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5 Ways to Maintain Your HVAC Health

5 Ways to Maintain Your HVAC Health

As we move from the milder months into the cold season, our HVAC system is once again going to be working hard to keep our home cozy and warm. No time is better than the present to take stock of your heating system’s health. 

Our HVAC systems are essential to the air quality and comfort of our homes. It is worthwhile investing some time and money for maximum comfort, energy efficiency, and operating lifespan. 

Here are six easy ways you can help maintain the health of your HVAC system.

1. Inspect or Replace Filters 

It is ideal to change your filter every three months to avoid build-up of dust and degradation of air quality. It will also maintain energy efficiency and extend the life of your system.

Refer to your owner’s manual to see what kind of filter your HVAC uses before you buy a replacement. It should be reasonably straightforward to remove the old filter and install the new one. If you encounter any issues, consult your local HVAC specialists at TemperaturePro Charleston.

2. Clean and Remove Debris

Dust and Debris don’t just settle in the filters, but also blowers, moving parts and condensing units. While some build-up of dust is natural, debris can damage the operation of the system and is particularly relevant for outdoor units where leaves and dirt can collect on the top and sides of the unit. 

Clear any debris and dust that is blocking the airflow of the system. You can use tools such as a vacuum cleaner, stiff-bristled brush, cleaning cloths, and gloves. Ensure that you turn off the power connected to the system to avoid injury.

3. Check for Foliage Buildup 

Fall is a prime time for falling leaves to cause issues for your HVAC. If leaves and foliage get into your HVAC system, they can affect the compressor and make your system run less efficiently. 

While removing debris on a regular basis is helpful, you should also frequently ensure that your outside unit has clearance of two feet on each side, since it will prevent cluttering your compressor that can lead to HVAC wear and tear and suboptimal indoor temperatures. 

4. Beware of Ice

Ice can form on HVAC units in all climates and conditions. Therefore, it is advised to be alert to a build-up of ice all year round. Ice buildup can be an indication of poor HVAC health. 

It is advised that you call a professional if you notice a build-up of ice. To avoid damage to your HVAC unit while awaiting service, turn off your unit, and do not attempt to scrape the ice off yourself.

5. Arrange Bi-Annual Services

No matter the kind of HVAC unit you have, you should arrange it to be serviced twice a year, and it would ideally happen in Fall for your heating system, and in the Spring for your cooling system. The experts are best placed to provide a comprehensive health check and identify any underlying maintenance issues. 

With a little care and attention, you can keep your Charleston heating and cooling systems purring along at their optimum efficiency throughout the seasons. If you do not feel confident about your HVAC health, consult the specialists at TemperaturePro Charleston.

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Replacing Your Air Conditioning in Your Charleston Home or Office

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Replacing Your Air Conditioning in Your Charleston Home or Office

For many people, air conditioning is an essential part of their homes and offices. It can ensure that your house/office is always kept in a pleasant condition. However, over time, the air conditioning unit can break down and require replacement. Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes that people make when replacing air conditioning and how you can avoid them. 

1. Waiting Too Long Before You Replace It

Being stuck in the middle of summer without a working air conditioner can be highly unpleasant, especially if you have leather sofas. By spotting signs that your air conditioner might need to be repaired early, you will be able to prevent this situation. It will also allow you to make the transition as smoothly as possible, so you experience the least amount of discomfort possible.  Keep an eye out for it constantly running and the temperature inside staying above what it’s set at. These can be indicators it is failing.

2. Choosing the Wrong Replacement Company

There are multiple Charleston SC air conditioning replacement companies available. If you select the wrong one, you might end up paying too much for unsatisfactory service. Take some time to research the different options in your area. Look at the online reviews that can compare prices. Choosing the best company will ensure that your air conditioner will last for a long time. It will also ensure that you have a great experience dealing with this company.  In the end choose a brand you know and trust.

3. Not Using the Air Conditioner Correctly

When using the air conditioner, you should close the windows; this will allow the machine to work more efficiently. When you don’t do this, the appliance needs to work harder to heat or cool your home. This additional strain can cause the machine to break down more frequently. So, something as simple as closing the door can help you save money on repairs and keep you comfortable. 

4. Not Performing Regular Maintenance

Once you’ve installed a new air conditioner, you should perform regular maintenance activities, which will keep it working optimally and extend its lifespan. There are a few simple things that you can do yourself, like cleaning out the air filters, which often get clogged with dust. However, the thought of opening the air conditioner and trying to figure out each component can be overwhelming. For this reason, you might also want to consult with a professional company. They will be able to inspect and maintain your air conditioner for you; this will let you spot problems early when they are only small issues. This simple service will save you a lot of money in the long term. 

Air conditioning is one of the essential parts of the home and office. You can use this machine to keep the house at a pleasant temperature, year-round. However, sometimes air conditioners can break down, leaving you exposed to the unpleasant temperature extremes. Thankfully, at TemperaturePro Charleston, we have the skills to get it working again. We’ve discussed four of the biggest mistakes that people make during this process. So, avoid these errors when replacing your air conditioner.

6 Factors in Choosing a Heating/Cooling System Replacement

6 Factors in Choosing a Heating/Cooling System Replacement

Choosing a heating/cooling system replacement is an investment in the future. The combined average service life of a furnace and central air conditioner is over 15 years. So, whatever choice you make now, you’ll be living with the results for some time to come. This includes the heating or cooling performance of the system, which has a definite impact on your day in, day out household comfort. The new unit’s energy efficiency will also directly affect the operating costs you’ll be paying every month for many seasons to come. The conclusion is clear: for optimum comfort and lowest monthly expenses, making an informed choice pays off now and years from now.

Here are six important factors that should be part of the decision-making process when choosing a heating/cooling system:

  • Get The Right Size. We’re not talking about feet and inches. In HVAC terms, “sizing” refers to the BTU capacity of a specific unit. For a furnace, it’s the BTUs of heat per hour the unit can generate. For an air conditioner, it’s the BTUs of heat the unit can extract from indoor air per hour. Each house has very individualized BTU requirements depending on factors such as square footage, the number of windows, the amount and type of insulation and other characteristics such as the air-tightness of the structure. Guesstimates or “rule-of-thumb” generalities aren’t accurate enough to properly size a unit. Utilizing industry-standard sizing software, a qualified HVAC technician can perform a sizing survey to determine the precise BTU requirements of the house, then identify a heating/cooling system with the capacity specs that match these requirements. Getting sizing right is a critical first step: oversized and undersized units waste energy, cost more to operate and tend to provide disappointing comfort performance you’ll be stuck with as long as the system is installed in the house.
  • What About Efficiency? Energy efficiency is built-in to a furnace or air conditioner. Manufacturers are required to determine energy efficiency of a unit by standardized lab tests. A unit’s energy efficiency rating is shown on the yellow EnergyGuide sticker affixed to all new units. For an air conditioner, efficiency is expressed by the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The higher the SEER numeral, the more energy-efficient the unit is and the lower monthly operating costs will be. Today, federal regulations require a minimum SEER of 13 or 14, depending on which region of the country you live in. High-efficiency air conditioners deliver SEER ratings over 20 at a higher upfront purchase price. Furnace efficiency is expressed by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the unit. Standard efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of 80% while more expensive high-efficiency units that capture spare heat from the exhaust stream offer AFUE over 90%.
  • Consider Short Term And Long Term. It’s important to strike a balance between initial expense and future costs. Be cautious about considering only the upfront purchase price when selecting an HVAC system. A lower-efficiency unit from a lesser-known manufacturer may indeed have a lower sticker price. However, higher monthly operating costs year after year will erase that saving and expenses imposed by reduced reliability and more frequent repairs may add up, too. Often, cut-rate units don’t offer warranty terms that are as consumer-friendly as units from recognized, name-brand manufacturers, either. On the other hand, an advanced unit with cutting edge, very high-efficiency technology may come with such a high initial price tag that the payback time from lower operating costs may be unacceptably long for you—particularly if you aren’t planning to remain in the home indefinitely.
  • Replace Both Sides Of A Central AC. A central air conditioner consists of an indoor air handler/evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser/compressor unit. Don’t attempt to save money by replacing only one half of the system or the other. All parts of a central AC are designed and engineered at the factory to operate as a matched set. Attempting to mix brand new components with old parts of the existing system will result in reduced efficiency, higher monthly expenses and, usually, shorter expected service life of the entire system, too.
  • Get A Professional Installation. Proper installation of a new HVAC unit will affect the performance and efficiency of the unit for as long as it’s in the house. Installing a central air conditioner or furnace isn’t a job for a general carpenter or a local “jack-of-all-trades” handyman. It requires specific training and expertise as well as specialized tools. An unprofessional installation that doesn’t meet industry standards can negate all the improvements in monthly expenses and household comfort you expect and deserve from a new HVAC system. Make sure it’s installed by a qualified HVAC contractor with proper certification.
  • Evaluate Other Household Factors. Certain other issues in a home will directly affect the performance and efficiency of your new HVAC system. For example, it’s false economy to connect a brand new HVAC system incorporating the latest technology to old, deteriorating household ductwork. You will lose a large volume of conditioned air through duct leakage before it even reaches the rooms it’s supposed to cool or heat. Have the ductwork tested for leaks at the time the HVAC system is installed (in many areas, local codes now require this.) If the leakage rate exceeds standards, your HVAC contractor can present options to seal the ductwork. Similarly, if you haven’t upgraded the insulation in your home in many years, it’s probably under-insulated by today’s standards. To make sure you get the full efficiency and performance improvements your new HVAC system is designed to deliver, check the level of attic insulation and upgrade if necessary to meet current Department of Energy recommendations for your local climate zone.

For professional assistance in selecting a new HVAC system, as well as qualified installation that meets industry standards, contact the heating and cooling experts at TemperaturePro by contacting us today!

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Thermostats

Everything You Need to Know About Smart Thermostats

When programmable thermostats hit the market around 20 years ago, homeowners who installed them realized energy savings. Their only effort was to program the thermostat to match their occupancy patterns. Anyone coming home unexpectedly had to really override the thermostat, which if entered wrong, could wipe out energy savings entirely.

As Wi-Fi apps proliferated, HVAC engineers realized they could combine the best that programmable thermostats offered with this smart technology. Since then, smart thermostats give homeowners the same energy savings, without the learning curve for both saving energy and staying comfortable.

The technology embedded in smart thermostats now gives you control of your home’s HVAC system from anywhere you have an internet signal. In addition to energy savings, you also get complete control over your home’s comfort system. By choosing the right thermostat and apps, you’ll also get detailed insight into your system’s performance.

Energy Savings

Unlike the learning curve associated with programmable thermostats, smart devices are able to teach themselves. Once placed, the thermostat takes a few days to learn your thermal preferences and occupancy patterns. Sensor technology simplifies changing the temperatures for unexpected occupancy.

If your electric provider uses smart technology, you’ll be able to track your energy use on an hourly basis anytime, anywhere. You can see the relationship between outdoor temperatures and your HVAC system’s energy usage.

The data you access will show you when your HVAC system runs the most. If those time periods occur when your home isn’t occupied, you can change the indoor temperature wherever you are with ease. Reducing the amount of work your HVAC system does also reduces the wear and tear, which lowers the cost of repairs and increases its lifetime.

Many utility companies also offer incentives for you to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Their representatives can help you find a time-of-use plan (TOU) that can save money on your electric bill. Electric providers base their pricing on peak and nonpeak hours. These plans encourage users to use more energy during off-peak hours when the utility company pays less for it. When demand is high, you pay considerably more for each kilowatt you use. Switching to a TOU plan could significantly lower your monthly energy bill.

Integration with Smart Home Systems

Some smart thermostats are compatible with devices like Amazon’s Echo. You can ask Alexa to change the temperature from anywhere in your home, whether it’s in the kitchen as you cook, or from the bedroom on a cold, winter night.

Thermostats that work with smart home hubs can coordinate opening your garage door or exterior doors and changing the temperatures at the same time. This feature works especially well in a well-insulated and leak-free home, since they take less time to heat or cool.

Improved Comfort

Many models of smart thermostats offer remote sensors you can place in all your rooms. Most homes have one thermostat typically placed in a hallway. The temperatures throughout your home will vary considerably because sometimes their thermal loads differ from the conditions in the hall.

When you put a remote sensor in a room and it’s uncomfortable to you, you can set the thermostat to cool or heat the air to whatever temperature you want. Unless you have a zoned HVAC system in your home, this ability can raise your energy costs, but it will increase your comfort and give you control over the thermal conditions in the particular room you’re in.

Learning Curves with Smart Thermostats

Unlike programmable thermostats, smart devices learn your habits in just a few days, which eliminates the need to program them based on home occupancy patterns. The Nest, for example, uses a sensor that detects when your home is empty and when it’s occupied. It uses those data to establish the temperature setbacks that save energy.

Sensors on smart thermostats have simplified programming. They can tell when your home is empty, and set the temperature back automatically. Should someone come home unexpectedly, the sensor will turn the system back on.

These thermostats also give you the ability to override any settings the current home occupant has specified from anywhere. You can also find thermostats that are password protected, which gives just the people you choose permission to alter temperature settings.

Major Brands
  • The first smart thermostat on the market was the Nest, which is still a market leader. It has a user-friendly interface and is compatible with most HVAC systems.
  • The Ecobee is another major brand which has features that are similar to the Nest.
  • Honeywell, one of the nation’s oldest companies, also offers a smart thermostat at half the price of either the Nest or Ecobee without sacrificing any features. Other smart thermostat brands are available and a professional from TemperaturePro can help you choose which would work best for your home.
System Compatibility

You may have to do some research to determine whether your HVAC system is compatible with specific types and brands of smart thermostats. Newer systems generally have greater cross-compatibility than older units.

Thermostat wiring is normally the limiting factor with regard to compatibility. An expert from TemperaturePro will help you discover which thermostats will work. Installing a device that’s not electrically compatible could really damage your HVAC system’s control board.

Some manufacturers offer proprietary smart thermostats, and the advantages to these lie in their ability to report to you specifically how the system is operating. You’ll receive alerts about when it needs professional maintenance, if a component isn’t functioning at full capacity, or even when to change the air filter.

Heat Pumps Are Special

During the summer, heat pumps work just like air conditioners, but that all changes in the winter when they switch to heat. Most heat pumps use an auxiliary heating coil to provide emergency back-up heat. This coil uses electricity to supply heat whenever the heat pump can’t warm your home adequately within any given period of time.

Electricity alone is the least efficient way to provide home heat, and unless your thermostat knows how to shut off the emergency heat setting, the cost of heating your home will really go up.

When you choose a smart thermostat, be sure that it has the capacity to override the emergency setting. The technical term is an intelligent or adaptive recovery thermostat. You may also see the term “balance point” used with some compatible smart thermostats. Your TemperaturePro technician will know the best brands and types of thermostats to use with a heat pump to maximize savings in the heating mode.

Bottom Line

You don’t necessarily need a smart phone to enjoy the benefits of a smart thermostat, and they are many, like energy savings, convenience, control and comfort. The technicians from TemperaturePro can help you select the most suitable for your HVAC system, lifestyle, and your energy saving goals. Contact us today!

 

Everything You Need to Know About SEER Ratings

Everything You Need to Know About SEER Ratings

Do you know which air conditioner is best for you? How could you? With so many different brands, sizes, and other options, making that decision can be very overwhelming for many people. If you’re just trying to find which AC is the most efficient or which one will save you the most money, you should look into SEER ratings.

What Does SEER Mean?

SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is a metric used to determine how efficient a given AC unit is. It is a ratio that measures how much cool air is created for each unit of electricity used. Thus, the higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. Most importantly, the more efficient the unit is, the more money you can potentially save in long-term energy costs!

SEER ratings are a critical factor to understand when choosing a new unit and can help you save hundreds of dollars. If you are a proponent of going green and helping the environment, a high SEER unit reduces waste and emissions compared to a lower SEER unit. However, the higher SEER rated units are more expensive, so it’s important to consider your unique needs and goals.

A simple way to help you understand SEER ratings is to think about the Miles Per Gallon (MPG) your car gets. You can buy a car with high MPG, but depending on how you drive and terrain, it will vary in efficiency. The same is true with a high ranking SEER AC unit. It is important to understand that efficient habits will improve any system’s performance.

Modern AC heater unit outdoors

The Bottom Line

All said, SEER ratings are important when considering long term efficiency and environmental impact for your unit. Higher SEER units will be more efficient but more expensive. Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice and your values for your home and family. We recommend exploring many different options when it comes to finding a new unit. Make sure to call your local TemperaturePro with any questions!

5 Things To Do When Your AC Goes Out

5 Things To Do When Your AC Goes Out

You can clearly see the temperature rising every day this summer, it’s time to check on your AC to make sure you’re prepared for the heat. Air conditioners can be a little unreliable at times, but the best thing you can do it keep it clean and well maintained so it doesn’t fail on you. Here are 5 tips to ensure that your AC works great throughout the rest of the summer!

Thermostat unit with an error
  1. Check Your Air Filter

Your air filter is your first line of defense from hot, dusty air. It’s vital to keep your air filter clean and regularly changed to keep the clean, cool air throughout your system. If your filter is clogged or dirty, air flow will be restricted and cause your AC to malfunction. Studies have shown that a dirty air filter can reduce AC efficiency by nearly 10%!

  1. Check Thermostat Batteries

Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that are often overlooked. Replacing your batteries might be the only thing you need to fix!

  1. Check The Circuit Breaker

It’s common for circuits to get tripped or messed up, so this can be an easy fix if you know what to look for. Simply find you circuit breaker in the breaker box and flip the switch in the opposite position. If you don’t notice any changes you might need to call an electrician as this would be a much more serious issue.

  1. Check The Coil On The Outside Of Your Machine

Although sometimes hidden, a clean condenser coil is key to an efficiently running AC unit. If covered by debris such as leaves and grass take a hose and gently spray it off! This coil is just another example of how important maintenance is for any AC unit.

  1. Call Your Local TemperaturePro!

Your local TemperaturePro technicians are always prepared to give you a hand with speedy and affordable service. We take pride in our service and hope to keep our customers cool and comfortable this Summer!

5 Ways Great AC Can Improve Your Life

5 Ways Great AC Can Improve Your Life

  1. No more sweat stains!

 Yes we know, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that air conditioning makes you sweat less. Climate control has saved millions from embarrassing sweat stains and uncomfortable clingy clothes. But how annoying can sweat really be? Well, deodorant producer Sweat Block sites that the average human sweats about 278 GALLONS each year and over 360 million people worldwide suffer from overactive sweat glands. That’s A LOT of sweat! I wonder how much more  it would be without AC… Let’s not find out!

 

  1. Clear your skin!

Fashion trends change every year but tend to have one thing in common – clear and healthy skin. People spend hundreds on creams, serums, and other expensive concoctions, but ignore other factors that could be negatively affecting their skin! By choosing the wrong AC system, you put yourself at risk of living in a moisture-free environment. This leads to dry air, which can worsen conditions like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis. Even if you do not suffer from any of these conditions, dry air can send the skin’s natural balance out of whack, causing it to itch and flake. The good news is that even though this problem is hard to detect, it is easy to fix! Consider using a humidifier to improve the indoor air quality of your home and ultimately improve the quality of your skin!

 

  1. Increases productivity

Do you know that feeling when it’s so hot that all you want to do is lie down and not move… at all? Yeah, we know that feeling, too. A study conducted by the Helsinki University of Technology found that productivity increases between the climate controlled temperatures of 69.8 and 71.6 degrees fahrenheit. More so, AC can actually save you MONEY! A Cornell study by professor Alan Hedge found that a more comfortable thermal zone saves employers about $2 per worker, per hour. That’s savings of $800 a week for a company of only 10 employees! Well, there you have it…  AC can increase productivity AND save you money!

 

  1. Reduce unwanted bugs

Summertime means heat, and with that heat comes bugs. And we don’t like bugs. We’re guessing you don’t either, especially when they are sneaking into your home like James Bond on his tippy toes. Good news is, you can use your AC unit as your own personal bug destroying infantry! Creepy crawlies tend to be attracted to warm and moist climates. Keeping your AC unit set to 77 degrees or below can repel roaches and other pesky insects from your home. In addition, one of the simplest ways to keep bugs out is to keep windows and doors shut. Make sure you are comfortable with your AC so there is no chance of insects creeping in. With these easy tips, you should be well on your way to keeping bugs out of your home… and that’s definitely a good thing!

 

  1. Clean air

*Breathe in. Breathe out.* Chances are that if you are reading this in the comfort of your own air-conditioned home you just inhaled some premium, good ‘ol fashioned O₂. Good stuff, right? Well, there’s lots more where that came from – especially if you have an air scrubber with your AC unit. These powerful machines take all the pollen and pollutants out of the air to ensure you are breathing safe, clean air. Temperature is all-important when dealing with an AC system, but indoor air quality can make or break your environment. Nobody wants to breathe in musty air, and nobody should have to! Clean air can help with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory issues, so crank the AC and breathe easy!

 

Now that you know exactly how proper air conditioning can improve your life, it is time to take a step back and evaluate your HVAC system. Does your system meet all of your needs, or is there a little left to be desired? If you are not satisfied with your current HVAC situation, call us. TemperaturePro’s experts will have you sittin’ pretty in your own home in no time!

Reduce Your Summer Cooling Costs in 6 Easy Steps

Reduce Your Summer Cooling Costs in 6 Easy Steps

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start dialing your home’s temperature down a few degrees. If you’re like us, you like to keep your air conditioning bill low; here are a few ways to keep your cooling costs as low as possible even in the peak of the summer heat!

1. Use window treatments

The sun’s rays can beat down into your home through your windows and increase your home’s internal temperature, costing you more to cool it back down. Invest in some curtains or shades to block unwanted warmth from heating up your home.

2. Utilize outdoor grills

Cooking indoors generates a lot of extra heat, cooking outdoors is a great way to keep this extra heat out of your home. So get outside and fire up the grill, summer is the best time to do this! If you wanna save even more try hand washing your dishes to avoid the extra heat output from the dishwasher. Another machine that creates additional heat is your dryer, you can avoid hiking up your cooling bills by pinning up wet laundry on a clothesline!

3. Get a programmable thermostat

When you’re out of the house or asleep you don’t need to cool your home as much as you normally would, that’s why programmable thermostats are such great tools! You can even set it to gradually cool your home before you get home instead of drastically lowering it immediately as you arrive. This is a great way to make your home more comfortable and save some money while doing it.

4. Turn on those fans!

Turning on your fans is an easy way to keep your home cool without having to raise the temperature on your thermostat. Whether it’s a ceiling fan or a standing fan, it will get the job done.

5. Properly maintain your home’s AC system

If you’re not taking care of your cooling system, you’re not maximizing energy efficiency, in fact, you’re costing yourself more money in the end. Keep up with routine maintenance and cleaning on all of your equipment (air filters, floor registers, evaporator, condenser coils, etc.) so that your home stays cool this summer without costing you a fortune! If you’re not sure if you’ve been taking proper care of your system, call us! One of our expert service techs will come out and take a look for you.

6. Seal windows and doors

Poorly sealed doors or windows can sometimes let the hot air from outdoors in, which means that your AC will have to work even harder to cool your home. Make sure that any cracks or holes are filled in or perhaps use a weatherstrip to ensure a strong seal.

Well, there you have it, six easy ways to keep your home cooler in the summer. If you’re having any trouble with your cooling system or just have a question and want an answer, give us a call! At TemperaturePro, we’re always happy to help. So stay cool & have a great summer!

Don’t Be Fooled! Let’s Decode HVAC Terminology.

Don’t Be Fooled! Let’s Decode HVAC Terminology.

Have you ever had an HVAC technician in your home and they use terms you don’t understand at all? Or you call an HVAC company to describe a problem you’re having and their response includes confusing words? What are they talking about?!

You’re not an experienced HVAC technician and you don’t have the background knowledge to understand these advanced terms. But it’s important to know what your technician is talking about when it comes to YOUR heating and cooling systems.

We are committed to making sure our customers are well-informed about HVAC systems. That’s why we wrote this blog post!

Let’s decode some HVAC terminology you hear but might not recognize or understand…

Airflow volume: the amount of air circulated in a space measured by cubic feet per minute.

Condenser: the hot side of an air conditioner or heat pump that can transfer heat to air.

Coil: performs heat transfer to air when mounted inside an air unit or ductwork.

Damper: sheet metal plates that can be opened or closed to control the flow of air into a zone.

Compressor:  A pump that increases the pressure of refrigerant gas.

Drip pan: a container for catching material that drips from above.

Freon: the cooling agent used in most air conditioning systems that actually creates cool air.

Gas heater: space heater used to heat by burning natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, propane or butane.

Electric heater: electrical energy is converted to heat.

Heating coil: part of system that allows electricity to act as fire.

Intermediate fluid: a liquid or gas used to transfer heat between two heat exchangers.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio; the rating of a unit for the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.

Congrats, you’re an expert on everything HVAC now! Ok, not really, but you know more than you did before! Now that you are familiar with these terms, you are one step closer to understanding your HVAC technician and your HVAC issues.

Share this article to keep your friends well-versed in HVAC terms!

Landscaping and HVAC: How What You Plant Can Help Your HVAC System Become More Efficient

Landscaping and HVAC: How What You Plant Can Help Your HVAC System Become More Efficient

HVAC and Landscaping are typically not considered to go hand in hand when it comes to property maintenance. This is not well known among homeowners, but having plants placed in the right place around the outdoor components of your AC can have a positive impact on your system’s performance. In addition to improving the system’s performance, good landscaping can also protect your system from anything outdoors that might disrupt or potentially damage it. Let’s see how your landscaping and HVAC systems can work together.

How Shade Trees Contribute to Efficiency

You know that shade trees keep your home cooler, just as you feel cooler when you stand under a sheltering tree out of the hot sun. But you may not understand exactly how this works in a home’s interior.

It’s a fact that planting trees so their shading canopies deflect the sun will keep your home from heating up as much as homes without tree canopies do. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that a strategically planned landscape can reduce air conditioning expenses by anywhere from 15 to 50 percent.

But that’s not all trees do. In addition to blocking the sunlight from heating the roof, trees also create a cool aura around the home. Trees pull moisture from the ground, which transpires through the leaves, slowly evaporating and cooling the air around them. This mist-laden air is sometimes six degrees or so cooler than the air further away from the trees. As you can see, you can create something of a cool zone around your home by planting trees.

Some homeowners also plant smaller shade trees to shade the condenser (that’s the outdoor component of your air conditioner). While you don’t want leaf debris and twigs falling into the unit and impairing its performance, some shade will contribute modestly to keeping the condenser cooler as it works hard on hot days.

And don’t forget shrubbery. While you’ll likely keep them trimmed below the roof line, shrubs can help keep sun from penetrating the home through windows.

Choosing the Right Plant Material

It’s important that you choose the right kinds of trees and shrubs for your landscape. If you’re a novice in these matters, you can consult with horticultural professionals from the local extension office, a botanical garden or a good plant nursery about selections for your yard. Better yet, hire a landscaping professional to help you choose and situate your trees to best advantage.

Often, native plants are the best choice. They usually thrive better, with fewer disease and pest problems, than exotic species. Whenever possible, choose drought-tolerant species so that your water bill isn’t out of sight.

Speaking of water, you will have to water generously until your new plants are established, but generally, after a couple of years, you can cut back as the roots grow deeper and can find moisture in the water table.

Here are some points to consider as you select shade trees for your home.
  • Avoid fast-growing trees such as silver maple, mulberry, chinaberry or members of the poplar family. While you’ll get shade faster with fast-growing trees, they are usually brittle and break easily. Silver maple and cottonwood also need a lot of water.
  • Rule out trees that shed. You don’t want fibers such as that from cottonwoods clogging the condenser and preventing your air conditioner from exhausting warm air properly. You may also want to avoid trees such as mulberries that could drop fruit through the protective grating over the condenser.
  • Avoid coniferous trees. Coniferous trees have leaves all year long; deciduous trees drop their leaves in the fall. You’ll want leaves gone so sunlight can reach the house in the winter when it’s colder.

It’s also important to think about how large the plants will grow. Most of us have made the mistake of underestimating the mature size of plants, in terms of how close we plant to the house or in proximity to each other.

Deciding Where Trees or Shrubs Should Go

Once you’ve determined which trees and shrubs you want to use in your landscape, you’ll need to decide where to plant them. Here are a few key rules to adhere to:

  • Don’t plant too close to the house or condenser. Trees planted next to a house can cause problems with the roof. If tree limbs start touching the roof, you’ll need to keep them trimmed back. Also, the roots of trees planted too close to the home may be a problem, undermining the home’s foundation or growing into the plumbing pipes and clogging them. A good rule of thumb is to maintain about 10 to 20 feet between the tree and the home’s exterior.
  • Shrubs obviously can be closer to the house, but do plant them so you can get into the space between the shrubs and the home to trim them. You might want to avoid planting shrubs with thorns or prickly leaves against walls or around the condenser, as you will need to clean windows, and the HVAC tech will need access to the unit.
  • When you plant shade for the condenser, make sure you allow for at least a 2-foot space between the shrubs and the unit. Plants shouldn’t interfere with air flow.
Miscellaneous Considerations

Garden structures. Aside from plants, you should also create a plan for garden structures, such as walls, tool sheds, entertainment areas, furniture and the like. It’s always best, whenever possible, to locate these structures away from the HVAC system so as not to affect air flow. If you want to erect a structure to provide some shade to the condenser or to conceal it, you might consider a trellis or arbor, where you can grow vines or climbing roses. These plants will allow air flow, while concealing the presence of the condenser in an attractive way.

Xeriscaping

If you’re into xeriscaping (the type of landscaping that uses minimal water or irrigation), you may have planned to eliminate grass and put down plastic weed barriers with gravel or pebbles on top of them. If you have these pebble- or stone-strewn landscape areas near the condenser, be sure to weed or cut any grass that grows there by hand. Using a weed whacker can propel pebbles into the condenser and may harm it.

Mowing grass

If grass grows next to the condenser, it should be dispersed away from the condenser during mowing. Grass can clog the unit and affect air intake.

Conclusion

Adding trees and shrubs to your landscape in a pleasing, well-thought-out design is a great way to enhance your property values, while also boosting the efficiency of your home by making it cooler and more comfortable. Your air conditioner will also last longer, since the parts won’t need to work so hard to reach temperature set points in the hot, hot summertime.

Furthermore, trees help reduce your carbon footprint, as large, mature trees actually help remove a significant amount of greenhouse gases: as leaves breathe, they draw the gases into the tree and deposit them into the ground through the roots.

So get going and start planting, and those trees and shrubs will be enhancing your comfort and efficiency before you know it.

For all your HVAC needs, contact TemperaturePro today!