HVAC Stats and Facts For Homeowners

 

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A Brief History of Air Conditioning

Did you know that people have been coming up with novel ways to keep cool for millennia? Your current whole-home air conditioner may be a modern convenience, but it is just the latest in a long line of cooling innovations. How did our ancestors stay cool in the summer and in hot climates? Take a quick tour of the brief history of air conditioning.

It All Started with Cavemen

Humans’ first homes were natural formations: caves. They not only provided protection from the elements and predators; they also provided a cool place to get out of the sun. These ancient ancestors not only understood that being underground was cooler; they took full advantage of it by living in caves and digging tunnels and burrows to beat the heat.

Egyptians Used Water to Get Cool

We know today that water can have a cooling effect, and some modern HVAC systems still use that principle. The Egyptians discovered this fact thousands of years ago and used it to cool their homes. They hung water-soaked reeds in windows to cool incoming breezes.

Ducts Were Invented in Ancient Greece

Today all of our HVAC systems use ducts to move warm and cool air through a building to heat or cool it. The ancient Greeks were the first to discover that this would be a good way to control temperature. They used water piped in to buildings to change cool rooms. The Romans took that idea and improved on it with air ducts under floors to move warm and cool air through bath houses and other buildings.

Thank China for Fans

We still use fans today because these simple devices are effective at cooling you down in the heat. It was in ancient China that people first realized that moving air cools and the fan was invented. Today we use fans in place of air conditioning systems, but also within them to move air around rooms and buildings.

Our methods for getting cool have changed over the millennia, but not as much as you may have realized. We still use fans, ducts, and even geothermal cooling, first discovered by our cave-dwelling ancestors.

To learn more about your modern air conditioning options, check in with a Cardinal Heating and A/C professional today.

Benefits of Financing Your New Heating and Cooling System

Sometimes heating and cooling systems break down at inconvenient times, and many homeowners haven’t been able to set aside enough money for such an expense. When you finance your heating and cooling system, you can get what you need right away, while being able to make comfortable payments toward your investment.

How Financing Your Heating and Cooling System Can Help You

Financing generally goes through a lending agency that works with the HVAC company. The lending agency handles the financial side of the transaction, while the HVAC company provides the service.

Ease of Mind

Financing can help individuals and families get needed repairs and replacements without having to worry about paying the entire amount up front. Having to make a large purchase can be traumatic and nerve-wracking, especially if the investment means that you’ll fall behind in other important areas. By financing your HVAC needs, you can continue to enjoy livable temperatures without having to break the bank.

Energy Savings

If you buy an energy efficient system, you’ll be saving yourself money each month in utility costs. For instance, replacing an air conditioning unit with a 10 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) with one with an 18 SEER can save you up to 48 percent in your annual cooling utility costs.

How to Obtain Financing

You don’t need to have perfect credit to qualify for HVAC financing. Gather the following documents so the lending institution can make a fully informed decision:

  • Credit report—A good credit score is an important factor in obtaining quality financing. The amount you’ll receive and the interest rate on the loan will be tied to your credit score.
  • Pay stubs—Gather the last three months’ worth of pay stubs for income verification. If you’re self-employed, bring proof of income through either deposit receipts or your last tax return. If you have others listed on the loan application as well, they will also need to provide proof of income.
  • Letters of reference—Some companies allow letters of reference, which helps them determine the outcome of the loan application. This is especially important if you have poor or minimal credit, as the letters can help show your reliability. If you’re able to provide reference letters from employers or utility companies, you can show that you’re consistent and financially responsible.

If you need to replace or repair your HVAC system and don’t have the funds to hire a contractor on your own, consider speaking with your HVAC company about financing options. Most companies understand their customers’ situations and offer finance applications as part of their regular service.

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Can I Replace the Outdoor Unit on My Older Air Conditioning System with a Newer Model?

In some instances one part of a split-system air conditioner will stop working even while the other half continues to function. This happens most frequently with the outside cabinet (the condenser unit), where the compressor and the condenser coils work together to dispatch waste heat removed from inside the home.

If this ever happens to you, and you can find an exact duplicate, you certainly can change outer cabinets without disturbing the interior section of your air conditioner. But if your air conditioner is old it might occur to you to look for a more modern condenser unit, which would be more energy-efficient than your old one and could save you money as a result (you assume). You may have heard this is possible and technically you’re correct, it is.

But if such a thought ever enters your mind you should send it into exile immediately. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and that is definitely the case here.

 

Split-System Chaos and the End of Your Air Conditioner

HVAC technology is ever-evolving and always in the direction of faster operation and greater efficiency. In comparison to older models, for example, modern condenser units feature coils that have larger surface areas, more aerodynamically correct geometry, improved tubing and an overall performance profile that dwarfs anything manufactured 10 or 20 years ago.

This sounds great, but there is a fundamental disconnect between the past and the present that will cause trouble if you turn your old air conditioner into a half-modernized hybrid. With a system like this you’ll experience less efficient heat transfer and cooling, increased energy consumption, frequent breakdowns and finally catastrophic product failure.

This isn’t speculative—using standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers, manufacturers have tested various combinations of technologically mismatched air conditioning components and proved conclusively that mixed systems don’t work well and are essentially disasters waiting to happen.

In addition to poor cooling performance and excess energy usage, incompatibility between old and new AC components leads to imbalances in performance between inside and outside that will ultimately lead to compressor failure.

The aforementioned tests showed compressors were 45 percent more likely to fail in the first year if the outdoor and indoor units were not technologically compatible in every aspect, and even if compressors managed to survive longer they were still doomed to die young.

 

This Just In: Short Cuts Will Cost You More

While energy-efficiency is always good, the best way to get it with an HVAC set-up is to install a fully-integrated contemporary system. It will cost more in the short-term but in the long-term it is bound to save you money.

And if one half of your split-system air conditioner has already failed it’s a fair bet the other half isn’t in the greatest shape and may be nearing a meltdown anyway.

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Myths About Air Conditioning

Many homes and businesses rely on air conditioning units when the warmer weather arrives. We may not know much about these appliances, but we know full well the comfort they can provide when the temperatures outside climb. Here are a few commonly believed air conditioning myths:

 

Myth #1: Having your air condition serviced is a waste of money

This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. It is important to have your home or business air conditioning unit cleaned and serviced at least once or twice per year in order to keep it in good working condition. Not taking this step can lead to costly and unexpected breakdowns. Having this service done can catch small problems before they become big ones and lead to the temperatures rising inside. Save time and money by having your air conditioning unit cleaned and service on a regular basis by an experienced HVAC professional.

Myth #2: Setting your thermostat higher when you leave and turning it down when you come home will save energy and money.

This is also false. Although it may not make a lot of sense at first glance, your air conditioner actually has to work harder for longer when it fights higher temps. If your air conditioner runs throughout the day to keep your home at a constant temperature, as opposed to running constantly for several hours to get your home or business back to the comfortable temperature you desire, it actually wastes more energy, and therefore, money.

 

Myth #3: Getting the largest air conditioning unit you can buy will keep your home or business the coolest.

Again, this is false. Air conditioners actually dehumidify the air. It is important to purchase and install an air conditioning unit that is appropriately sized to your own home. Using the right sized machine will keep your energy cost to a minimum, as well as keep your home cool.

We all like our homes and businesses to be of comfortable temperatures. However, we don’t like the higher energy bills that come with the warmer months. Taking the right steps can give you the best of both worlds; keeping your home cool while paying less in energy bills.

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My Air Conditioner Is Frozen! What Happened?

A lack of airflow coming from inside vents is one of the first signs of a frozen air conditioner. Many things, including improper maintenance, can lead to this condition, which causes ice crystals to form on the coils.

The evaporator coil removes heat and moisture from the air. If the climate is humid, much of the water vapor condenses inside the air conditioner and collects in a drip pan before flowing into a floor drain. When the drain is blocked, the water backs up and freezes around the coil.

A common problem that causes the coils to freeze is low refrigerant levels. If the unit was not charged properly when it was installed or the system has developed a leak, the evaporator coil becomes too cold. If this happens, you should call a HVAC technician to find the leak, repair it and recharge the system.

Some homeowners close the registers in empty rooms to save energy. This is effective to a point, but if too many registers are closed, the system is under stress and the coils could freeze.

Something as simple as a dirty air filter restricts airflow through the system. The coil requires adequate amounts of hot, humid air to work properly. This is completely preventable if you remember to clean or change the system’s air filters every month.

If you do have a frozen air conditioner, the first thing you should do is turn the unit off to prevent compressor damage. Check the condensate drain and clear away any debris that may be blocking it. Turning on the AC fan and using a blow dryer on the evaporator coil will help speed up the melting process. Do not turn the air conditioner on until all the ice has melted and you are sure the drain is clear.

Routine maintenance and annual inspections by a qualified HVAC specialist can prevent your air conditioner from freezing up and ensure that it keeps working at peak performance during the hottest days of the year when you need it most.

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How Does Humidity Affect Air Conditioning And Heating

Too much humidity can make people feel hotter in summer and sometimes high levels of humidity can affect how effective your HVAC system is. What most people don’t realize though is the fact that heating systems are also affected by excessive humidity not just cooling ones. Modern HVAC systems today are designed with inbuilt humidifiers and dehumidifiers which are both designed to control the level of humidity at one particular time. So how exactly does a lot of humidity affect your HVAC systems? Here is a simple explanation.

Effects of Humidity on Cooling

A lot of people will often associate the HVAC system’s ability to its size. It’s not always true to conclude that the bigger a system is the more effective it will be. If your HVAC system is far much bigger than what you need, its ability to remove humidity will be highly curtailed. With the moisture in the air, it becomes very difficult for the HVAC system to cool your home. Ultimately, you will spend more energy and get less cooling. The best way to deal with this is to simply buy an HVAC system that has the right size and ideal for your home. Additionally, you can also have a dehumidifier installed in your HVAC system to deal with the moisture in the air.

How Humidity Affects Heating

Just like cooling, the capacity of an HVAC system to heat up your home will be significantly reduced depending on the humidity present in your home. However, unlike in cooling, this works in reverse. In other words, a drop in the level of humidity in the home affects the ability of the HVAC system to heat up your home which is different from cooling where an increase in humidity affects the HVAC system. There are very innovative humidifiers that can be installed in the system to deal with this. When humidity levels drop the home feels colder and the more the HVAC systems needs to work in order to heat it up.

The effects of humidity on cooling and heating are very real but the good news is, there are practical solutions to explore.

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How Do I Know If My A/C Unit Is Big Enough?

 

Only the correct size of an air conditioning unit will effectively keep you and your family comfortable. An A/C that is too big will not only consume a lot of your power but will also leave your house with excess humidity. On the other hand, an A/C that is too small will not cool your room or house to the desired temperatures. Accordingly, choosing the right sized air conditioner require a little bit research and some basic mathematics. Here is an overview of a few tips that you can use to end up with the right A/C for your home:

1. Measure the Square Footage of Your Room: Using a tape measure, measure the length and width of the room that you plan to air condition. If the room is not rectangular or square, you can divide it into smaller sections (composed of triangles and squares) so that you take the measurements.

2. Calculate the square footage of your room. You can do this by multiplying the length of your room by its width if your room is square or rectangular. For a room with other shapes, you can divide it into triangular sections, which you can then find their square footage by multiplying 0.5 by length by width then summing them up. The sum will be the square footage of the room.

3. If you are planning to purchase a central A/C system, calculate the square footage of every room in your home. Don’t include areas such as basements or garage because they won’t be cooled.

4. Determine the cooling capacity of your room or your home. The cooling capacity of a central or room air conditioner is usually measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. Depending on the size of your room or home (in square feet), you will easily gauge its cooling capacity from the United States Department of Energy Star website—they offer guidelines for BTUs per square feet.

For better performance, buying the right size of an AC should be a priority. Follow our blog for more information on heating, cooling, and keeping your home energy efficient.

The Great Debate – Fans Or A/C

In this day and age, the air conditioner has been considered a necessity. A few decades back, this machinery would have been a tagged luxury, since the old trusty fan could do the trick. This has spawned the great debate of fans or A/C.

When it comes to the electricity costs involved, the humble fans, no doubt, win the contest. Air conditioning units, even the newest models and the most efficient types, occupy the top spot in terms of electricity consumption and usage. Records show that the typical family residence can consume on an annual basis some 2,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Annually, this equates to about 5 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States at a price of $11 billion.

A window type unit operating 12 hours a day consumes 335 kilowatt-hours in a month and costs more or less $40 per month. A medium-sized ceiling fan running at a high setting 12 hours per day will only cost around $3.50 per month. Fancier fans with higher revolutions per minute can add about $4.40 to the electrical bill.

The good news is that running an air conditioner 24/7 is not required for comfort. Utilizing a fan can also keep family members comfortable. Fans are particularly helpful in augmenting the effect of the air conditioner to cool humans. Moving air spreads the heat in metabolism, drawing it away from the body, while perspiration allows the skin to cool. This strategy not only translates to savings but also promotes a cleaner and greener earth as less energy is used. While the thermometer will reveal that the temperature is not affected by the ceiling fan, the feeling of coolness for the occupants in the room is increased. When a room feels cooler, the air conditioner can consequently be adjusted.

The fans or A/C debate may just draw a tie with the proposed combination. The approach is certainly a win-win situation for all. To help assess an individual or family’s needs and options to go for fans or A/C, as well as other heating and air conditioning inquiries, do not hesitate to contact us today.

How To Maintain The Efficiency Of An Air Conditioner

Air conditioning efficiency plays a vital role in the overall functioning of the unit and total energy consumption of any household. Air conditioners tend to consume a lot of energy when they are not properly maintained and serviced regularly. However, there are a few measures that you can take to make the air conditioner more efficient and thus save energy cost.

The outdoor unit i.e. the condenser should be free from clutter, dust and debris. Thoroughly clean this unit. Take professional help if required for internal cleaning of this unit.

The vents that supply air inside the room also get clogged with dust over a period of time. Unnecessary dust accumulated in the system anywhere will lead to its inefficiency. Hence, anything that obstructs the flow of air in and out of the air conditioning unit must be cleared away.

Adjust the temperature of the thermostat depending on the weather and seasonal conditions. Appropriate change in the thermostat will bring you considerable savings from energy bills. Avoid placing appliances near the thermostat that radiate heat. The extra warmth from these appliances will make the thermostat work extra hard to bring down the temperature of the room.

Use blinds and curtains appropriately during the time of the day when sunlight directly hits your home. Adequate protection by this means will relieve the burden on the air conditioning unit. During the hottest part of the day, refrain from using appliances that radiate heat. This extra heat in the house will also burden the air conditioning unit.

Ducts take conditioned air from the unit to several rooms in the house. If the ducts are leaking somewhere they are not supposed to, it may cause additional load on the air conditioner. This leakage will amount to an inefficient system.

With some knowledge of the system and general maintenance tips, you should be able to maintain the efficiency of your air conditioner at a near optimum level. When you see considerable increase in energy bills during the summer months, you may want to call us to seek the help of our professionals to audit the air conditioning unit for its efficient operation.