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  • How do Your Home or Business HVAC Costs Compare to Others?

    It's sometimes difficult to determine if your building's heating and cooling costs are appropriate. The costs are dependent on multiple factors, like the type of fuel used, the square footage of the business or home and the weather in the area. The average cost for heating a 1200 square foot home in Florida is very different than heating a house of the same size in North Dakota. However, knowing if your building is above or below average can impact your decisions in upgrading, replacing or improving your HVAC system. A home that has higher than average energy costs may benefit from an upgrade to the heating and cooling systems.

    The U.S. Energy Star site provides a calculator for comparing your building's energy cost to others. To use the calculator, you'll have to provide the following:

    • Zip code
    • Building Square Footage
    • Number of full-time occupants
    • Types of fuels used in the home
    • Last 12 months of utility bills

    With this information, the Energy Star calculator is able to give insight into the efficiency of the heating and cooling in a home or business location. Other everyday utility uses, like hot water, appliances and lighting are separated. Finding 12 months worth of energy bills may require some work. However, some utilities may provide a shortcut called "Green Button." This is a file that stores your utility data. It can simply be uploaded to the Energy Star calculator in place of the 12 months of utility bills. If your utility sums the last year's worth of energy costs, that is also a good shortcut.

    The Energy Star calculator will give the building a score between 1 and 10. Lower scores imply that the home or business location could benefit from an improvement in the heating and cooling system. The calculator also provides an estimate for how much money could be saved by upgrading the heating and cooling to a level 10 (the most efficient.) For those interested in the environmental impact of their building's HVAC system, the calculator also provides a sum of how much pollution is generated. An efficient home typically generates pollution similar to what one car creates. A monthly energy use graph is also generated to show the building's energy expenditure over time.

    While there is a general rule of thumb that says to replace HVAC equipment more than 10 years old, home and business owners can get more insight into their building's efficiency through tools like the Energy Star calculator. A low score implies that the system could benefit from an upgrade. A higher score may mean that minimal improvements, like improving the ducting insulation, could be appropriate to reduce energy costs.

  • Industry HVAC Trends Increase HVAC Performance

    In March 2017, Technavio published a report highlighting technology trends in the HVAC market. Building automation and remote control of HVAC systems were identified as major market trends. The report also noted that regular maintenance and incorporation of green technologies were trends. These trends are great for businesses and consumers because more efficient monitoring and maintenance are likely to reduce the cost of running an HVAC system. Here is how to capitalize on these trends.

    Purchase a smart monitoring system

    Businesses can choose from a variety of building monitoring systems. These monitoring systems often include other major building functions, like fire suppression and security. All the functions can work together for optimal efficiency.

    Homeowners can invest in a smart thermostat, like a NEST. These monitoring devices learn how the homeowners like having the heating and cooling in each portion of the house. The program balances these needs with energy saving measures to reduce home energy bills. NEST recently received an Energy Star rating in the U.S., which demonstrates that meets federal regulations for saving energy.

    Technavio adds:

    The rise in smart infrastructure projects around the globe is propelling the demand for new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning components...

    This statement implies that HVACs will soon be joining the Internet-of-Things (IoT), smart devices controlled through the internet. HVAC components are being re-designed and optimized to work within this new system. New components, released in the near future, may work better with the IoT capability, leading to even greater cost savings.

    Complete maintenance at regular intervals

    Both homes and businesses can benefit from regular HVAC maintenance. Energy costs can be reduced by up to 40% with regular maintenance. Many homeowners and businesses owners don't take advantage of these costs savings because they wait until something is broken. While waiting till a component breaks may be simpler, it is more costly in the long-term, especially since the HVAC system may have more downtime in order to complete a major repair.

    Although many homeowners and business owners might not be surprised by the need for regular maintenance, the rise of the smart monitoring devices for HVAC systems can have huge consequences on cost. Not only do these smart monitoring devices reduce the energy bill, as they become more advanced, they could incorporate more functions. For example, a smart monitoring device could alert business owners when it was time to complete regular maintenance. By adding a smart monitoring device, HVAC systems now have the potential to add many new and practical functions.

  • How Energy Efficient Upgrades Impact your HVAC System

    Many homeowners and business owners have added energy efficient upgrades to reduce their environmental impact. Double-paned windows and high quality insulation can decrease the amount that owners spend on heating and cooling costs. These efforts are also more environmentally friendly because energy is not lost due to leaks. However, many owners don't take into consideration the impact that these improvement have on the HVAC system of the home or business.

    Energy efficient improvements change the heat load of the house. In fact, the US Department of Energy calculated how much the heat load of a 2000 square foot house in North Carolina would change with energy efficient improvements. The hypothetical house improved the insulation in the ceiling and walls, upgraded to double-paned glass, increased the window overhangs and eliminated duct leakage by moving the ducts into the conditioned space. Before the updates, the house's heat load would have been 46,100 Btu/hr by the Manual J calculation. After the updates, it would have been only 21,300 Btu/hr. The energy efficient upgrades cut the heat load in half!

    Unfortunately, many people don't realize the impact that this heat load reduction has on the HVAC system. In the original home, a 4 - 5 ton HVAC system would have been installed. This large HVAC system would have been appropriately sized for the home. However, HVACs are sized based on the heat load. Therefore, after improvements, the proper HVAC sizing would be 2 tons. If the HVAC system is not upgraded with the rest of the house, it will not be properly sized for maximum efficiency.

    The Department of Energy evaluated how much energy savings would result if the HVAC system was upgraded with the rest of the house. With a new 2 ton HVAC system, the homeowners would save 63 percent on heating energy and 53 percent on cooling energy. If the homeowners did the rest of the upgrades but did not upgrade the HVAC system, they would save 54 percent on heating and 47 percent on cooling. It does save energy to do the other upgrades, but homeowners that match the HVAC system to the current heat load gain an extra 10 percent increase in energy efficiency.

    Long lasting HVAC systems are often not included in home and business energy efficiency upgrades. However, they should be. As the heat load of the home or business changes, the HVAC system should be matched to the needs. A right-sized HVAC system could boost the energy efficiency of the home by 10 percent.

  • A Checklist for Heat Load Calculations

    To have an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system run at optimal efficiency, homeowners and business owners need to know the heat load of the building. This metric, measured in tonnage, determines which size of HVAC system to purchase. Selecting the right size system is important for efficiency. For example, over-sized systems don't properly de-humidify the air during the summer. Under-sized systems may not be able to effectively heat or cool a building. Homeowners and business owners want the right size to have efficient heating and cooling.

    The most common way to determine the heat load of a building is a Manual J calculation. A licensed HVAC contractor can complete this calculation for a fee. However, there are some online Manual J calculators that allow home and business owners to complete their own calculations. The key piece is not the calculation, however, but the inputs. Owners must know many details about the building in order to complete a Manual J calculation. The checklist below contains the inputs required to do a Manual J heat load calculation.

    Materials for Walls, Ceiling and Floors

    A heat load calculation takes into account the insulation properties of the house. For this reason, it's not enough to know that a home is “brick.” Homes with brick walls also may or may not have insulation. The insulation can be various types. The same principle applies to ceilings and floors. A building plan or an HVAC contractor may be required to find out this information.

    Window Type

    The insulating properties of windows can also vary, depending on whether the window is single or double paned. Even the frame type (usually metal, wood or vinyl) has an impact on the heat load calculation.

    Door Type

    Surprisingly, there are differences in insulation properties between wood doors. In fact, there are multiple types of wooden doors in the heat load calculation. The insulation depends on whether the door is hollow or solid. Metal doors also have drastically different heat properties.

    Ceiling and Window Height

    The ceiling height helps to determine how much air needs to be warmed or cooled. Window height also has an impact on the heat load calculation.

    Length x Width x Height of Walls, Windows and Doors

    This information helps determine the size of the home or business and how much air needs to flow through the building for proper heating and cooling.

    Orientation of the Building

    The orientation of the front door and windows can be north, south, east or west. Southern exposure tends to be warmer in the northern hemisphere, since the sun hits that surface year-round.

    With this checklist, home and business owners can begin to complete a heat load calculation. There are online resources available to assist. However, it's important to note whether the calculation assumes the house is a “block” or it asks for the inputs for “room-by-room.” Block calculations are simpler to complete, but they don't tell owners how much heating and cooling is required for each room. To properly size ductwork and maximize efficiency, a room-by-room heat load calculation is preferred.

  • Use a Heat Pump for Air Conditioning and Heating

    One way to think of a heat pump is as a reversible air conditioner, which means that one device can provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps capture heat from the outdoors and compress it. The compressed heated air is then pumped around the home or business. The heat pump doesn't actually generate heat. The principle by which heat pumps work is the same as air conditioners. However, air conditioners cycle the opposite way, expelling heat to the outdoors, instead of drawing it in. While heat pumps are typically reversible and can function as air conditioners, not all air conditioners can be reversed to function as heat pumps.

    Although heat pumps have the advantage of both cooling and heating, their functionality is limited to a moderate climate. An example of an appropriate climate for a heat pump only system would be Washington, DC. As an air conditioner, a heat pump can provide cooling air during hot temperatures. When temperatures drop below freezing though, it becomes harder for a heat pump to work as a heater. Since it functions by drawing heat from the air, it struggles to draw heat from freezing air. One solution is to add electric resistance coils to the heat pump. These coils function as a furnace and provide heat when it's too cold to draw warmth from outdoor air.

    Above freezing temperatures, heat pumps can be up to 40% more efficient than gas furnaces. Heating air requires a great deal of energy. Gas furnaces physically heat the air with a flame. However, heat pumps transition the warmth outdoors into the indoors (though compressing the air can be energy intensive). Heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces until additional electrical resistance coils need to be used to heat the air, which usually occurs around freezing temperature. At this point, the electrical or gas resistance coils are not as efficient as a gas furnace.

    If a heat pump promises to meet your heating and cooling needs, there are a few options to consider. Heat pumps come in a variety of sizes, measured in tonnage. To properly size a heat pump, home and business owners should complete a heat load calculation. This calculation takes insulation, square footage and climate factors into account and then recommends a tonnage. Heat pumps are usually electric, but some resistance coils can be gas-powered, depending on your preferences. SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating, is another way to determine the best heat pump for a home or business. Higher ratings translate to a more efficient heat pump. With these options in mind, it's easy to select the appropriate heat pump for your home or business.

  • The Differences Between Goodman and Rheem Evaporator Coils

    Evaporator Coil Differences

    An evaporator coil is one of the key components needed in order for a central operated air conditioning system to work properly. This type of coil is used to turn liquid Freon into a gas, and it actually absorbs the heat created from this process. The type of evaporator coil someone needs depends on the installation style.

    Goodman and Rheem are two of the top manufacturers for evaporator coils on the market today, but they each have their own specs for making these coils. Below is a brief description of these two companies, and to show their differences, there will be a comparison review of two evaporator coils, one from each company.

    Goodman Evaporator Coils: Goodman has been in the business of heating and air units since the early 1980s. They pride themselves on making affordable evaporator coils, but although they cost less than some of their other competitors, they are still one of the top brands. Although they do make a few types of evaporator coils, most of the evaporator coils manufactured by Goodman have a horizontal configuration. All of their products are designed for quick and easy installation, and they offer some of the best warranties on the air conditioner and heating market.

    Rheem Evaporator Coils: Rheem Manufacturing Company has been offering their well-made products since the mid-1920s. Evaporator coils are just one of the products that are manufactured by Rheem, and although their products are high priced, they offer their customers a great and long lasting product. Rheem is one of the top manufacturing companies not only because of their quality products but their world renowned customer service as well. They are known for making multi positional evaporator coils.

    Review between the Rheem RCFL-HM3617CC and the Goodman CHPF-4860D6
    Both of these products are good, but the Goodman model is considerably cheaper. However when buying products, the most expensive product isn't always better. It is best to fully compare the products fully, because some lack where others succeed.

    For instance, the Rheem model has a multi-positional configuration, while the Goodman has a horizontal configuration. This is an important aspect, because if one is replacing an evaporation coil, making sure that it fits in one's existing air condition system is essential.

    The other big difference between Rheem evaporation coils and Goodman evaporation coils are the style that they make. With these two examples, the Rheem model uses a multi-flex style, and the Goodman model uses an A-coil. Both of these manufacturers make their evaporation coils with a lot of the same specs and parts. For instance, both of them generally use a 3/8" liquid line, and they both can use the same type of refrigerant.

    However, this is where Goodman offers their customers a bit of variety. Their evaporation coils can use the same R410A refrigerant that Rheem uses, but their evaporation coils can also use the R22 refrigerant. Goodman and Rheem both value their customers. Therefore, they both offer up to a 10 year warranty on their products like the two mentioned above.

  • Choosing the Proper Insulated Flexible Duct with Metalized Jacket

    Capture

    Insulated flexible ducts with metalized jackets are used in the HVAC industry for supply air, return air, and exhaust air transport where air conditioners, heaters, and ventilation applications exist. Such ductwork maintains good air quality, comfort, and prevents costly inefficiency. The inner polyethylene tube with reinforced wire coil gives strength and keeps the air inside the tube. The thin metal jacket keeps moisture and condensation from getting on the insulation, and the flexibility allows the duct to curve if necessary. The insulation in U.S. insulated ducts is typically glass wool or fiber glass.

    The size of the fitting on the heater, AC unit, etc. will of course determine the needed duct diameter, and the length is normally cut by the installer. It is ideal to keep the distance short since a certain amount of pressure will be lost by air while it is travelling through the duct, and sharp bends and kinks also are avoided. The flexible ducts attach to the rigid sheet metal ductwork, to the AC, the heater, or have open contact with outside air.

    Each duct has an "R" rating for its insulating capacity- for example, R6 ducts do well up to 200 degrees, and has one third more insulation around it than an R4. The greater insulation, the greater efficiency, but also the more one pays for the product. Wherever relatively hot air is present in the duct, especially if traveling through space with extremely lower temperature air in it, it is most important to have a high R rating. The cold air return to a heater would not need as great an R value then as the supply duct. The opposite would be the case with a split AC unit since the hot air is traveling outside, and the cold air is moving into the building. Another possible application for a high R duct would be a clothes dyer exhaust tube.

    While the metal jacket keeps out moisture, there are also versions of metalized jackets, e.g. one line of ducts' "silver jacket" feature, that are effective in noise absorption
    as well. Clearly these would be more crucial when the duct goes through or near oft-used rooms- not so much in a little visited basement on the other hand.

    Another special flexible duct is one with a heavy black jacket of polyethylene and UV light elements built in. They are commonly referred to as mobile home ducts for their due to their increased usage for this type of construction. This duct is particularly suited for use outside, though if in a well-lighted room, it could be useful indoors as well.

    Insulated flexible ducts with metal jackets come in numerous standard sizes for different sized heater, vents, and ACs- some are even designed specifically for mobile homes. They install easy enough over round or oval fittings and can be easily cut and taped if one has the right equipment and a little experience. However, choosing the right R level for each duct and looking for special metal coatings that resist fire better or reflect light better, etc. often requires professional advice or services.

  • Capacitors – An Important Part of the Heating and Cooling Systems

    AC-Motor-Capacitor

    The idea behind capacitors was first discovered in the mid-1740s in Germany. Ewald Georg von Kleist realized that he could store an electric charge by connecting a volume of water with a high-voltage electrostatic generator. Over the course of multiple centuries, the technology for capacitors has evolved in leaps and bounds, but the concept is basically the same. Capacitors are designed to contain an electric charge, including multiple pairs of conductors, which are broken into different parts by an insulator.

    Any cooling or heating system in your house with a motor will require a capacitor to function properly. The size of the motor in your system is the determining factor of the size of your capacitor. The most widely available capacitor sizes are 10, 7.5, and 5 mfd. These sized capacitors are generally inexpensive, but usually correspond to motor failure within days after being replaced.

    The two main types of capacitors are single run capacitors and dual run capacitors. There are also start capacitors, which give the compressor an extra boost of energy when the motor starts up. Unlike start capacitors, which only give that brief boost, run capacitors work continuously while the motor is powered. Run capacitors are usually made of polypropylene film, allowing them to remain energized during prolonged periods of running.

    Single run capacitors mostly function as parts in small air conditioning units. They can be hooked up to a single motor due to their two connections. There are few disparities between dual and single run capacitors. Basically, a dual run capacitor is two run capacitors in one. Other than being vastly more powerful than single run capacitors, there is virtually no difference between the dual and single capacitor. Dual run capacitors are used in bigger AC and heat pump units. They also have three connections. When you have to replace a capacitor, knowing how many connections the previous one had will be the best way to determine whether you need a single or dual run capacitor.

    On many occasions, it might be in your best interest to bring in a professional technician with the proper tools and knowledge to determine whether or not there are issues with a capacitor. Deteriorating capacitors start to affect the motors they help operate. As it gets worse, the motor may stop working completely. Some capacitors appear swollen when they start to fail and can even burst if not replaced before the swelling continues to increase. Newer capacitors have a “Pressure Sensitive Interrupter”, which prevents swelling by making the capacitor fail before it reaches that point. The extent of the damage will also determine whether the capacitor needs to repaired or replaced.

  • How Do Electric Mini Split Systems Work?

    Mini Split Systems

    Electric heating and cooling systems are referred to in different ways, including multi-split, mini-split (ductless), and split-zoning. Unlike the traditional central air conditioner, these units are created with split designs and without a complex system of ducts.

    The mini-splits control temperature individually by using a singular indoor air-handler to be controllable by each independent room. It provides individual room comfort that is controllable to that particular room or space. It's described as a split system because it consists of indoor equipment and outdoor equipment which is connected by a pipe known as a line set. Split system air conditioners come in two main forms; mini-split and central systems. The mini-split is an attractive option as opposed to a window or a through-the-wall unit. These type of systems are used to condition a specific space. Configurations differ, allowing from one to eight indoor units per unit outdoors. With a central air conditioning, the heat-exchanger inside is normally placed within the furnace/air handler unit of forced air heating system. It is then utilized in the summer months to allocate refrigerated air all through a space, room or building. These are commonly larger and placed in a cellar or upper floor attic.
    Considered excellent for regulating the temperatures within a single room, the mini split systems supply control with the attached indoor component, resulting in elevated SEER levels. The footprint enables you to mount it in additional locations for less obtrusive installations. The electric split system offers inverters in multi-split system air conditioners. The feature is a ground-breaking design that allows up to eight indoor units to be connected to a solitary outdoor unit.

    Typical duct-work in most homes loses 20-40% of heating and cooling generated due to leakage or conduction. Using ductless technology like the mini split system, indoor units can be installed in any room, or multiple rooms. This provides a perfect solution to heating or cooling exactly where it may be needed and when it is needed.

    These mini split systems provide energy efficient, silent and environmentally friendly solutions for comfort. They are radically more efficient than conventional central air systems. They use inverter-driven compressors. The mini split systems also automatically regulate to altering conditions to distribute ideal comfort only utilizing the energy that needed. You can condition the rooms you are in while other rooms turn off or will setback. Zoning your home allows you to save power while maximizing your individual comfort.

  • How Do Packaged Heat Pumps Provide Efficient Electric Heating and Cooling?

    Heating

    Packed heat pumps are used to either cool a house during the hot summer seasons, or heat it up when the weather gets cold. They are designed to operate efficiently in any climate, making them wonderful additions to any home. While they do take a little bit of effort to install since they require a duct system for the home, this is easy done by a professional at little to no charge when purchasing one of these systems.
    How Are They Efficient?
    Packaged heat pumps use coils to transfer heat from the outdoors to the inside of your home. This makes them most effective in mild temperatures. When it's mildly warm, they can effectively pull heat from the air and coil transfer it into the home to heat it up. This transfer is done through liquid refrigerant that is placed within the system's coils, which then can absorb heat from the outdoors, even when there is very little, and turn it into a gas. As the gas is turned back into a liquid, the indoor coil absorbs it and releases this heat into the home.

    This whole process uses heat that is already there instead of creating it like most systems. This means that it will use a lot less energy than most other heating systems, making packaged heat pumps a viable option over other methods.
    Packaged Heat Pump Tips for Maximum Efficiency
    - When using a packaged heat pump along with an electric furnace, place the heat pump on the colder side of it, usually upstream. This will give it better efficiency.
    - Sometimes, these systems can be pretty noisy. Try to find a system that has a sound rating of 7.6 or below, unless you're able to place your packaged heat pump further from the home than normal. Place the pump on a noise absorption plate could also help reduce the sound it makes.
    - Keep your system out of the wind. This can cause frosting problems in the Winter, and can also make it less effective at absorbing heat or cold from the outside. The location of your system is very important.
    - Get a pump with defrost control. This will help reduce energy costs in colder seasons.
    Conclusion
    Packaged heat pumps are an effective solution for heating or cooling your home. With a little bit of work, you can easily save thousands on your energy bill each year! Just make sure that you pick a quiet system with effective controls. Also, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to ensure that you are saving the most energy for the price.

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