A: Although many companies will tell you that there are health benefits to cleaning your air ducts and that it is recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), it just isn't true. The average household should not need their air ducts cleaned if they regularly change their air filter. There is a short list of reasons why you might want to have your ducts cleaned, which you can read more about here on the EPA website. Trusted Heating and Cooling does not offer this service because it is rarely ever needed and usually is just a frivolous cost that many companies want to add to your bill. We only recommend and provide services that you need and will truly add a benefit to you and your home/family. If you really think your ducts are dirty and need cleaning, there are hundreds of AC companies in Austin that do provide that service.
A: A properly installed air conditioning system will be balanced so that sufficient cold air is delivered to and returned from each room of your house. Closing doors and air conditioning supply vents disrupts this balance, causing your system to run at less than its designed efficiency. It also causes air pressure to increase in the ductwork, which magnifies the negative impact of any leaks you may have in your ductwork and reduces the efficiency of the air conditioning fan itself.
You can close doors to unused rooms if there is enough space under the door to allow for sufficient air circulation. If you do decide to close some registers, never close off vents to more than 10% of your total conditioned space.
A: Because heat travels from hot to cold, the heat that is entering through the window remains in the house and therefore has to be removed by the air conditioner. Even with the door closed, the heat that builds up in the room will eventually travel to a cooler section of the house to be removed by your air conditioning.
A: It is true that you do not want to run the two systems together because of the humidity. Air temperature feels different at different humidity levels. During the summer you will feel cooler and therefore more comfortable in your home at lower humidity levels, just like you feel more comfortable outside without the humidity of the monsoon.
While air conditioning units do dehumidify, it will take some time for the unit to remove the excess humidity from the air, the carpet, the furniture and anything else in your home. During this time, you may feel uncomfortable enough to lower the thermostat, increasing the cost of operating your system.
When switching over from evaporative cooling to air conditioning, make sure you close off the damper that isolates the ductwork and separates the two units. Without a tight seal between the two sections, hot outside air will be drawn in through the cooler and will mix with the conditioned air.
A: The answer depends on what type of heating you have. Typically, you use more energy to air
condition than you do to heat, due to the environment your air conditioner has to work in. The
hotter the outdoor temperature, the harder your unit works. As the outdoor temperature rises, the less efficient your air conditioning becomes and the more energy it uses to keep you cool.
If you are referring to the operation of a heat pump, it takes more energy to run the cooling side of a heat pump than it does the heating side.
The following two factors cause this to be true:
A: Studies have show that shading air conditioners and especially just shading condensing sections is of little value. In fact, improper installation can actually cause restricted airflow to the unit resulting in increased run time and higher operating costs.
A: Replacing your old air conditioning unit with a new system should be showing you summer air conditioning savings. However, in comparing one month to another, or one year to another, you must also account for weather and temperature differences.
Next, try to determine what portion of your monthly bill actually went to air conditioning. To do this, subtract your March bill -- a month when people typically do not use any cooling or heating -- from your July bill. The difference between these two months gives an estimate of your cooling cost.
Although you replaced other appliances, their impact will be minimal. However, changes to your windows can produce very large returns for a small investment. Almost 40% of all the heat that enters your house in the summer comes in through the glass. Installing simple and inexpensive exterior window shading on sun-struck windows can dramatically reduce the load on your air conditioner.
A: Different types of filters rely on different methods of filtration to do their job. The inexpensive filters rely on a fine coating around each of the fiberglass strands to help catch the dirt as the air passes through it. As this coating attracts more and more dirt, it becomes less and less efficient. If you wish to use these filters just make sure that you replace them at least once a month and maybe even more often during the summer.
Another kind of disposable filter uses pleated paper as its filtration medium. The pleats enable a large amount of filter paper to be installed in the filter frame thus increasing the filters efficiency. Even though it has more filtering surface area, it still needs to be checked monthly and replaced when necessary.
There are also permanent filters that can be operated by natural electrostatic charges or by electronic circuitry. While these filters do not need replacing, they can be expensive to purchase.
The bottom line is, unless you have a medical condition that requires high levels of air purification, disposable filters will work just fine. The thing you have to remember is that they must be replaced regularly. If they become clogged, your air conditioning system will not get the air it needs to run efficiently, resulting in higher-than-necessary cooling costs.
A: SEER is a measurement of the efficiency, while tons is a measurement of size. One ton of air conditioning is equivalent to 12,000 BTU. A BTU is a British Thermal Unit, and it is simply a measurement of heat. One BTU is roughly equivalent to the amount of heat generated by burning one wooden kitchen match. Simply put, this means that a one-ton air conditioner can remove 12,000 BTU from a space per hour.
To determine what size air conditioner a house needs, a contractor will conduct a heat gain/heat loss calculation, which enables the contractor to match the size of the unit to the BTU requirements of the specific house. A general rule of thumb for an average home is about 500 sq. ft. per ton.
Bigger definitely is not better. A larger-than-necessary system will turn on and off more frequently and cost more to operate than a properly sized system. A unit is operating at its lowest efficiency when it initially starts. The longer a unit runs the more efficient it is. Be sure to look for a properly sized system.
A: The SEER rating has basically nothing to do with how well a unit will cool your home. It simply refers to how much it will cost to operate the unit when it is running. The size of the system is the determining factor on how well it will cool your square footage. The builder's air conditioning contractor should have done the load calculations on your home and determined the size of the unit based upon them. Going to a 13 SEER can save you about 15% to 20% annually on air conditioning costs.
A: Turning your unit off in the morning when you leave the house and then waiting until you return at night to turn it back on will save you the most money. The problem is that not only will the air in your house have a chance to heat up but the furniture, carpet, walls, etc. will also heat up. With all this heat it will take your air conditioner longer to bring the temperature back down to a comfortable level.
The continuous operation of the unit is actually very efficient. Without all the starts and stops of a typical cycling unit, you're able to run the system at its peak efficiency. However, setting the thermostat at 85 will also save you money (perhaps not as much as turning the unit off), while not taking as long to re-cool your house. Both options work, it's just a matter of how much discomfort you're willing to put up with.
A: A properly running air conditioner installed on an energy efficient house should be able to bring the temperature down from 85 to 80 degrees within one to two hours. If your unit is not able to do this nor maintain a specific set point, then I'm guessing that you either have equipment problems. It could be incorrect refrigerant charge; air distribution problems, where the unit is producing the cooling but it is not being distributed throughout the house or is being mixed with hot attic air; or thermal problems with the house, such as missing or poor insulation.
A general rule of thumb is that one ton of air conditioning can handle 500 sq. ft. of conditioned space. So your 1,550 sq. ft. house should have a little over three tons.
Considering that your unit appears to be oversized and yet is not able to provide adequate cooling, I recommend that you have the system tested and your house inspected.
A: Pre-cooling works best when your house has a lot of mass built into it, also known as heavy construction. In a heavy house, pre-cooling tile-over-slab floors, masonry fireplaces, granite counter tops, masonry perimeter walls etc. allows the house to store a lot of the pre-cooling energy and coast well into the on-peak period without requiring additional air conditioning. Light house construction (frame construction, carpeted floors, laminate countertops, drapes etc.), on the other hand, will not have enough mass to store much of the pre-cooling energy.
Any pre-cooling strategy has to be operated long enough to cool the structure and not just the air. If your house is heavy, I'd recommend pre-cooling it down eight to 10 degrees for a good four to six hours prior to the on-peak period. If your house is light then a four- to six-degree pre-cool for a couple of hours should be fine.
A: Replacing a 13-year-old air conditioning unit with a new 13 SEER system can save you 40% to 45% on your air conditioning bill.
While SRP recommends a minimum 13 SEER, you should rely on your contractor to help you decide what level of efficiency is best for you. Before you buy any system, make sure that the contractor performs a heat gain and loss calculation on your house. This will ensure that you buy the correct unit size for your house. Systems that are larger than necessary will not only have higher initial equipment costs, but also higher operating costs.
With regard to the manufacturer, all the major brands manufacture high quality equipment that will last 15 to 20 years. When shopping, manufacturers, look at their warranties as a sign of their quality.
A: Have your contractor calculate the cooling requirement for your house. Just replacing an old unit with a new unit of the same size may not be in your best interest. Your cooling loads may have changed over the years due to changes to your house. Installing larger-than-required equipment costs more to purchase and costs more to operate each month. Make sure your contractor also checks your home's air distribution system to ensure proper airflow is being delivered to and from the unit. Duct leaks can reduce the efficiency of the unit, causing increased operating costs.
The industry says that Freon R12 will be around for many years, but there is no guarantee of how much it will cost. I recommend a system that uses the new refrigerants, as they are not limited to quantities on hand. In addition, a SEER 12 will save you approximately 10% in cooling costs over a SEER 11 system.
A: Air conditioners perform two basic functions, heat removal and moisture removal. Even though you live in Arizona, we do have our monsoon season with its higher-than-normal humidity levels. The lower the humidity level, the more comfortable you will feel at a given temperature.
As your warm indoor air is drawn up through the filter, it passes over a very cold coil that removes the heat and moisture. If you've ever noticed a plastic pipe running off your roof that drips water, that is the moisture the unit has removed from the inside of your home.
A: How long a unit runs at any one time is dependent on many things, including the size and efficiency of the air conditioning unit, the operating condition of the unit and the temperature swing of the thermostat. While typical cycle times are approximately 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, the longer the unit runs, the more efficient it is. However, longer-than-necessary run times can indicate a problem with the unit.
To see if your system is performing like it should, get a hold of a couple of quick response thermometers and put one in the return grill (the grill where your filter goes) and the other one in the supply register (the vent that blows the cold air into the room) closest to the return grill. You should see about a 20-degree difference between the two readings. If not, it can indicate that you have refrigerant or air flow problems.
It is very hard to determine if your cycling pattern is normal without an inspection of the system. I recommend having a contractor inspect the unit.
A: Replacing the old heat pump with a new unit you should save you at least 50% on air conditioning costs. SRP recommends a minimum efficiency rating of 13 SEER; however, you should rely on your contractor to determine the best unit for your specific situation.
Proper sizing is very important. A larger-than-necessary unit will cost more to purchase and will also cost more to operate each month. Make sure your contractor performs a heat gain and loss analysis on the house, which will help you select the proper size unit.
A: It means that your unit is removing the moisture from inside of your house and depositing it outside. However, the output of the condensate drain should vary as the indoor and outdoor humidity rises and falls.
During normal operation, the evaporator coil located inside your air conditioner becomes very cold. As the air from inside your house is drawn through this coil, the air is cooled and the moisture is removed. The cold air is returned to your house through the supply registers and the moisture drains to the bottom of the coil, into a drain pan and out the condensate drain.
A:The longer a properly operating air conditioner runs, the lower the humidity should be. Several things could be wrong with your unit:
A: If your house is well-insulated and tightly sealed, turning your air conditioner off completely is probably the best approach. In a newer, well-insulated home the interior temperature typically doesn't rise higher than the mid to upper 80s when the unit is turned off.
By turning your thermostat up and not turning it off completely, you will protect any fine wood furniture or other items that can be damaged by the heat and dryness. I also recommend placing several buckets of water in your bathtub. The water will slowly evaporate and add moisture to the air.
If you have an older, less insulated home, you should continue to turn your air conditioner up to a high setting as you have in the past, as the temperature in older homes can rise into the 90s.
You should also turn off the power to your refrigerator, prop open the door, and turn your electric water heater off. If you don't, the higher temperatures can cause your refrigerator to run twice as long and the water heater will continue to cycle on and off all summer.
A: The insulation you added to the roof of your home should reduce the heat gain and lower your air conditioning costs. However, since only about eight to 10% of the heat that enters your home actually comes in through the roof, the actual effect of the insulation will be limited.
About 40-50% of the heat comes in through the windows. While your awnings help divert sunlight, you might want to consider adding shading screens to the outside if any of your windows receive direct or reflected sunlight. If you're going to be gone for the summer, in addition to setting your thermostat to its highest setting or turning it completely off, you should consider emptying out your refrigerator, propping the door open and unplugging it. If you leave it operating, it will run almost 24 hours a day because of the hotter temperature inside your home. This can add a significant amount to your monthly bill.
Because heat travels from hot to cold, the heat that is entering through the window remains in the house and therefore has to be removed by the air conditioner. Even with the door closed, the heat that builds up in the room will eventually travel to a cooler section of the house to be removed by your air conditioning.