Programming Your Air Conditioning Thermostat

Causes Of Frozen AC Systems And Ways To Prevent This Problem

Posted by on 4:53 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Causes Of Frozen AC Systems And Ways To Prevent This Problem

If you suddenly experience problems with your central air conditioning system, your first instinct might be to go and look at the system to find out if you can see a problem. One of the most common problems people experience with AC systems is freezing of the evaporator coils. This can happen for several different reasons, but there are ways to prevent this and fix it. Here are several things you should understand about this particular problem. What Are Evaporator Coils? All central air conditioners have evaporator coils, which can be found inside the AC system. Typically, you must remove a door from the system in order to locate these coils. The purpose of these coils is to transfer heat out of your home. This occurs when air comes into your system to be cooled. The coolant in the system pulls the heat from this air and forces it outside, and this is possible through the process of expansion and compression of the gas found in the coolant. As long as all parts of the AC system are working well, your system should be able to perform this process over and over, which will keep your house cool. If something goes wrong anywhere in this process, you could have problems with your AC system, and finding frozen coils is one of the problems you can have. What Can Lead To Frozen Coils? There are several things that can lead to ice developing on the coils inside your system, but there are two main causes: Restriction in air flow – If the air filter in your system is really dirty, it will stop air from entering the system. Without air, the coils will freeze from the condensation produced during the process. Coolant leak – The other common cause of frozen coils involves a coolant leak. Your system needs a certain level of coolant at all times. If there is a leak, there will not be enough coolant. This can cause the coils to get too cold, because the coolant actually helps keep the coils warm. If your AC coils are frozen, it is most likely due to one of these causes. You can replace your furnace filter to see if this makes a difference, but you will also need to defrost your system. This will involve unplugging it and allowing all the ice to melt off. If you do these things and find ice on the coils again, you will need to contact an air conditioning contractor for help. What Can Be Done To Prevent And Fix This Problem? If you hire an AC contractor to fix the problem, he or she will most likely begin by checking the level of coolant in the system. If it is low, the contractor will most likely look for a leak and then fill the system back up. This will typically fix the problem if it was caused by a leak in the system. To prevent this from happening in the future, you should change your filter on a regular basis and hire a contractor to perform a tune-up on your system each year. A tune-up will include checking the coolant level, cleaning the system, and examining all parts of the system. If you do this yearly, you will be less likely to...

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3 Myths Regarding Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning

Posted by on 11:41 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Myths Regarding Energy-Efficient Air Conditioning

Switching to LED bulbs and switching off light fixtures can reduce your energy costs, but there are other ways to improve your home’s total energy efficiency. Considering an estimated 48 percent of a typical home’s energy usage goes to heating and air conditioning, focusing your efficiency efforts on this system is smart. As a homeowner, you may feel you are using your HVAC system efficiently. However, certain behaviors and tasks are not actually reducing your home’s energy usage. Using this guide on common myths associated with your air conditioning system, you will learn how to cool your home in an effective, energy-efficient manner. Myth: Installing an “Energy-Efficient” System Will Instantly Save Me Money Purchasing and installing an energy-efficient system is a great investment, but it can be a waste of money if the system is not sized correctly for your home. When shopping for a new heating and cooling system, you must focus on the system’s tonnage. Your system’s tonnage refers to its capacity to remove heat from inside your home within an hour. Without a proper tonnage, your air conditioning will struggle removing heat from your home, increasing energy costs. To determine the amount of tonnage needed for your home’s square footage, consider the following: One ton equals 12,000 BTUs of heat removed from the home each hour 25 BTUs are necessary to cool each square foot of your home If your home is 2000 square feet, you will need approximately 50,000 BTUs, which is offered by a 4-ton unit. If you choose a unit with a higher amount of tonnage, your system will run sporadically, turning off and on throughout the day. This will increase the amount of energy necessary to keep your home cool. If your “energy efficient” system is not sized accordingly, you will actually be using more energy to cool your home. Myth: Closing Vents in an Unused Room Will Reduce Energy Costs In many cases, you will have one or more rooms in your house that are not used on a daily basis. Cooling these rooms will seem wasteful, so you may close the vents in these rooms in an attempt to reduce energy usage. Your air conditioning system is designed to cool your entire home’s square footage, which includes each finished room of your home. By preventing the cooled air from entering these rooms through the vents, the system will cool the air ducts only. Closing off the vents in an unused room of your home will not decrease energy usage at all. Myth: Turning your Air Conditioning Off When Not Necessary Will Save Energy Turning off the air conditioning during the day while you are away from home for work is also common. While you may believe this is reducing your home’s total energy usage and saving you money, it is actually a wasteful behavior. Stopping the cooling while away will only cause you to use excessive amounts of energy to get your interior temperature back to a comfortable degree once you arrive home. Thankfully, installing a programmable thermostat can reduce this waste and decrease your monthly cooling costs. When using your thermostats, set the energy-saving temperatures to remain in place for long periods of time. Set the temperature for at least 8 hours each day or while you are away...

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5 Reasons Your Heating And Cooling Bills Aren’t Lowering

Posted by on 4:25 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Reasons Your Heating And Cooling Bills Aren’t Lowering

There are many energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions from which to choose, but even if you choose the best model, you still may be wasting money each time you heat and cool your home because of simple mistakes or misconceptions. If you are tired of high energy bills, check out these five reasons your heating and cooling bills aren’t lowering. You Don’t Know How to Properly Use a Ceiling Fan If you’re trying to use your ceiling fan to keep your home cool in the summer and not using at all during the winter, you don’t know how to use a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans don’t make the room cold. They only work when someone is in the room because they make your skin feel cool. So stop wasting electricity by using your fan when you aren’t in the room. During the winter, you can use your ceiling fan to actually help circulate warm air. Most fans should spin counterclockwise during summer and clockwise during winter. This reverse action pushes hot air that has risen to the ceiling down where you are. You Keep Closing Vents to Unused Rooms If you have a typical ducted system without zoned heating/cooling, don’t close the vents. Closing vents may seem like an ideal way to save energy by not heating or cooling unused rooms, but it isn’t. When you do this, the system may actually use more energy or have reduced airflow. It will also increase the pressure within the air ducts, which pushes air out through gaps and holes in the vents, wasting energy. If you have a lot of rooms you don’t want to heat or cool often, you should invest in a zoned heating/cooling system to save money. Without zoned heating, it’s best to just leave all the vents open. You Think Window Curtains Are Just for Privacy Window curtains are perfect for a little bit of privacy, but that’s not all they are designed to do. You may want to keep out prying eyes, but during sunny cold days, it’s best to open your curtains and let in the sunlight, especially on south-facing windows. This allows you to use passive solar heating. Instead of heating your room with the furnace, you use free heat from the sun to warm your home. If you install insulated curtains and you keep them closed on cold overcast days or at night, they prevent heat from escaping your home. During the summer, they can block heat from entering your home. You Ignore Your Heating and Cooling Ducts If you have a ducted heating system, such as a furnace, you have ductwork throughout your home. It’s hidden in the ceiling, attic, walls, basement and crawlspace, which can make it easily forgettable. However, neglecting to routinely check your ducts can be a big mistake. About 20 to 30 percent of air in the ducts escapes through holes, which is why you should have your ducts properly sealed to reduce leaks. While you’re at it, don’t hesitate to insulate the ducts in areas of the house you don’t heat/cool, such as the crawlspace. You Think Bigger Is Always Better If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you may be tempted to buy the biggest furnace or air conditioner available because it will keep...

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Building New Townhouses? Ductless Heating And Cooling Systems Might Be The Right Choice

Posted by on 3:22 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Building New Townhouses? Ductless Heating And Cooling Systems Might Be The Right Choice

If you’re in the process of having a new row of townhouses built, then one of the big decisions you’ll need to make is which type of heating and cooling system to choose for the units. While standard, duct-based heating and cooling systems with a separate furnace and AC unit seem to be the norm, there’s another choice that’s gaining popularity and is well-suited for use in townhouse-style homes: ductless heat pump systems. Read on to learn a bit more about how this type of heating and cooling system works, and why it’s a good choice for your townhouses. What are ductless heat pump systems? Ductless heat pump systems consist of two main parts: the heat pump, which is located outside, and the air handling unit, which is mounted on the exterior wall and connected to the heat pump. Depending on the layout and size of the building, multiple air handling units may be connected to a single heat pump. Thus, a single townhouse could have two or three air handling units mounted on walls in separate rooms. The residents adjusts the temperature of the room via the thermostat located on the air handling unit. If several air handling units are present, they can be set to different temperatures, creating temperature “zones” within the home. In the winter, the heat pump captures heat from the outdoor air and then sends it into the home via the air handling unit. In the summer, the heat pump works in the opposite manner. Heat is collected from the air in the home and transferred outside. This one, single unit functions as either a furnace and an air conditioner, depending on the season. What are the advantages of ductless heat pumps for townhouses? They save space. When designing townhouses, space is always a concern. With a ductless heat pump system, you can maximize the interior space of your homes, since you do not have to leave room in the walls for ducts. Greater square footage in the interiors will make the homes more appealing to potential buyers or tenants. Without a furnace in the basement, you’ll also have an easier time making any basement space into living space. You only have to maintain one unit. When you own or manage many different townhouses, keeping track of warranties and maintenance on a long list of appliances can be cumbersome. When you choose a ductless heat pump system, you only have one heating and cooling unit to maintain per home, rather than a furnace and an AC unit. The units can be accessed from the outside for repairs. If you will be renting out your townhouses rather than selling them, you (or your property manager) will need to gain access to the home’s interior in order to access a standard furnace for repairs or maintenance. Coordinating this with tenants’ schedules can be tough. However, since the heat pump is located outside the home, many repairs can be conducted without having to enter the tenant’s space. They use less energy. Because the warmed (or cooled) air is not traveling though a long series of ducts, losing valuable heat before entering the living space, less energy is wasted with ductless heating and cooling systems than with standard HVAC systems. Heat pumps also use less energy in general...

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How To Prepare Your A/C System For Winter Hibernation

Posted by on 3:00 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Prepare Your A/C System For Winter Hibernation

After providing an entire summer of reliable and effective cooling, it’s time to give your A/C system a well-deserved break. As you get ready to put up your A/C system for the winter ahead, you can also take advantage of this time to brush up on some system maintenance. The following offers a list of things you should do to get your A/C system prepared for winter hibernation. Power Down The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure power to the A/C system is switched off before any hibernation preparations are made. In most cases, this means shutting off the A/C unit at the circuit breaker or flipping an external switch to the “off” position. Remember to Replace the Air Filter Changing the air filter is a pretty simple step, but it’s also one that’s commonly forgotten by homeowners. Holding onto that old air filter while your A/C system lies dormant could potentially attract mold and mildew growth, especially if the air filter happens to be completely clogged with old dust, debris and other unwelcome pollutants. Changing your air filter right now also ensures that you won’t forget about it when you need your A/C system up and running again. Most experts recommend changing your A/C unit’s air filter at least every three months, although some recommend changing it every month to ensure excellent indoor air quality and HVAC system performance. Check and Clean the Evaporator Coil Your A/C system uses its evaporator coil to help facilitate the transfer of latent heat from indoor air to outdoors. Unfortunately, it also happens to inhabit a relatively dark and damp space where mold spores have a chance to flourish. Dust, dirt and other harmful particles can also become rather attached to the evaporator coil and get in the way of the heat transfer process. Before you mothball your A/C unit for the winter, it’s a good idea to check the evaporator coil for signs of dirt buildup and mold growth. If necessary, you can clean the evaporator coil using special foam cleaner or a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush. Just remember to be gentle with the evaporator coil, as it could prove extremely easy to damage. Clear Condensate from the A/C Unit The process of transferring latent heat onto the evaporator coil also creates condensation, which is usually trap and funneled into a nearby drain. Here are a few things you should do about clearing condensate from the A/C unit before its shut down for the winter: Make sure the condensate drain isn’t clogged with debris. If it is, use a relatively stiff length of wire or a small plumbing snake to break up the clog and restore drainage. After making sure the condensate drains properly, take a look at the drip tray. Plastic drip trays should be checked for cracks and warping. Metal drip trays should be monitored for signs of corrosion or metal fatigue. Take a look at the condensate drain and make sure the PVC pipe used in its construction doesn’t have any cracks, holes or chunks missing. Clean and Cover Your Condenser Cabinet Last but not least, you should not only make sure your A/C system’s condenser cabinet is free of debris, but you should also make sure it’s properly shielded against leaves, twigs...

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Why Geothermal Heat Pumps Might Just Be The Best Thing Ever

Posted by on 4:58 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Geothermal Heat Pumps Might Just Be The Best Thing Ever

There are few things that can make a bigger difference in your energy costs than a geothermal heat pump. It is strange then, that these are not more popular. Here are some great reasons to consider adding a geothermal heat pump to your home. The Energy Costs Are Lower And More Predictable The biggest reason to get a geothermal heat pump is to reduce your energy usage. Heat pumps are tuned to work at a specific temperature, and the closer to that temperature the feed is, the more efficient it will be. Geothermal loops chill or heat the containing liquid to a very consistent temperature which then, in turn, allows the heat pump to run at its most efficient. This translates directly into savings on your monthly energy bill. This also solves on of the main issues with non-geothermal heat pumps. As mentioned, heat pumps lose their efficiency if they are fed with air that is a wide range of temperatures. Traditional heat pumps are fed by outdoor air, and that certainly gives it a wide range of temperatures. This also makes your energy bills very unpredictable. On especially hot or cold days your energy costs will skyrocket exponentially. Geothermal heat pumps avoid this problem. The Maintenance Is Much Less Involved Air conditioner condensers and heat pumps sit outside all the time. As with most things that sit outside all the time, you need to clean them regularly in order to keep the devices running properly. This is a constant efficiency issue, as the grime, leaves and twigs build up inside, slowing down airflow until you get around to cleaning it. With a geothermal heat pump, the pump sits inside and the loop is closed. That means that you don’t have to worry about any of that dirt and grime getting into the heat pump and gunking up the works. This benefits both the efficiency of your heat pump (you can never get an outdoor unit perfectly clean) and your schedule, since you don’t have to spend time cleaning it. In addition, the underground pipes are several feet beneath the surface and are therefore protected from the elements as well. Since this part also doesn’t require any maintenance, all that’s left is to change out the filter a couple times a year. The System Lasts Longer  Longevity goes hand-in-hand with reduced maintenance. A geothermal system just doesn’t have to take the beating that an outdoor unit would. Just how long this type of system lasts might shock you. Whether you go with a traditional forced air system or a ductless one, this piece is going to be similar to an air-fed heat pump. Since there are no moving parts, the only dangers to your ducts are improper installation and damage during a remodel. A standard heat pump will generally last about 15 years. You can make one last longer if you maintain it properly but, eventually, time will take its toll. Since a geothermal heat pump sits inside, it sees far less wear and tear and enjoys a longer life. A geothermal heat pump has an expected life of 25 years. The ground loop pipes of the geothermal unit usually last twice as long as the heat pump, putting them in the 50-year range. It is entirely possible that advances in technology will allow modern...

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Why A Perfect Match Is Crucial For Central A/C Systems

Posted by on 11:31 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why A Perfect Match Is Crucial For Central A/C Systems

Your central A/C system features two separate halves that are designed to work together for a singular purpose. One half of your central A/C system resides indoors and absorbs latent heat in your home’s indoor air. The other half resides outdoors and expels the latent heat transferred from the indoor unit. It’s possible for either half to fail unexpectedly, especially if it’s been years since you last replaced your central A/C system. As tempting as it might be to replace only the half that failed, there are plenty of reasons why replacing the entire central A/C system is the only way to go. Mismatched A/C Systems Can Prove Costly to Maintain For starters, replacing only half of your central A/C system can prove to be a costly proposition that only becomes more expensive as time goes on. Whatever savings you might have achieved by purchasing only half a system can easily be wiped out by increased maintenance costs. HomeAdvisor notes that most air conditioning repairs for a typical household range between $167 and $495. Keeping a mismatched A/C system alive through constant repairs could easily cost you double or even triple that amount. Costly repair bills aren’t the only thing you’ll have to deal with if you mismatch your central A/C system. Mismatched A/C systems also end up using far more energy than what a properly matched A/C system would use. This means that you could end up spending hundreds of dollars more on your utility bills when using a mismatched central A/C system. Poor Performance Comes With Mismatched Systems Combining one older half of a central A/C system with a newer half can also have consequences in terms of overall performance. For example, linking an older coil from an older A/C system half with that of a newer half can place the entire A/C system under stress, leading to reduced cooling capacity as the system struggles to keep up with cooling demands. Features found on newer A/C systems may also end up being detrimental or even incompatible with older units. For example, thermal expansion valves used in newer systems to help boost performance through improved refrigerant control can damage older compressors. Incompatible refrigerant types can also pose problems. If your A/C system still relies on R-22, for instance, it’ll be nearly impossible to use a newer half that requires R-410a, since both refrigerant types are incompatible with one another. Mismatched A/C Systems Also Affect Your Replacement Schedule and Warranty The average central A/C system offers a projected lifespan of 12 to 15 years. As a result, most homeowners abide by a replacement schedule that often calls for their A/C system to be replaced within 10 years. If half of your central A/C system fails unexpectedly around Year 6, for instance, replacing only the failed half could have some unique consequences. Let’s say that the other half finally fails around Year 10. Now you’ll end up with half an A/C system that’s already 4 years old and, due to premature wear and tear, likely to need replacement within the next couple of years. Instead of having your A/C system replaced with a properly matched candidate every 10 years, you could wind up replacing A/C system halves every 5 to 6 years. Purchasing a mismatched A/C system could also have...

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Keeping Warm In Your Historic Home

Posted by on 8:32 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keeping Warm In Your Historic Home

If you have a historic home (generally any home that is at least 50 years old and that was built in the prevailing architectural style of its time period), you already know that you need to be careful in modifying the home to preserve its integrity and historic charm. While older homes were often built with high-quality materials designed to withstand the test of time, they might be lacking in the features that make more modern homes energy efficient. If you are struggling with high energy bills, take a look at these ideas for keeping your home warm without it costing you an arm and a leg. Upgrade Your Heating System In most cases, upgrading the heating system won’t damage the integrity of your historic home. A solar-powered hot water system can reduce your bill, even in the winter. Insulate the pipes for even greater savings. You might consider a geothermal heating system, which pulls heat from the ground, even in the dead of winter. If you have an old furnace, a new one will be more efficient, even if it uses the same source of fuel. While these options aren’t inexpensive, they do tend to pay for themselves over time, and you’ll enjoy lower utility bills. Keep in mind that you also might be eligible for a tax credit if you upgrade to an efficient system. (Not all new systems are eligible, so be sure to contact a tax professional for more information on this.) Weatherproof Your Windows The need to replace old windows is often indicated when they are allowing too much cold air in, but in a historic home, this can do more harm than good. First, old wood windows are a rare commodity and often essential to the overall look of the home. Secondly, many homes built before 1978 contain lead paint. While this is not a problem if it’s in good shape, removing windows can stir up lead dust, which would lead to the need for remediation. Feel around your windows and see if you can detect cold air entering. Adding storm windows is one way to keep the windows in their original condition while introducing an additional layer of protection against the elements outdoors. You can also replace the putty around the windowpanes, then add weatherstripping and window film. Since you’ll need to remove the frame to do this, it makes sense to check for lead first; if you do have lead paint or lead putty, you can take measures to reduce your exposure. Insulate the Attic Old houses might not be insulated as well as newer ones. It’s tempting to have insulation added to the walls, but be aware that if your walls are not vented properly, the insulation could get damp. This can lead to mold, which causes health problems and can make it so you would need to replace the walls. Insulating the attic, however, is less risky and might be more effective than insulating the walls, since a lot of the air leakage is probably coming from here. In fact, This Old House reports that you can expect your heating bills to drop by 10 to 50 percent if you insulate your attic. You can use loose fill or batts (rolls or sheets of insulation already attached to backing)....

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3 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Your Well

Posted by on 4:57 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Your Well

About sixty million Americans get their water from their private well, not a municipal water supply. While private wells are common, myths about them are widespread, and believing these myths can put you and your family in danger. Here are three myths that you shouldn’t believe about your well. Well water is safer than public water It’s a common misconception that well water is safer than water from the municipal water supply since it comes straight from the groundwater supply and is natural. Unfortunately, this is just a myth; there is no guarantee that your well water is safer than municipal alternatives. In fact, a study by the U. S. Geological Survey found that 23% of private wells were contaminated, a statistic which underscores the danger of this particular myth. Public water is regularly tested in compliance with regulations put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency, and if contaminants are found, the water is treated. The Environmental Protection Agency has no jurisdiction over private wells, so the water isn’t tested or treated unless homeowners get it done themselves. Most homeowners only get their well water tested if the smell or color changes, not on a regular schedule like municipalities do, so your well water may in fact be more dangerous than the public water in your area. Don’t fall for this myth: get your well water tested. It’s easy to tell if water is contaminated Another dangerous myth is that if your well water looks and smells normal, it’s free of contaminants and safe to drink. The truth is that it’s not that easy. While some contaminants will make your water change color or taste bad, many contaminants are odorless and tasteless, so you could be drinking contaminated well water without realizing it. These contaminants can lead to problems ranging from an upset stomach to neurological problems. Colorless, odorless contaminants include things like arsenic and E. coli, as well as carcinogens like radon. To keep yourself safe, have your well water tested at least once a year. Collecting the required water samples is harder than it looks, so for an accurate reading, have your plumber collect the samples for you. Wells don’t need maintenance A well is just a deep hole in the ground, so it doesn’t need any maintenance, right? Wrong! The components of your well will break down as they age, and over time, parts will start working as well as they should. This is a serious problem because a poorly-maintained well may not be able to provide your family with safe drinking water. For example, the well cap or the well casing may crack, allowing contaminants to get inside or even ruining the well entirely. To avoid this problem, you need to schedule yearly inspections with a plumber. More frequent inspections may be necessary if you live in an area prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters that may damage your well. During the inspection, your plumber will carefully examine all your well’s components. If problems are found, it may be possible to repair them before they get worse. Replacing a cap is a fairly simple procedure, but fixing a cracked casing can prove more difficult, especially if the crack is located further down the well. In the latter case, wells often need to be...

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