER unit is for you. For northern climates, the answer is less clear. Fortunately, Energy Star, which rates the efficiency of a wide variety of appliances, allows you to plug in SEER ratings of your chosen system along with local electric costs. Also check manufacturer ratings before choosing a system.

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Heating

Varying Types of Home Heating

19 Oct , 2014  

heating

The task of purchasing a home furnace can be challenging. This is because there are several different types available in the market which can be a cause of confusion to many customers. Although these appliances can be easily acquired from big box stores or via the internet, the trick lies in determining the most suitable type for the particular home in question.

The most important factor to consider when selecting a home furnace is the type of fuel source in use. Other equally important factors to keep in mind include efficiency level, size and price. In general, furnaces are normally powered by electricity, gas, oil. Homes can also be heated by  hydronic/radiant heat or even geothermal energy. It’s advisable to stick with the current fuel source to reduce installation costs.

Gas furnaces are quite popular in most homes in developed countries. Propane and natural gas are commonly used for warming households. Their functionality entails extracting heat from the used gases. Gas furnaces that have efficiency levels of more than 90% are often referred to as condensing furnaces. They cost approximately $3,000, which is three times the amount charged for non-condensing furnaces.

Oil furnaces, on the other hand, are less popular in the first world but are still used for domestic purposes. They are less efficient when compared to gas heaters. However, hi-tech improvements have been incorporated into these machines to increase efficiency ratings to more than 85%. The newer models start at $1,500, even though the exact price is usually dependent on the size.

Another cost-effective type is the electric furnace. It is very convenient owing to the fact that it converts electricity into needed heat via the HVAC system. The best part is that electric furnaces can also blow cool air, thus making them suitable for regulating all kinds of temperature. These furnaces are rather economical because their prices range from $500 to $1,000. In addition, the installation entailed is minimal.

The need for conserving the environment has risen to an all-time high. This is why many homes are now selecting greener options which includes furnaces fuelled by hydronic or geothermal energy. These furnaces are safe, comfortable and energy efficient. Not many companies have ventured into this territory, but some trusted names to look for include Rinnai and Firstco.

Consult a skilled technician before purchasing a home furnace. This way, it will be easier to make the best decision required for getting the most suitable machine. Installation should also be left to the professionals to eliminate any potential safety hazards from occurring later on.

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Air Quality,General Maintenance

Maintaining your HVAC Equipment

19 Oct , 2014  

general maintenance

To keep the home comfortable all year round, HVAC maintenance is important. There are some general HVAC maintenance strategies to implement on a regular basis. Some major repairs will require an HVAC specialist, but simple steps can keep a unit functional for years. There are several things the homeowner can do to ensure a long life of their unit.

The first line of defense is buying the best equipment possible and providing an ideal location for the system. Relying on a cheap air filter is the first step toward damaging an HVAC unit. Purchasing a high-efficiency air filter will prolong the life of the ventilation system. An air filter with pleats is preferable. Also, owners should always be mindful of any outside contaminants that could invade the unit. Routine checks for leaves, grass, or weeds should be standard practice. The unit should have a full 2 feet of clear space for proper functioning. A quick glance around the unit will help keep the HVAC functional.

In general, maintenance on a cooling system should be conducted at minimum, once a year. Conversely, maintenance for a heating system should also be conducted at least once a year. Both should be initiated before the specific season begins.

Once a month, the owner must service the refrigerant lines. In order to ensure these lines are functioning properly, owners should watch for some key warning signs. Check for ice build up which will indicate a fault in the insulation. Mold and condensation are also warning signs of improperly maintained refrigerant lines.

Changing seasons should trigger more routine maintenance. The air filter should be replaced every 90 days, at least. During the summer months, turn off water to the furnace humidifier. When the weather turns colder, turn the water back on and replace the filter for the humidifier at this time.

Once per year, an HVAC requires the following maintenance. Check the battery controlling the carbon monoxide detector and if needed, change it. Harsh weather conditions may cause the battery to drain more quickly than advertised. For that reason, check the battery life at least once a year. An outdoor AC unit must be on a firm and flat surface. Ensure that the ground has not shifted and no animals have dug into the ground. One last annual maintenance tip is to clean the AC condensate drain. Clean the drain using a mixture of bleach and water.

By following all these steps, an HVAC unit will have a long life requiring minimal professional maintenance. If the unit begins to function poorly, professional help may be a necessity. Also keep in mind that a professional should always be called for any job that an owner feels is too complicated or dangerous. Otherwise, these steps can help maintain a working system.

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