Dealing With The Cost of Your Homes Cold Air
The cost of keeping cool is on the rise. Energy prices, at historic levels last year, continue to climb as global demand for energy increases and the country recovers from hurricane-related disruptions to domestic oil and natural gas production.
Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) manufacturers are responding to the challenges of increased energy costs by offering homeowners air-conditioning units that deliver new energy efficiency standards and reduce your energy usage. For example, York, a Johnson Controls Company, encourages consumers in search of an energy-efficient HVAC system to consider the York Affinity™ series of air conditioners.
The innovative scroll compressor technology in the Affinity series offers energy-saving efficiency in units with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 13.
The 15 SEER model has an even higher-performing scroll compressor featuring a two-stage design. This means when the air conditioner senses the need for maximum cooling, the compressor automatically shifts into two-stage operation. And as the demand for cooling decreases, the compressor automatically reduces to a single-stage operation, requiring substantially less energy. In fact, this unit is as much as 60 percent more efficient than a traditional air-conditioning unit.
The two-stage design also contributes to unusually quiet operation. The unit can reach as low as 71 decibels (dB). This is much quieter than a typical hair dryer, which operates in the range of 76dB. For every three decibels quieter, perceived sound is cut by 50 percent.
Humidity control also increases with the two-stage design, air circulation improves and hot and cold spots disappear.
The York Affinity unit comes in a choice of seven colors or up to 77 different college logo panels to complement your home, landscaping and lifestyle.
There are additional ways you can keep your utility bills down:
• Make sure your indoor furnace or air handler filter is clean and free from debris, which could obstruct airflow and place a strain on your system, causing it to work harder and use more energy.
• Seal any air leaks, such as those near doors and windows and places where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring goes through exterior walls.
• Make sure your home is properly insulated, including the hot water heater and hot water pipes, the attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl space.
Dealing with the Cost of Your Homes Warm / Hot Air
Proper furnace care and smart purchases can help you reduce the high costs of heating your home. That’s good news considering that energy bills-which are already historically high-are expected to continue to climb. In fact, a recent article in USA Today reported that homeowners on average will see a 25.7 percent increase in heating costs compared to a year ago.
To reduce heating costs, experts say that the energy efficiency of your furnace is extremely important. According to Jim Miller of Amana brand furnaces, “Homeowners don’t have much control over the price of natural gas, but they can take steps to minimize the impact of home heating costs.” He offers these tips:
1. Have Your Furnace Checked. “If you haven’t already done so this year, have a licensed HVAC contractor inspect your furnace now,” Miller emphasized. “He can perform a safety inspection and clean your furnace so that it runs as efficiently as possible.”
2. When Buying a New Furnace, Choose High-Efficiency. A furnace’s efficiency is indicated by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency percentage, or “AFUE,” a measurement developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. The higher a furnace’s AFUE, the more efficient it is. “Furnaces older than 15 years operate at efficiencies of approximately 60% AFUE. This means that for every dollar spent on heating costs, only 60 cents actually helps warm your home, while the remaining 40 cents is wasted.
“If you were to replace that 60% AFUE furnace with a high-efficiency unit, such as the Amana brand AMV9 96% AFUE Variable-Speed Furnace, you would get 96 cents worth of warmth for every dollar you spend toward heating your home,” said Miller.
He added that furnaces with a variable-speed blower are even more efficient because the blowers typically require up to 75 percent less electricity than a standard motor. In addition, a furnace’s blower also works with the home’s cooling system, meaning consumers experience increased efficiency year-round.
3. Investigate Tax Credits for High-Efficiency Furnace Purchases. Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), homeowners who purchase furnaces with an AFUE of 95% or higher in 2006 and 2007 may qualify for a tax credit of $150. And if that furnace uses a variable-speed blower, they may qualify for an additional $50 tax credit.
The Importance of Cooled Air
Since air is a necessary resource for every human being, clean air is a great way to keep a body healthy and happy. Although all of the air that a person is exposed to may not be able to be cleaned, the air inside a home or building can be regulated to ensure it is of top quality with air filters. Contaminated indoor air can contain many toxins such as dust, dirt and pollen. These contaminants can easily go undetected in indoor air but can cause symptoms in people such as the outbreak of an allergic or asthmatic reaction. Even many people who don’t feel that they suffer from a respiratory condition can feel the affects or symptoms from contaminated air such as sneezing, coughing or an irritated throat. Since chemicals, gases, odors and contaminants can easily become airborne and cause these symptoms, air filters are a great way to eliminate these toxins from the air before they can cause any harm.
Indoor air is re-circulated throughout a home or building with the HVAC system. If this air is contaminated with bacteria or other toxins, these contaminants have no way to escape because the home or building is generally sealed off with windows and doors. If an air filter is used to remove these particles, however, the cycle and circulation of these impurities is stopped dead in its tracks. Since only clean and toxin-free air is released from the air filters, this is the only type of air that is now in the home or building.
There are many places that need the efficiency of air filters in order to keep their employees or other people present safe and healthy. In some manufacturing plants or other production companies, chemicals are used in the process of producing a product or good. The constant exposure to these chemicals can cause instant symptoms such as sneezing or coughing and can sometimes lead to long term side effects such as respiratory problems. In order to keep their employees and workers healthy, many of these employers have turned to air filters to remove these dangerous chemicals from the air. The air released from the air filters is cleaned of these chemicals or gaseous materials and is completely safe for the workers to breathe in.
Many offices and homeowners with children are also finding how important clean air can be to their health. With air filters removing and destroying many of the airborne bacteria and viruses that may circulate throughout an office building or a home, sickness and illness such as flues or colds are less present. Many office owners have found their employees no longer spread viruses from one person to another. Homeowners have also found that with the help of air filters, their children no longer pass colds and sicknesses to one another, causing the whole household to eventually catch the bug.
With the use of air filters to remove these hazardous chemicals, bacteria, viruses, dust, dirt and pollen, the air that is left to breathe in is clean and free of particles. Clean air brings on good health and less sickness, which is worthwhile for homeowners, employers and office owners alike.
Living in the Middle – Comfort Meets Savings
It’s easy to take modern indoor heating and cooling systems for granted. But the reality is these units keep us comfortable and happy all year long. That’s why National Indoor Comfort Week, April 23 to 29, has been set aside to recognize heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors and the critical work they perform to ensure our home and work environments are comfortable.
The most important part of preparing your home’s cooling system for warm weather may be selecting a qualified contractor who is trained to maintain, repair and/or replace the components of your system.
To help you select a dealer who is certified in Heating and Air Conditioning, and who can professionally service your cooling system, the experts at Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning, a brand of the Unitary Products Group of York-a Johnson Controls Company-offer these suggestions:
• Educate yourself about HVAC systems. You can find this information in online resources and dealer and manufacturer Web sites. Understanding the basics can help you when interviewing a potential contractor.
• Ask friends, co-workers, real estate agents and home improvement specialists for recommendations. Advertisements can also direct you to a contractor.
• When interviewing a potential dealer, check for membership in professional organizations, such as NATE (North American Technician Excellence) and ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America).
• Ask to see state and local licenses, certification for refrigerant handling, and proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Be certain these documents apply to the contractor, as well as any technicians or subcontractors the contractor employs.
• Research the range of services a contractor offers. Does the list include scheduled maintenance, repairs and 24-hour service?
• Consider the number of years a contractor has been in business. In many cases, a reputation for quality, reliability and dependability grows with the length of service to a community.
A good HVAC contractor will visit your home to conduct an on-site inspection and ask questions about your cooling needs and concerns, before making any equipment or service recommendations.
• Ask for and check references. Consider them in conjunction with other information you have gathered in your research.
By following these simple suggestions, you will most likely find the contractor who best meets your needs, both in terms of technical expertise and professional integrity.