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7 Components That Contribute to Home Cooling

May 2, 2016
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    May2       You turn the thermostat down and the air conditioning system kicks on. Soon, a stream of cool air flows through the ducts to keep you cool and comfortable. For most people, that’s about all they need to know about the way their air conditioning system operates. The truth is, air conditioning is a bit more complex than flipping a switch. While relatively easy to understand, there is a lot of physics and chemistry involved in keeping your home cool and the following are the seven components that make home cooling work the way it should: The Evaporator. These are the cooling coils that transfer the heat and remove the humidity from the air as it circulates over the coils. The Blower. The blower is the component that circulates the air over the evaporator coils and disperses the cooled air through the system. The Condenser. The condenser collects the heat circulating through the system and releases it into the air outside your home. The Compressor. This function of the compressor is to pump the refrigerant used within the evaporator and the condenser through the system. The Fan. This helps dissipate the heat from the condenser coils out into the outside air. The Filter. The filter removes particulates from the air and helps improve your indoor air quality. This is especially important if you suffer from allergies or chronic health conditions. The Thermostat. This is the control system of the unit and helps regulate the amount of air that needs to be cooled by determining run time based on the set point temperature you have selected.   All of these air conditioning components work together to keep your home cool and comfortable. When any one of these malfunction, your system will cease to operate efficiently. In fact, if your evaporator, condenser, or compressor stop functioning, the system won’t be able to cool the air at all.

Explore the Benefits of Ductless Mini-Split

March 25, 2016
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april3     As the weather warms up, we guarantee that you’ll appreciate the many benefits of ductless mini-split air conditioners. If you’re tired of cooking beneath the summer sun, keep the following in mind as you consider these air conditioners and ways they can keep your utility bills down.   One benefit of ductless mini-splits is their small size and flexibility for heating and cooling individual rooms. Many models can have as many as four indoor air handling units connected to one outdoor unit. This enables them to cover more zones” than traditional air conditioners.   Because these systems are ductless, they avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork of central forced air systems. The duct losses in many central air systems account for more than 30 percent of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space, such as uninhabited rooms like the attic.   As you consider your options, remember to select a unit that is adequate in size for your cooling needs. Small rooms require 5-6,000 BTU units to cool, while larger rooms may require a unit in the 10,000 to 12,500 range. Thus, you should review this information carefully before you make your purchase.   These ductless air conditioners are effective but require professionals to complete the installation. Fortunately, our team is trained and qualified to handle complex jobs, including this system’s installation.      

10 Must – Know Tips for your AC

March 25, 2016
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apr2 During the summer, air conditioning can cause really high electric bills, and I would hate to think that you might be spending more money on electricity than you have to. If you have central air conditioning, here are 10 ways that you can take care of your air conditioner to keep it running efficiently, which will save you money. (These tips are written with the non-mechanic in mind, so you can do them.)  
  1. Change your air filter every 3 months. Changing the air filter is as important for your air conditioner as changing the oil is for your car. Put in a new filter at the start of summer, and then at least once every 3 months after that. If you live where it is windy or there is construction, or if you have allergies, you might need to change it more often.
 When you replace the air filter, there’s an arrow on the side that indicates which direction to place the air filter. The arrow shows the way the air flows through the filter into the unit.
  1. Buy pleated filters. Spend a couple of dollars more to buy pleated synthetic filters, not the cheapest fiberglass filters. To get a good filter for a good price, Doug recommends the True Blue pleated air filters at Home Depot with a Filter Performance Rating (FPR) of 5. (He thinks the filters he saw at Lowe’s are overpriced.)
  1. Check to see if your air conditioner is cooling efficiently. You can measure if your air conditioner is working the way it’s supposed to by comparing the temperature of the air blowing out of the vent to the temperature of the air going back into the return air vent. There should be 15 to 18 degrees (F) difference between the two temperatures. A higher difference might indicate an issue such as a clogged air filter. A lower difference could mean a problem like your AC is low on Freon. Either way, it’s using a lot of extra electricity when it’s not running efficiently, and it’s time for maintenance.
  1. Set your thermostat at a normal temperature. Don’t turn your thermostat all the way down. That won’t help your house cool down faster; it will just make your AC work longer.
  1. Protect your ducts. If you’re doing home renovations and knocking down walls like we did, tape temporary air filters over the return air vents on the wall. This will prevent dust from getting into your ductwork. (The filters in the photo above are the cheap fiberglass air filters, not the kind you should buy for your unit, but they were fine for this.)
  1. Check your ductwork for leaks. You don’t want all the cold air to leak out into your attic, so check to see if you notice any holes where air escapes. There are two common types of ductwork: flexible ducts and rigid metal ducts. Flexible ductwork is often used because it’s faster to install, but it doesnt last as long. Metal ductwork lasts longer. If you have holes or leaks in your flexible duct, it’s time to replace it. If you have a leak in metal ductwork, you can seal it with…can you guess? Duct tape. (Yes, that is why it’s called duct tape.)
  1. Insulate your ductwork. Ducts usually run through the attic, and it gets hot up there. It’s worth investing money in an extra wrap of insulation around the ducts. Get the insulation wrap that is backed with foil, not plastic, because the plastic breaks down over time.
  1. Clean your outside unit annually. Dirt and debris build up on your outside unit (the condenser), which blocks airflow and makes your air conditioner work harder. Once a year you want to wash off the debris; first turn off the power, and then you can use a garden hose. Gently rinse it so the water cleans between the thin metal fins on the condenser. (You don’t want to spray against the fins because they can bend easily.)
  1. Secure your outside unit. Your outside unit is a target for theft. It’s not that they want the air conditioner itself, but the copper inside is valuable and can be sold as scrap metal. Keep your unit out of view with hedges or a fence that will also provide shade for high efficiency, but take care not to block the airflow. You can also bolt it down to the concrete base.
  1. Collect free water. Air conditioners create a lot of condensate from the air, and that water drips out of your house from the condensate line. During the summer months, our air conditioner puts out over five gallons of clean water from the air every day. Set a water barrel on the side of your house under the condensate line to catch the drips, and use that to water your landscape.

What’s a Seer

March 25, 2016
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SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

Every system (composed of an outdoor compressor bearing unit that matches with an indoor unit) is evaluated and then given an Energy Efficiency Rating. This is a lot like the miles per gallon rating that your car gets, but instead of gasoline it is a number that is used to calculate your energy savings.  The more cooling/heating a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes, the higher rating it will receive. The higher the efficiency rating of your system, the less energy it will consume…that means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment.

So shouldn’t I just go with a higher SEER value?

At first glance you would think that the higher the SEER value the better, however that’s not always the case.  You will definitely be saving more energy when operating a higher SEER system, but you might not be saving money overall.  Typically, the higher the SEER value the higher the cost of the system (all other things being the same).   There are really two determining factors for you when choosing the SEER value for your system:  the length of time you plan on being in your home and your preference to be environmentally friendly.  If you have the conviction to be as green as possible no matter what the cost is then you want to go with as high of a SEER value as possible.  We wish everyone could choose this option.  However, the reality is most people want to be environmentally friendly but must also live within a budget.  The good news is that as technology advances our heating and cooling will require less and less energy.

So how do I determine which SEER value is for me?

The determining factor in finding the right SEER value for your  HVAC system is how long you plan on living in your current house.  Follow along with this example to understand this better:

The minimum SEER value allowed is 13.  That will serve as our base.  Here are the annual operational costs of an average family for various SEER levels. These values will change depending on a number of factors including your utility company and how high or low you keep your indoor temperature among other things.

13 SEER = $805.00

14 SEER = $747.50

16 SEER = $632.50

23 SEER = $448.50

Now at first glance it looks like a no-brainer.  The 23 SEER system costs nearly half as much to operate as the 13 SEER system.  However, the 23 SEER also costs significantly more (sometimes twice as much) as the 13 SEER system.  So lets just say for the sake of the example that a 13 SEER system costs $4000 and a 23 SEER system costs $8000.  You would need to be living in your home for over 11 years before you began to save money on that system.   So if you are planning on living in your current home long-term then this would be a great investment for you, especially on year 11 when you start saving almost $400 a year!  However, if you are living in a starter home and plan on moving in a few years, while a higher SEER system will add value to your home for resale, you might want to consider a lesser SEER value for upfront savings. Call Priority Design today to find out more  at (210) 492-4426 


Heating Secrets From An HVAC Genius

January 27, 2014
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How to Maintain Your Machine

January 27, 2014
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There are many ways that Priority Design & Service can assist you with your a/c and heating needs. Don't hesitate to call us, day or night! There is no reason to be left out heating needs. Don't hesitate to call us, day or night! There is no reason to be left out nance for your air conditioning and/or heating system. We will always take your call and will be there to help you out in a jiffy!.

“Don’t Be Chilly, Silly!”

November 30, -0001
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There are many ways that Priority Design & Service can assist you with your a/c and heating needs. Don't hesitate to call us, day or night! There is no reason to be left out heating needs. Don't hesitate to call us, day or night! There is no reason to be left out nance for your air conditioning and/or heating system. We will always take your call and will be there to help you out in a jiffy!. < Read More >