HVAC- heating, ventilation, and air conditioning- It is a system that provides different types of heating and cooling services to residential and commercial buildings. Its function is to provide thermal comfort, humidity control and acceptable indoor air quality.
The majority of home and smaller commercial air conditioning systems circulate a compressed gas refrigerant in a closed “split” system to cool and condition inside air. The refrigerant has to be re-cooled and condensed, and outside air is the medium most often used to accomplish this. The term “split” simply means that components are divided into inside and outside portions as opposed to being located together in a “package” unit. The refrigerants, widely recognized by the trademark “freon” (which is a registered trademark of the DuPont company for refrigerants), helps cool and dehumidify the inside air. In a “forced air” system, an internal blower circulates the conditioned air through ducts to the rooms where the cooler air is needed. The air ducts generally run either below the ceiling and inside the rooms (conditioned air) or in the attic (unconditioned air). An outside fan pulls air across the external parts of the system to cool and condense the refrigerant.
ENERGY STAR is a program that was created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help businesses and individuals make energy efficient purchases.
This program places the ENERGY STAR label, a small blue and white logo, on items that meet superior energy efficiency standards. This label provides an easy way for consumers to identify quality, high-efficiency products.
Air conditioning is a matured technology so most of the popular brands work well. Many of them use parts made by the same manufacturers. So, the main considerations are the price, warranty, attractiveness, noise, etc. Some manufacturers offer anywhere from a 10-12 year warranty on all parts while others offer only 1 year.
Whatever you decide, the most important consideration is the contractor you use. For your protection, make sure you use a licensed contractor for your installation. A licensed contractor using best refrigerant practices and procedures can save you time and money! You may buy the best system in the world but if it is not properly installed, you will actually be buying nothing but a big headache for years to come.
The benefits of air conditioning are to give a comfortable environment at work or at home throughout the seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
An Air Conditioning unit can have two functions – heating/cooling and humidity control. With an auto changeover switch on most new units, you set the temperature and the unit will cool or heat as required automatically.
Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 15 years, with gas furnaces lasting 20-25 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. If you live near bodies of water or the ocean, your system's life expectancy may be drastically shortened due to the harsh environment. If your system is over 10 years old, you should have your system checked for maintenance or replacement.
A Heat Pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable.
During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses—the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside your home.
Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.
However, keep in mind, if you do not use much heat and you are thinking about replacing your system, a heat pump is more expensive to purchase up front and you will only receive a return on the heating portion of your investment when the system is in the heat mode. Additional electrical requirements may also come into play when switching to a straight cool/electric heat system.
An air handler is usually a large metal box containing a blower, heating or cooling elements, filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. Air handlers usually connect to a ductwork ventilation system that distributes the conditioned air through the building and returns it to the AHU. In some instances, with a ductless mini or multi-split the air handler may NOT require a duct system at all, therefore the name, ductless.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, this unit of measure is used to measure cooling or heating capacity; 1 BTU is the amount of heat required to raise (or lower) the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. There are 12,000 BTU's in 1 Ton of Cooling.
When you schedule your regular maintenance visit with a qualified heating technician, they will test your system to make sure it is running at optimal levels. But there are some ways you can determine whether or not your system is working efficiently on your own. Abnormally high heating bills are one of the indicators that your system is running at low efficiency levels, but keep in mind that how well your home is insulated and sealed and whether your filters are clean will also play a role in heating costs.
You can also tell by how warm your house stays throughout the winter. If some rooms are colder than others, or if you find that you are turning up the thermostat more often, your heating system may not be running very efficiently. Check your thermostat setting. Is your heating system achieving the desired temperature setting you are requesting on the thermostat? If not, call one of our HVAC professionals to inspect and test your heater.
There are five main questions that need to be considered when deciding to either replace or repair your heating and cooling system:
Putting a new system in a home that has not had central air and heat before will require the installation of ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil. Beyond equipment, the most important component installed with a new system, however, is the duct-work.
Duct-work is composed of two parts, supply and return. Supply duct is attached to the outflow of the new system, delivering air to each zone in a home. The amount of air reaching each zone is determined by the size of supply duct-work connecting it to your system. Your dealer will help you determine the size of all the supply duct-work in your home.
The second part of the duct-work, the return duct, attaches to the inlet of the new system and draws air out of the spaces to be heated or cooled. Attached to the return duct is the filter. The filter should be placed as near to the furnace or air handler as possible. Duct-work can be either fiberglass or metal and must be properly sized in order to evenly distribute the proper amount of air to each room.
Ductless split systems can replace a traditional central ducted system or be used in addition to a central ducted system. It works in much the same way as a traditional air conditioner or heat pump, using an outdoor condensing unit, indoor air handler/evaporator (fan coil) with an outdoor condenser, attached to refrigerant line sets and a condensate drain line. The condenser is installed outside the home or business typically on a code approved surface. The conduit is then run from the outdoor unit to the individual room within the structure that you choose, even an attic or garage. Depending upon the system design, the use of wall-mounted interior units, ceiling mounted units, recessed fa coils, floor mounted air handlers are then installed and secured in the appropriately desired spaces to control cooling, heating and humidity as needed and designed.
One or a series of indoor units and refrigeration lines are used to transfer the cooled air from the outdoor condenser to the indoor units of your choice. It works in reverse with heated air in the winter. Units can be placed in any rooms you like and because each unit is individual, you control the specific temperature in that room instead of needing to set one thermostat for the entire house. As a result, you save money by cooling or heating only the space you are using. One of its greatest advantages is TRUE ZONING!
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed,or how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy. Its AFUE rating is measured as a percentage.
Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. According to the EPA- AFUE doesn't include the heat losses of the duct system or piping, which can be as much as 35% of the energy for output of the furnace when ducts are located in the attic, garage, or other partially conditioned or unconditioned space. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 80% AFUE in the south and 90% AFUE in the North. If your furnace is 10 – 15 years old, it very well may fall below the current furnace minimum and waste energy- costing you money.
When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest-efficiency system. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90% to 95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
This doesn’t mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace.
Furnace technology has advanced significantly in recent years. Modern furnaces are designed to provide more even and efficient heating than past furnaces, which can impact both how your system operates,sounds and what you notice about your system.
To better regulate temperatures and airflow, modern furnaces move more air over the heat exchanger than older furnaces. The air that comes out of your furnace registers may not seem as warm as the air from your old furnace, but overall airflow is improved. Better airflow means higher comfort.
Also, new furnaces are designed to integrate with high-efficiency air conditioners, so furnace blowers are more powerful to accommodate add-on cooling. Since cold air is much heavier than warm air, your system needs an extra boost from the blower to deliver cool air throughout your home. If you have an older home, this performance boost could produce unfamiliar sounds because air duct systems were originally designed for heating only. To minimize sound levels, choose a variable speed product which automatically changes speeds to meet the airflow needs of both heating and cooling cycles.
There are five basic types of automatic and programmable thermostats:
Most range in price, call and ask us which is best for you. Think thermostats don't matter? Think Again! Thermostats control half of your home's energy use. That is more than appliances, computers, stereos and lighting combined!
MERV is an acronym that stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.
What is a MERV Rating?MERV Rating is a filter comparison system designed by an industry group called the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Simply put, it’s a rating scale designed to allow consumers to easily compare the performance of one filter to another.
Why is there a MERV Rating?It is designed to measure a filter’s ability to capture and hold particles and pollutants. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles – dust mites, pet dander, air allergens, etc – your filter will remove from the air. Of course, screening out more particles from your air makes your air handler work a bit harder, so you may see a modest increase in power consumption by your air conditioning or furnace unit when choosing a higher MERV Rating.
How a MERV Rating benefits you?Matching the right MERV rating to your needs will improve your home’s air quality and will extend the life of your furnace or air conditioner.
The life of your filter depends on your environment and the type of filter you have installed. To put it simply, there really is no concrete answer to this question. Certain things such as:
If several of these factors sound familiar, you’ll likely experience a quicker loading of particles on your filters and will consequently have to change it more often. A good rule of thumb is to check your filter every month. If you can hold the filter up to a light and not see through it, it is time to change your filter. At an absolute minimum, you should change your filter every three months. A clean air filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which could lead to expensive maintenance and utility bills.
Modern central heating and air conditioning systems generally have the filter located as close to the blower unit as possible. The filter(s) can be located at the base of the air handler/furnace unit, in the cold air return duct located in your ceiling or on your wall. Remove the grill or box cover holding your filter in place.
Remove the dirty filter:
Dispose of the dirty filter in a bag to contain the dirt.
Install the new or cleaned and dried air filter with the air flow arrow pointing toward the blower. Record the date and wash or change the filter within the recommended period. If you experience higher dust levels in your home due to changes in outside air, construction or dry weather, you may need to change or wash your filter more frequently than the recommended period. For questions or concerns about the location or installation of the filter contact the HVAC manufacturer or give us a call. As a reputable HVAC contractor we can make recommendations that are right for both you and your system.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The frequency one should clean or change their A/C system's filter is highly dependent on many factors- 1) the type of filter being used, 2) how much traffic the home/office experiences, 3) presence of pets, 4) how much your heating and air conditioning system operates. Always start by checking your system's filter(s) once a month. If your home/office has remote filters in the wall/ceiling, do not forget to check and replace as indicated. For best practice, always follow the filter manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning or replacement. If you are unsure, please ask our trained service technicians.
We can help taking care of your new heating and cooling system. Enroll in our Service and Maintenance Program, and our Customer Care Specialists will send a technician to your home when it is time to check the whole system per manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure it is safe to use and performs at peak efficiency and while they are there, they can check, clean and/or replace your filter, if available.
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