• HVAC Installation Experience Matters

    HVAC Installation Experience Matters

    How Important is Installation?

     

    Your TV remote control won’t work if the batteries are not aligned correctly, and your fence may fall over if the posts aren’t deep enough. Proper installation matters!

     

    There are 1000’s of possible examples! If something isn’t installed correctly, it won’t work as it should. This is especially true of heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) equipment. HVAC installation is much more complicated than installing batteries or digging a hole.  So, it’s important to make sure your local HVAC technician is experienced, qualified, and backs their work.

     

    Energy-Efficient HVAC


    If you install a high-efficiency system, the installation can help deliver the efficiency rating you expect. A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is installed improperly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!1  “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.  “Our measurements indicate that improper installation could increase household energy use for space heating and cooling on the order of 30 percent over what it should be."2  Homeowners must be sure they hire trained, qualified, and installation-experienced HVAC technicians.  But this isn’t always as easy as it sounds!

    Dealers, Technicians and Contractors, Oh My!


    For most homeowners, HVAC installation is not a “DIY” project. Creating comfortable indoor temperatures is a balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Therefore, finding a qualified HVAC installer is crucial to a quality installation. But with so many companies, technicians, and contractors to choose from, finding the right person for the job can be difficult. How can you check high-efficiency equipment expertise of an HVAC technician?

    Spending time choosing the right dealer can pay off in the end. Homeowners should consider researching their dealer’s:

    • Qualifications
    • Technical certifications and training
    • Industry associations
    • Availability - What days/times are they available?
    • Labor limited warranty options

    You may find the most qualified technician in your area, but what happens if they don’t work weekends.  This can cause problems if a repair or maintenance is needed after installation!  If you can’t get in touch with your technician, you may be forced to wait for repairs. Hiring the wrong technician for installation can cost you time or more fees.

    Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training.  However, a license may not reflect actual installation expertise. If you have been or know a new teenage driver, you may understand the value of experience!

    You may want to consider getting HVAC technician recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.  Be sure these recommendations are for the same type of HVAC work that you need to be completed.  “How to Select a Heating and Cooling Contractor” highlights some suggested evaluation tactics.

    There is a better chance that a dealer understands the high-efficiency installation process, manufacturer’s products, proven best-practices and possible site-specific challenges if they have both training and real-world experience.

    HVAC Certifications


    Bad reviews, excessive return trips, and unhappy customers are not good HVAC business practices! Dealers’ technicians must continually learn about the latest technology and high-efficiency products. Technicians can earn independent and manufacturer-based certifications as a way to increase their HVAC knowledge and confirm their understanding.  Homeowners may have a greater peace of mind during installation if their technician has been approved or recognized in the process.
    Some HVAC industry certifications include:

    • NATE: The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians. The organization develops and tests real world industry knowledge. Candidates can earn installation and service certifications in multiple specialty areas.3
    • HVAC Excellence Certification:  The mission of the HVAC Excellence certification program is to improve skills by testing the technical education process. The Esco Group provides many types of certifications for technicians at all levels in their career, from Employment Ready Certifications to Professional Technician and Master Specialist Certifications.
    • EPA Certification:  All technicians who maintain, service, repair or dispose of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants, including air condition coolants such as R-22 or R-410A, must be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques. HVAC technicians cannot buy refrigerants without the appropriate EPA Certification.

    cta-outline_peace-mind

    1, 2 Domanski, P. A., Henderson, H. I., & Payne, W. V. (October 2014). Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance. Retrieved from http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf
    3 NATE. (n.d.). Retrieved from North American Technician Excellence: http://www.natex.org/site/1/Home
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  • Which AC Features Can Save You Money?

    Money-saving Air Conditioner features

    Unless you live off-the-grid and have cut the utility cord, you probably have a monthly electric bill. The bad news is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that residential electricity costs will continue to rise into 2018.1 This is not the best news for homeowners who have enjoyed lower electricity prices for the past few years - especially for those with older central air conditioning systems!

    In July 2007, the average U.S. residential electricity price was 11.07 cents per kilowatt hour*. The EIA forecasts the July 2018 price to be near 13.33 cents per kilowatt hour* – that’s over a 20% increase in 10 years.1

    But there is good news too! If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, there are energy-efficient units with advanced features that can help reduce electricity bills and improve indoor comfort.

    The SEER Factor


    Before we get into the specifics of SEER, we need to understand what it means! SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use.  

    The higher the SEER rating, the less energy an air conditioning unit will use to operate.

    Air conditioning systems in the U.S. installed before 2006 could have SEER ratings of 10 or less. Currently, the minimum U.S. SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 in the South and Southwest regions and 13 in the North.

    There is good news for homeowners looking to replace their current AC! Higher SEER air conditioners may include features that provide premium cooling performance and money-saving efficiency.

    Let’s Shift Gears


    Imagine driving your car in the same gear, year after year, regardless of the driving conditions. There is a good chance that it won’t get the efficiency or longevity that you would like. The same concept can be applied to your central air conditioning system.

    The good news is that certain high-efficiency air conditioners use two-stage technology that offers part-load efficiency. This means that your central air conditioning doesn’t have to run at 100% in every circumstance, but can adjust to load requirements in an energy-efficient manner.

    If you lower your thermostat or control system more than a few degrees, your AC compressor and circulating fan will operate at 100% cooling capacity to reach the desired temperature. If your air conditioner only needs to maintain the set temperature, it may not need to run at 100%! This is where two-stage technology comes in! A low-stage demand from the thermostat can result in up to 35% speed reductions at both the compressor and indoor unit circulating fan. Two-stage cooling generally results in extended operation at a low speed, providing improved indoor comfort, and using less electricity than single-stage systems.

    Variable-speed cooling is driven by a variable-speed compressor that can adjust output to match the load requirement. This type of compressor provides premium cooling performance which can result in lower energy bills when compared to a single-stage compressor. Because the unit doesn’t have to start and stop as frequently, it uses less energy than a standard AC would use.

    Let’s Review


    Even if electricity is getting more expensive, it is possible to save energy while cooling your indoor spaces. But a high-efficient air conditioner with advanced technology is only one piece of the puzzle. If other key energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like. Additional factors that can influence cooling efficiency levels include, but are not limited to:

    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • AC installation and maintenance
    • Insulation and construction methods
    • Windows and doors

    If you want to trim costs associated with indoor cooling, talk to your local, professional licensed HVAC dealer. Or, you can always cut the cord and move off-the-grid!

    cta-outline_stay-cool


    1 Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved from US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/electricity.cfm
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  • The Pricing Puzzle: The Cost of a New Air Conditioner

    Cost of a new air conditioner

    When it comes to cars, trucks, and SUVs, each varies in size, efficiency, comfort and price. On top of that, each car dealer may have their own pricing model that impacts your final cost of your new vehicle. The same can be said of air conditioners —except they aren’t operational without installation!  Air conditioners should be professionally installed to perform the way they were designed!


    There are multiple considerations that go into an HVAC dealer’s estimate or final bill for installing a new energy-efficient air conditioner in your home. Below are a few of the considerations that may contribute to the cost of a new air conditioner for in your home.


    The Air Conditioner and Features

     

    Like automobiles, air conditioners range from basic to high-end models. The minimum efficiency model may initially cost less than an energy-efficient air conditioner with added features. However, some of these additional features are designed and engineered to improve the energy efficiency of the air conditioner, which could save you in energy costs over the life of the unit.

    Features that may contribute to the cost of the cooling equipment may include:


    • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
    • Communications compatibility
    • Sound inhibitor options
    • Condenser speed
    • Compressor type
    • Motor capability
    • Other manufacturer specifics


    Square Footage and Design

     

    Would you buy a small car to tow a large boat? Probably not! It’s important to make sure your purchase has the ability to perform its required task! An air conditioner must be sized correctly in order to do its job — effectively cool your indoor spaces!


    You home’s square footage, construction and age impact the necessary size and required capacity of your cooling system. For instance, how well your home is insulated often affects the way your air conditioner operates. Higher R-value insulation ratings can help keep your home cooler and work in conjunction with your home’s air conditioner to help lower your utility bills. Higher insulation values may result from weatherized doors, walls, roofs and/or windows.


    Typically, as a specific AC model’s size and cooling capacity increases, so can the price. Your local HVAC dealer can help determine the size of the air conditioner that best fits your home design, budget, and indoor cooling expectations.


    What’s Your Address?

     

    Every location has cost-of-living variables, supply/demand characteristics, and site-specific regulations. Your home’s location may impact the cost of housing-related products, including your new air conditioner.


    Many states and local municipalities have specific requirements that specify the cooling equipment permitted in your city and the method of its installation. These local codes can impact your cost by influencing the efficiency rating, sound levels or underlying technology of your new air conditioning system. Your local, licensed professional HVAC dealer should be knowledgeable of your site-specific requirements and meet the required codes of AC installation.


    Installation and Labor

     

    Once the specific size and model are determined, the air conditioner installation and labor costs are calculated. For every home installation, a license or professional HVAC dealer has to determine:


    • Additional parts required
    • Time length of job
    • Number of professionals required

     

    Each cooling system installation is unique. Your installer must create a balance between the new AC mechanics and the pre-existing equipment, duct work and necessary air flow. The more complex the installation, the more it may cost for labor, installation and additional parts.


    • If ducts are used to distribute the cool air in your home, the quality of these ducts plays an integral role in the effectiveness and efficiency of your new cooling system. If your licensed professional HVAC dealer finds that your existing ductwork is inadequate, they may need to modernize it.
    • Cost may also be influenced your cooling system’s location.  For example, tight spaces both indoors and outdoors can make it more difficult to remove the current unit and install the new air conditioner.
    • Licensed professional HVAC dealers have various levels of experience, qualifications, and labor limited warranties that back their work. These variables may elevate the quality of your installation. 

     

    Installation is crucial to the effective operation and longevity of your new air conditioner. Proper installation may eliminate the need for unplanned visits, added costs and inconveniences, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance. The lowest or even the highest bid may not be the best installer for your project. To ensure you hire a qualified professional that best fits the job, read “How to Select a Heating & Cooling Contractor?


    Goodman Air Conditioners
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  • What is a Two-Stage Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?

    Two Stage Cooling Energy Efficient Feature


    If you are researching a new air conditioner or heat pump, you may notice a few features that didn’t exist a few years ago. One of those is two-stage cooling, and its demand by homeowners is rising!

    Two-stage cooling refers to the type of compressor that’s in the outside condensing unit. This feature allows for two levels of operation depending on your cooling needs — full capacity on hot summer days or part capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a traditional, single-stage unit.

    It’s All About Demand!
                      

    When you “start” a bicycle with your feet on the pedals, you have to put in a lot of initial effort to get up to speed.  You may even have to stand up to get the pedals going! The same idea can be applied to an air conditioner or heat pump turning ON at 100% capacity. A single-stage unit cools at 100% capacity until it reaches your preset indoor temperature and then turns off.


    Think again about riding your bike. It takes less energy to maintain a comfortable biking speed than it does to get up to speed. The same concept applies to two-stage cooling. A two-stage heat pump or air conditioner may use 100% full capacity to reach your desired interior temperature, but then it may use part-capacity to maintain your setting as long as possible.


    Depending on the outdoor temperature and the energy-efficiency and insulating variables of your home, your two-stage air conditioner or heat pump may have to remain at 100% to maintain that preset indoor temperature. This is similar to riding your bicycle uphill — you can’t back off your pedaling efforts or you may get pulled down the hill. Just like the heat, the opposing force is too great so you have to keep up your power in order to reach your goal!


    For example, if the outdoor temperature is 95°F and the thermostat or control system is set at 75°F, your system might stay at 100% capacity to reach and sustain 75°F. But if the outdoor temperature is only moderately warm, a two-stage system may be able to operate with less capacity to maintain the preset indoor temperature. Depending on your home’s energy-efficiency variables, the limited cooling demand may result in nearly a 35% speed reduction at both the compressor and indoor unit circulating fan compared to a single-stage heat pump or air conditioner.



    Benefits of Two-Stage Cooling

     

    The two-stage unit may seem to run longer than a traditional single-stage unit, but this part-capacity operation offers energy-saving benefits that you will feel throughout your home:

    • Consistent Indoor Comfort – With its ability to adjust cooling output, your two-stage air conditioner or heat pump may minimize the peaks and valleys of cooling often found with the ON/OFF cycle of a single-stage unit. The lower stage capacity is able to maintain the pre-set temperature longer than if the system turns off when it reaches the pre-set temperature. This allows for steady cooling comfort in your home.
    • Dehumidification - The extended operation of a two-stage air conditioner or heat pump runs longer which removes more moisture from the interior spaces structure.  While the main job of the air conditioner or heat pump is to condition the air to a set temperature, these comfort-creating pieces of equipment may lower the indoor humidity level as a by-product of the cooling process.  Better humidity control leaves you with more comfortable interior air. When humidity levels are better controlled, you may be able to increase the set temperature on your thermostat or control system and still be comfortable in your home.
    • Energy-Efficient – You may think that because a two-stage cooling unit operates longer than a single-stage unit that it would use more electricity, but electricity usage peaks when a system turns ON. The two-stage feature actually reduces the peak start/stop load cycle which reduces the draw on your electricity. The capacity of the air conditioner or heat pump compressor changes to meet the cooling demand and therefore reduces energy consumption.

     

    While full cooling capacity provides indoor comfort on the hottest days of the year, the extended operation at the part capacity helps maintain the indoor temperature for a longer period of time and dehumidifies the conditioned air in the process. With two-stage cooling, your air conditioner or heat pump may help you enjoy steady and consistent cooling when compared to the single-speed unit.


    Stay cool with Goodman Products
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  • Eliminate Indoor Hypothermia – Furnace Repair or Furnace Replace?

    coldest-place

    If you are reading this, you may be wearing a coat, scarf, hat and mittens inside of your home.  To ward off hypothermia, you probably placed an emergency call to your HVAC contractor! Whether your furnace is on the fritz or you are just looking for one that is more energy-efficient  to heat your home, there may come a time when you have a discussion with your independent HVAC contractor on whether to repair or replace your gas furnace.

    The decision may not be an easy one! Unless your furnace is a hazard or damaged beyond repair, there are no hard rules in determining whether to repair or replace your furnace. However, below are a few concepts that may help:

    This Old Furnace


    According to Energystar.gov1 , your older heating system may be less efficient and have an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of 56%-70%. New energy-efficient furnaces are now required to have a minimum of 80% AFUE, meaning more energy is converted into usable heat – potentially saving you money on energy bills.

    As a furnace ages, it may likely need repairs or more than average maintenance service. The estimated cost to keep the furnace running, as provided by your local HVAC dealer, will give you more concrete reasons to replace or repair.  However, age isn’t everything.

    Repair Cost vs. Replacement Cost


    Homeowners should decide their repair cost cutoff point. How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth it? Consumer Reports suggests that if the cost to repair your current furnace is 50% of the cost of a new furnace, you should replace it.2

    For example, if your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that is not covered by a limited warranty, the equipment replacement in addition to labor costs may exceed up to the 50% threshold.  At that point, it may be time to replace. Additionally, the long term energy bill savings of purchasing a high-efficient furnace may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  On the contrary, if the problem is an easy, relatively inexpensive fix that restores peak efficiency, a repair may be the best approach.

    To get a more specific, cost vs. benefit assessment, a homeowner should discuss repair vs replace costs with their local HVAC dealer.

    Save Green


    Today’s systems can have an AFUE as high as 98.5%, meaning nearly all the energy purchased is used toward heating your home. An 80% AFUE gas furnace means that 80 cents of every energy dollar warms your home.1

    Energy efficiency standards vary by region. To determine your minimum standard, check with your local HVAC dealer.

    New Technology Offers a Consistent Temperature


    For some homeowners, their old gas furnace operates in either 100% ON or OFF. Historically, when the indoor temperature falls, the furnace kicks on at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached. This on/off cycle means that the indoor temperatures might continuously fluctuate.

    Advanced technology enables your gas furnace to reduce temperature swings while quietly running more efficiently. For example, a furnace with a variable speed indoor blower motor can operate at different capacities to more accurately control the flow of heated air to your home. This energy-saving feature can save you money on utility bills compared to single stage furnaces because the system doesn’t have to run at full capacity to reach the set temperature.

    Length of home ownership


    Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new gas furnace. When determining to repair or replace your current unit, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:
    • Are you living in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years to you plan to sell your home?

    While there are a lot of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your furnace, the best source of information can come from your licensed professional HVAC contractor.  Because these local professionals understand the details associated with your particular system, they are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance.

    cta-outline_stay-warm

    1 Furnaces. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/furnaces
    2 Should you repair or replace that product? (2014, January). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm?loginMethod=auto
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  • What Is SEER and Why Does It Matter?

    What is SEER

    If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner or heat pump, you have probably noticed that each unit comes with a SEER rating related to the unit’s energy efficiency and performance for cooling.  But what exactly is SEER, and why should it matter to you?

    Higher SEER Equals Higher Efficiency


    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use.  The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the unit will use.  Many older residential air conditioning systems in the U.S. may have SEER ratings of 10 or less. The good news for homeowners in the market for a new air conditioner or heat pump is that current high-efficiency residential equipment can boast SEER ratings of 25 or higher. Higher SEER units typically cost less to run, which can save homeowners money on energy costs.

    Before the SEER rating was adopted, cooling equipment was rated based on how much energy was used while running at full capacity in a controlled environment.  The method was similar to calculating the average fuel efficiency of a vehicle while driving it 100 mph on rollers in a climate-controlled lab. The test results would not be an accurate measurement of the vehicle’s typical efficiency.

    As a result, the SEER rating was developed in order to provide consumers with a more accurate representation of the typical energy use of an air conditioning unit or heat pump in cooling mode. The SEER rating takes into account a number of important factors:
    • Climate zones
    • Part-load efficiency
    • Energy consumption in standby mode
    • Varying load requirements

    Minimum Efficiency


    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy efficiency standards for air conditioners, heat pumps, and other HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment. In 2006, the DOE raised the minimum SEER requirement from 10 SEER to 13 SEER nationwide in an effort to promote energy savings that benefit the consumer.  In 2015, the DOE again raised the minimum SEER requirement for central air conditioners and heat pumps installed in certain regions of the U.S.1 Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.  

    What’s Right for You?


    Your air conditioning system may get a lot of use in warmer months. While in some areas of the country, these systems are running almost year round. For homeowners in these locations, you may want to consider an air conditioning or heat pump with an Energy Star rating to possibly save even more in energy costs. However, if you live in a more temperate area where you go much of the year without cooling; a minimum SEER rating may make the most financial sense.

    To reduce your energy costs and learn more about Goodman’s high SEER products, speak with an independent Goodman dealer in your area.


    cta-outline_find-dealer

     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for
    Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com/publications

    1 Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved from Appliance Standards Awareness Project: http://www.appliance-standards.org/product/central-air-conditioners-and-heat-pumps

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  • Is a High-Efficiency Furnace Right for Me?

    Is a high efficiency gas furnace right for me

    In North America, many homes are heated using forced-air systems. Your gas furnace, which is often located in the basement, attic, crawl space or utility closet, may use natural gas or propane as the energy source to create heat within the furnace’s heat exchanger.  Air is moved across the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the ductwork to heat the home.


    What Factors Affect Efficiency?


    Each gas furnace model has an energy efficiency rating in the form of a percent. This number is its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), or the ratio of annual heat output of the furnace compared to the amount of annual fuel energy it consumes. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE of 80%, it means 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat while 20% escapes and is wasted.1


    How AFUE Can Save Me Money?


    Many older furnaces may have efficiencies of only 56 to 70% AFUE, which can cost the homeowner more to heat their home compared to a higher AFUE model. Switching to a newer, more energy-efficient gas furnace that can reach upwards of 98% AFUE means nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home.1 As a result, the homeowner’s monthly heating bills can be reduced.

     

    Condensing Vs. Non-Condensing


    The gas furnaces available in North America can be put into two categories: condensing and non-condensing.


    • Non-Condensing Furnace: A mid-efficiency furnace (80% and 90% AFUE) vents exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.
    • Condensing Furnace:A high-efficiency furnace (90% AFUE or higher) utilizes a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases in order to reach higher efficiencies. A high-efficiency condensing furnace requires specialized venting.

    Choosing a Furnace


    The initial cost of a high-efficiency condensing furnace can be more expensive than a less efficient model. According to The Department of Energy, homeowners will likely save more money on fuel bills over the life of a high AFUE product when compared to a lower AFUE or less efficient gas furnace. 1 However, when determining if a higher-efficiency furnace is cost-effective for your budget, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership to determine how long it would take to recuperate initial costs of a higher AFUE model.


    • Are you currently in your “forever home”?
    • How long to your expect your current home to fit your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to sell your home in the near future?
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?

     

    Additionally, many states and utilities offer tax credits and other incentives to homeowners who install high-efficiency furnaces. An experienced local dealer can assist you in determining whether a higher efficiency gas furnace or a mid-efficiency model is right for your needs.



    cta-outline_energy-star
     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, the former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly news magazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com



    1 Furnace and Boilers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers

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  • How to Select a Heating and Cooling Contractor?

    Homeowner HVAC reviews

    Whether your home’s heating and cooling system is in need of routine maintenance, emergency repairs or a total replacement, selecting a qualified HVAC contractor is an important, yet often daunting task. To ensure you hire a qualified professional that best fits the job, there are several important steps to take.


    Do Research

     

    A little internet research can go a long way in weeding out subpar HVAC service companies. 


    • Heating and cooling manufacturers’ websites often provide an independent dealer locator with contact information and key details for contractors near your location.
    • Websites like Nextdoor and Yelp may make it easier to locate local contractors, identify recommended companies, and read customer reviews.
    • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), an organization that represents HVAC contractors, offers a searchable database of its contractor members.
    • Better Business Bureau provides accreditation and gives businesses a letter grade, from A+ to F, based on information it is able to obtain, including complaints received from the public.

    Referrals

     

    Ask neighbors, friends, and family for referrals. Referrals can give a homeowner insight as to the type of experience they can expect from a particular contractor. Similarly, you can ask contractors for customer references and contact them to gather more information. According to energystar.gov, homeowners should “ask [the references] about the contractor's installation or service performance and if the job was completed on time and within budget.”


    Read Reviews

    A quick glance at the number of review stars can often be misleading. Be sure to read the written comments and look for licensed contractors with a good reputation for value, quality and customer service.

    • Did the contractor address the problem?
    • Did the contractor provide clear details of the problem to the homeowner?
    • Did the contractor resolve disputes in a timely, thoughtful, and respectful manner?

     

    Reading reviews may provide a homeowner with insight as to a contractor’s commitment to customers’ satisfaction. Providing prompt solutions and addressing any errors is the mark of a good service company.


    What to Look For in a HVAC Contractor?


    Your state may require that HVAC contractors be licensed, bonded and insured. This information can often be found online. Once you have scheduled a service appointment, there are a few things to pay attention to:


    Communication:
      Does the technician or dispatcher stay in touch with you by phone, text, or email leading up to the service appointment? Do they communicate any schedule changes in a timely manner?


    Punctuality:
      Does the technician arrive within the specified time window?


    Appearance:
    Does the technician appear “work ready” or are they wearing a dealer
    uniform?


    Certification:
    Many technicians are certified through organizations such as NATE (North American Technician Excellence), and these patches are often displayed on their uniforms. Does your technician have any certification patches displayed on their uniform?


    Patience:
    Does the technician listen to your concerns, take time to explain their findings and answer any questions you may have?


    Thoroughness:
    Depending on the nature of the appointment (emergency vs annual inspection), a technician may perform a complete system evaluation and/or an inspection. This process can take time and should not just be a quick once-over. Upon completion, the technician should go over any concerning results.


    Documentation:
    The technician should provide written documentation of all the work done and/or provides quotes in writing.


    A good technician will be pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, courteous, patient and willing to answer your questions. Remember, they are a service company — their job is to serve you to the best of their ability. If you are not happy with something, do not be afraid to ask them to fix it.


    Value and Service Expectations


    It is important to seek the best value for your particular home’s need. If you are looking to purchase and install a new heating or cooling system (or both) from a contractor, be sure you are working with a professional licensed HVAC contractor who is willing to provide a limited warranty for their work and products installed. Doing the job properly the first time may help eliminate the need for repeat visits, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance.


    Many HVAC service companies offer maintenance agreements, which provide for scheduled maintenance of the HVAC system and equipment. This can be a worthwhile investment. Maintaining the efficiency of your equipment and components can help ensure peak performance and may extend the life of the system.


    Manufacturer Dealer Locator


    Most HVAC manufacturers provide tools to assist homeowners in finding an independent dealer. Goodman’s dealer locator lists independent HVAC contractors who offer professional and licensed HVAC services by location, services provided and certification. These contractors typically offer a value-focused, flexible and informative approach to heating or cooling maintenance, service or purchases.


    cta-outline_find-dealer
     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com/publications

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  • Should I Repair or Replace My Air Conditioner?

    repair or replace your AC?

    Unless you are exercising – you do not expect to sweat inside your home. So when your air conditioning system breaks down, you want it fixed yesterday!  It’s time to call your AC contractor to get it fixed.


    But a time may come when you need to decide whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, and the decision may not be an easy one. Unless your air conditioner is damaged beyond repair, there are no hard rules in determining whether to replace or repair your system. However, below are a few concepts that may help guide your decision:


    This Old AC


    Even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly-skilled HVAC contractor, an aging air conditioner may start to show its age. If your unit is nearing its life expectancy, you may consider a replacement as an alternative to costly repairs.


    According to the Department of Energy, many older residential air conditioning systems in the U.S. have SEER ratings of 10 or less.1 Currently, the required minimum SEER rating of a residential air conditioning system differs by region, but ranges from 13 SEER to 14 SEER.


    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit in typical day-to-day use.


    Under similar working conditions, standards dictate that higher SEER air conditioning units are more energy-efficient than lower SEER units. “Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to keep your home cool could reduce energy use for air conditioning up to 50%.”2 Based on this logic, if your aging unit is a low SEER model that requires significant repairs, it may be beneficial for a homeowner to replace it with a more energy-efficient one.


    However, age isn’t everything when considering repairing or replacing your air condition unit.



    Repair Cost vs. Replacement Cost


    Air conditioning repairs come in all shapes, sizes and costs! Every repair-replace scenario is unique to the unit and the expectations of the homeowner. A professional licensed HVAC technician can provide you with an estimate of repair cost, as well as supply equipment-specific reasons to consider a replacement unit.


    If a repair is necessary, homeowners should decide their repair cost cutoff point. How expensive does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s worth it to upgrade to a new system? The long-term utility bill savings of purchasing a higher efficiency air condition system may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  However, if your HVAC contractor provides repair estimates that come close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching new air conditioner models.


    On the contrary, if the air conditioner problem is an easy, relatively inexpensive fix that restores peak efficiency, a repair may be the best approach.


    Comfort and New Technology


    When deciding between an air conditioning repair or replacement, homeowners should consider if their cooling needs are being addressed by their current unit. You may ask yourself:


    1. Is my air conditioner unit loud?
    2. Do I notice inconsistent temperatures and fluctuations in my home?
    3. Is the AC cooling my house as I expect it should?
    4. Why are my energy bills higher than my neighbor’s house with similar square footage?

     

    But before you replace your current system because of cooling issues, have your HVAC contractor check for large air leaks, insufficient ducting and/or breaks in the duct seals.  There are times when the real source of a cooling problem is not a dying HVAC unit, but ineffective components of the system.3


    Technology is changing the way we live and AC manufacturers are taking note by applying advanced mechanics to their products to increase comfort. Advanced features, such as improved motor and compressor technologies, as well as smart home automation and communication may provide homeowners with more precise temperature control, noise reduction and energy efficiency when compared to their current model.

     

    However, if you want your air conditioner to simply work the way it’s intended to, air conditioner repairs and annual maintenance may help you get the most miles out of your current unit.


    Save Green


    Despite SEER rating, if your air condition system is not running at peak performance, you may be spending more money on utility bills than necessary. According to the University of Kentucky Biosystems Engineering’s Builders Guide, a poorly functioning high-efficiency system may cost more to operate than a well-designed, moderate efficiency unit.  Keeping your system at peak performance and running as intended can be financially beneficial!


    However, if your HVAC technician reveals that an aging, lower SEER air condition unit may be the primary culprit of your high utility bills, you should research the cost/benefits of a installing a higher SEER replacement unit.


    SEER ratings associated cost savings can be compared to the set MPG (miles per gallon) in your car. Under the same driving conditions, your gasoline costs to drive 30 miles in a 15 MPG car will be higher than one with a 30 MPG rating. The same goes for SEER ratings. Under the same cooling conditions, a 10 SEER unit will be more expensive to do the same workload as a 14 SEER unit.


    Length of Home Ownership


    Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new high-efficiency air conditioning unit. When determining to repair or replace your current AC, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Are you living in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (Getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years to you plan to sell your home?
    • Will a new energy-efficient air condition help sell your home if necessary?

     

    While there are a lot of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, the best source of information can come from your licensed professional HVAC contractor.  Because these local professionals understand the details associated with your particular system, they are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance. 


    cta-outline_stay-cool

    1 Central Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/central-air-conditioning

    2 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning

    3 Heat & Cool Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac

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  • The Air Conditioner Limited Warranty*- The Why, When & How?

    AC limited warranty registration

    “We will revolutionize the Heating and Air Conditioning Industry with the highest-quality equipment, manufactured by the best-producing workforce and sold for the best value in the market.” -Harold V. Goodman

    When it comes to warranties, the Goodman® brand stands behind its products.

    Why Register?


    When you make a large purchase like an air conditioner, it can give you peace of mind if the manufacturer backs its product with a warranty.  But in order to receive the fullest extent of those benefits, you may have to register the purchased product!
    Equipment can either be registered by the homeowner or the installing dealer. However, be sure to confirm your product’s registration process with your dealer to limit any confusion about who will be registering the equipment.

    Without any action, your Goodman air conditioner comes with a 5-year parts limited warranty. But when you register your new Goodman unit and meet certain predefined conditions, your air conditioner will qualify for additional enhanced warranty coverage.
    With predefined registration conditions, Goodman will furnish a 10-year parts limited warranty that provides replacement part(s) for any part that is found to be defective due to workmanship or materials under normal use and maintenance. With predefined registration conditions, select models may include a 10-year unit replacement limited warranty** and lifetime compressor limited warranty** (good for as long as you own your home).

    For example,

    • Select higher efficiency Goodman brand air conditioners offer a lifetime compressor limited warranty to the original, registered owner. If the original registered owner should have a compressor failure, Goodman will replace the unit with a comparable Goodman brand air conditioner or heat pump.

    For specific warranty information, be sure to read your specific air conditioner model’s warranty certificate! To view the warranty certificate for a specific Goodman air conditioner, please select the air conditioner model of choice, and then the “Details” section. Under the specific model web page, you will find a link to the specific model’s warranty certificate.  You may also get a copy of the warranty from your local licensed or professional Goodman dealer.

    Register Within 60 Days!


    Why get a 5-year warranty when you can get a 10-year warranty? Aren’t a few minutes of your time worth that extra peace of mind?

    In order to receive the fullest extent of Goodman’s air conditioner warranty, online registration for qualified purchases should be completed within 60 days of the installation date. If you or your installing dealer has the product information on hand, the process is simple!

    (NOTE: Residents of California and Quebec do not need to register the product in order to get all the rights and remedies of registered owners under the limited warranty.)

    While registration is not required to obtain standard warranty coverage, the registration date may affect the length of your equipment’s limited warranty.
    • If the unit is not registered within the 60-day window of the installation date, the air conditioner’s applicable warranty period is 5 YEARS.
    • If the unit is properly registered online within 60 days after the installation date, the warranty lasts for as long as the original registered owner or his or her spouse own and reside in the home in which the unit was originally installed, for a period up to 10 YEARS.

    The installation date is defined as:
    • For units installed in a newly constructed residence, the installation date is the date the owner purchases the residence from the builder.
    • For units installed in existing residences, the installation date is the date that the unit is originally installed.

    How to Register for Your Warranty?


    Online registration requires the following information:
    • Homeowner name
    • Homeowner address
    • Contact number
    • Email address
    • Installation date
    • Model and serial numbers
    • Contractor’s name
    • Contractor’s phone number

    How to Confirm the Model and Serial Numbers?


    The model and serial number can be found on the rating plate of your air conditioner. This is generally found slightly above the refrigerant valves on the back side of the unit. The serial number is a ten digit code that helps Goodman identify the time the unit was produced, as well as the model number and many of the sub-components used on a specific unit. Your installing dealer can assist you in locating the unit’s serial number and model information.

    Additionally, many local Goodman brand dealers will affix the “traveler label” from the shipping box to your installation paperwork provided to you.  This label contains the unit’s information and makes it unnecessary to search for the serial number on the unit.

    cta-outline_peace-mind


    *Complete warranty details available from your local dealer or at www.goodmanmfg.com. To receive the 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

    ** Complete warranty details available from your local dealer or at www.goodmanmfg.com. To receive the 10-Year Unit Replacement Limited Warranty, Lifetime Compressor Limited Warranty (good for as long as you own your home) and 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.
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  • The Gas Furnace Warranty*: The Why, When & How?

    Gas Furnace Warranty

    “We will revolutionize the Heating and Air Conditioning Industry with the highest-quality equipment, manufactured by the best-producing workforce and sold for the best value in the market.”

    -Harold V. Goodman

     

    When it comes to warranty coverage, the Goodman® brand stands behind its products.

     

    Why Register?

     

    When you make a large purchase like a gas furnace, it can give you peace of mind if the manufacturer backs its product with a warranty.  But in order to receive the fullest extent of those benefits, you may have to register* the purchased product! (NOTE: Residents of California and Quebec do not need to register the product in order to get all the rights and remedies of registered owners under the limited warranty.)


    Goodman brand equipment can either be registered by the homeowner or the installing dealer. However, be sure to confirm your product’s registration process with your dealer to limit any confusion about who will be registering the equipment.

     

    Without any action, your Goodman gas furnace comes with a 5-year parts limited warranty*.  But when you register your new Goodman unit and meet certain predefined conditions, your gas furnace will qualify for additional enhanced warranty coverage.*

    With predefined registration conditions, Goodman will furnish a 10-year parts limited warranty that provides replacement part(s) for any part that is found to be defective due to workmanship or materials under normal use and maintenance, and a lifetime heat exchanger limited warranty**(good for as long as you own your home). With predefined registration conditions, select models may include a 10-year unit replacement limited warranty**.

     

    For specific warranty information, be sure to read your specific gas furnace model’s warranty certificate! To view the warranty certificate for a specific Goodman gas furnace, please select the gas furnace model of your choice, and then the “Details” section. To find a specific warranty certificate for a particular model, click on the “Details” tab under your preferred model. You may also get a copy of the warranty from your local licensed professional Goodman dealer.


    Register Within 60 Days!

     

    Why get a 5-year warranty when you can get a 10-year warranty? Aren’t a few minutes of your time worth that extra peace of mind?

    In order to receive the fullest extent of Goodman’s gas furnace warranty, online registration for qualified purchases should be completed within 60 days of the installation date. If you or your installing dealer has the product information on hand, the process is simple!

    While registration is not required to obtain standard warranty coverage, the registration date may affect the length of your equipment’s limited warranty.

    • If the unit is not registered within the 60-day window of the installation date, the gas furnace’s applicable warranty period is 5 YEARS.
    • If the unit is properly registered online within 60 days after the installation date, the applicable warranty lasts for as long as the original registered owner or his or her spouse own and reside in the home in which the unit was originally installed, for a period up to 10 YEARS.

     

    The installation date is defined as:

    • For units installed in a newly constructed residence, the installation date is the date the owner purchases the residence from the builder.
    • For units installed in existing residences, the installation date is the date that the unit is originally installed.

     

    How to Register for Your Warranty?

     

    Online registration requires the following information:

    • Homeowner name
    • Homeowner address
    • Contact number
    • Email address
    • Installation date
    • Model and serial numbers
    • Contractor’s name
    • Contractor’s phone number

     

    How to Confirm the Model and Serial Numbers?

     

    The serial number is a ten digit code that helps Goodman identify the time the unit was produced, as well as the model number and many of the sub-components used on a specific unit. Your installing dealer can assist you in locating the unit’s serial number and model information.

     

    Additionally, many local Goodman brand dealers will affix the “traveler label” from the shipping box to your installation paperwork provided to you.  This label contains the unit’s information and makes it unnecessary to search for the serial number on the unit.

    Peace of Mind Limited Warranty


    *Complete warranty details are available from your local dealer or at www.goodmanmfg.com. To receive the 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

     

    ** Complete warranty details are available from your local dealer or at www.goodmanmfg.com. To receive the 10-Year Unit Replacement Limited Warranty, Lifetime Heat Exchanger Limited Warranty (good for as long as you own your home) and 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

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  • What You Should Know about Carbon Monoxide

    learn about carbon monoxide

     

    It's instinct! When cold weather arrives, homeowners run to their thermostat or control system to switch on the heat. But they rarely consider the condition of their gas furnace, its exhaust system, and how it might affect their home comfort.


    Let’s Vent


    Overall, new homes can be more energy efficient than homes built as recently as the early 2000’s.1 Innovative insulation options, sealing of air gaps and other factors can create a more energy efficient home. But when fossil fuels are burned in a gas furnace, exhaust gases are produced. One of these gases is carbon monoxide.

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, practically odorless, and tasteless gas or liquid.2

    Exhaust gases must be vented away from indoor spaces so the occupants don’t breathe them in. But as homes become more air tight, there are not as many pathways for these gases to escape. To be sure the gas furnace components and exhaust system are working properly; the furnace should be routinely inspected by a licensed or professional HVAC contractor.

    The Facts


    • Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.3
    • Carbon monoxide is responsible for more than 20,000 visits the emergency room, and more than 4,000 hospitalizations.3
    • Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.3

    Prevent Carbon Monoxide Buildup


    In a properly functioning gas furnace, carbon monoxide gas is vented outside the home.

    When fossil fuels are burned in your home, it is important that the exhaust gases be vented to a properly sized flue or venting system that can eliminate them from indoor spaces. Gas furnaces are not the only source of carbon monoxide. “Carbon monoxide can be generated any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces.”4

    The Center for Disease Control offers the following HVAC-related tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.
    1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector and replace batteries often.  The CDC suggests replacing your carbon monoxide detector every five years.5
    2. Hire a professional or licensed technician. Any gas, oil, or coal burning appliances, including your heating system, water heater, or fireplace should be routinely inspected by a qualified technician.5
    3. Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.5
    4. Have your chimney inspected or cleaned every year. Blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.5
    5. Do not block, close or patch a vent pipe. Only a professional or licensed technician should evaluate and determine appropriate venting. Be aware of heavy snowfall that may block venting on roof or side wall.5

    Carbon Monoxide Detection


    “Half of all unintentional CO poisoning deaths could be prevented with the use of CO alarms.”6


    A functioning carbon monoxide detector can be a life saver if the gas is reaching the interior living spaces. However, the detector should only be used as a backup to properly maintaining your fuel burning appliances. The EPA has the following suggestions regarding carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor or on the ceiling.6
    • Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance.6
    • Each floor needs a separate detector.6
    • Place a detector near the sleeping area and make certain the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.6
    • Regularly test and replace batteries.6

    cta-outline_stay-warm


    1 Department of Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Top 4 Energy Department Inventions Saving You Energy & Money at Home: https://energy.gov/articles/top-4-energy-department-inventions-saving-you-energy-money-home
    2,4  What is Carbon Monoxide? (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://iaq.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212106787-What-is-Carbon-Monoxide-
    3,5 Carbon Monoxide. (n.d.). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm
    6 Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/pcmp_english_100-f-09-001.pdf
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  • Why do Air Filters and MERV Ratings Matter?

    What's in your air filter?

    You vacuum, sweep, dust, and even give your pet a bath, but your air filter may still become coated with “stuff” that has been floating around the conditioned air.  Your air filters may reveal a dirty little secret - the air you breathe may not be as fresh as you think!

    Where are the Indoor Particulates?

     

    “Particulates” is the fancy word for the “stuff” found floating in the ductwork your home. This is the “stuff” that is captured in your HVAC filter. According to the EPA1, a basic air filter with a low Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (commonly known as MERV) may capture some of your home’s airborne particulates including, but not limited to:

    • Dust
    • Pollen
    • Animal dander
    • Larger particles that contain dust mite and cockroach allergens

    Air filters are crucial to the proper operation of an HVAC system because they are intended to minimize the number of particulates landing on fan motors and heating or cooling coils. Routinely replacing the air filter as directed by the manufacturer’s guidelines can protect your HVAC equipment and may help your HVAC system from losing efficiency over time! A clogged air filter can increase your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%.2

    What’s MERV got to do with it?

     

    MERV is not the guy you met at the gym! MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is number value that distinguishes the filtration ability of air filters installed in your HVAC system.3 The MERV numbering system can range from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV number, the better the filter may be at trapping particulates. This means that fewer particles and airborne contaminants can pass through a high MERV filter to your HVAC equipment.

     

    Residential furnaces and air conditioners commonly use 1 to 4 MERV rated filters. The EPA says that basic mechanical air filters may not be very good at completely removing particulates.4 However, these filters may stop some larger particles from passing through to the HVAC equipment.

     

    If the MERV rating if higher, there is a better chance of trapping “bacteria, some spores, a significant fraction of cat and dog allergens, and a small portion of dust mite allergens.”5 The EPA suggests that filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 13 can be as nearly as effective as true HEPA filters.

     

    However, some residential HVAC systems may not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate higher efficiency filters. Therefore, talk with your technician about your HVAC manufacturer’s recommended filter type before upgrading to higher MERV filters. Installing true HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters in an existing home HVAC system typically requires professional modification of the system.

     

    If you are concerned with indoor pollutants, discuss possible solutions and products with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    Affordable Goodman® products
     

    1, 2 Guide to Indoor Air Cleaners in the Home. (2014, July). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-07/documents/aircleaners.pdf

    3 What Are MERV Ratings and How Do They Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from Air Purifier Guide: http://www.airpurifierguide.org/faq/merv-ratings

    4 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/residential-air-cleaners-second-edition-summary-available-information#summary

    5 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

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  • How Humidity and Dry Air May Impact Your Indoor, “Just Right” Comfort?

    Dry air or humidity levels may contribute to indoor comfort

    In the popular children’s story, Goldilocks quickly realized that too hot or too cold is not a good thing. Most people appreciate when temperatures, especially indoor temperatures, are “just right.” Humidity control of your home’s indoor air is essential to ensuring that the temperature you set on the thermostat or control system is ‘just right’ for you and your family.


    When it comes to humidity, the Department of Energy suggests that your air conditioner or heat pump may make an indoor space more comfortable in hot, humid climates. While the main job of the air conditioner or heat pump is to condition the air to a set temperature, these comfort-creating pieces of equipment may lower the indoor humidity level as a by-product of the cooling process. However, if the indoor humidity level remains high, you could still feel uncomfortably damp despite a cooler temperature.1


    Relative Humidity

     

    The temperature you feel has a lot to do with how much moisture, or water vapor, is in the air. Think back to Goldilocks’ porridge (a fancy name for oatmeal!).  If there is a small amount of porridge in the bowl, you can add more. But if the bowl is full of porridge, there is a good chance it will spill over the side. The same is true of water vapor in the air. The more water vapor in the air, the less room there is for more to be added.  If the air is filled with water vapor, it drops out in the form of rain, sleet or snow. The percentage of water vapor in the air, compared to how much it could hold without dropping out at a specific temperature is the relative humidity.2


    The Good and Bad of Evaporation!

     

    When moisture evaporates from our skin, it has a cooling effect. Scientists tell us that evaporation rates increase when the relative humidity decreases.3 That means, when all other conditions are identical,  dry air absorbs moisture faster than humid air. Why?  Because there is room for more water vapor!

    Indoor air with higher humidity has an increased amount of water vapor. As a result, sweat may not evaporate from our skin as quickly as it would with a lower humidity level. This phenomenon may make us feel hotter than the actual temperature because evaporation is slowed. According to the Missouri Department of Energy, most people will feel cooler in a room at 75°F and a relative humidity between 50% and 55% than in a room at the same temperature with a higher relative humidity.4

    While high indoor humidity may make you feel uncomfortable, air with low humidity level can impact your comfort as well.  While there are many variables involved (including air pressure, temperature, and wind speed, etc.) evaporation rates tend to increase with low humidity levels. When evaporation increases, the dry air may leave our skin and other parts of the body that require moisture, feeling dry and parched.5  Proper humidity levels keep you, your furniture and your home from drying out.


    The “Just Right” Feeling

     

    Depending on the season and the geographical location of your home, your indoor spaces may be prone to high or low indoor humidity levels. But despite site-specific variables, every person has unique preferences on their ideal specific humidity and temperature settings required to get that “just right” feeling.

     

    The idea of indoor humidity control sparked one of the first uses of air conditioning in the southern U.S. (link to ice, physics article) Stuart W. Cramer installed the first air conditioning system in North Carolina in order to create “ideal” humidity levels at his cotton mills. However, conventional heat pumps and air conditioners are not meant to control both temperature and humidity independently.6 Dehumidification just happens to be an incidental by-product of the refrigeration cycle!

     

    During the refrigeration cycle, warm air comes in contact with the cold evaporator coil in your air conditioner or heat pump. When this happens, some moisture may be condensed out of the air making your home feel less humid. Any moisture collected by the coil goes to a drain and sent outside, away from your home.

     

    But if your home’s air conditioner or heat pump is oversized for your space, it may not be removing as much moisture as a properly sized and matched unit. A unit that is too large for your home may cool your indoor space quickly, but cycle off before providing the incidental dehumidification. 

     

    A licensed professional HVAC dealer may suggest a separate or additional dehumidifier, which can reduce the relative humidity in your home to a comfortable level.  A dehumidifier may:

    • Reduce the cold, clammy feeling that comes from lowering the temperature on your thermostat in order to reduce the humidity level in your home7
    • Help create an environment where dust mites can’t easily survive (when air is maintained below 50% relative humidity*)7
    • Helps protect your hardwood flooring from warping when set to maintain the relative humidity in the range recommended by the hardwood flooring manufacturer7

     

    If you feel the humidity level is too high for your indoor spaces, your licensed or professional HVAC dealer can inspect your system and provide solutions that can create that “just right” feeling in your home.

    cta-outline_stay-cool

    1 Department of Energy. Energy Saver - Dehumidifying Heat Pipes. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/dehumidifying-heat-pipes. 2017 4 May.

    2 University of Illinois Extension. Treehouse Weather Kids. n.d. https://extension.illinois.edu/treehouse/clouds.cfm?Slide=2. 4 2017 May.

    3, 4 Dougherty, Elizabeth. MIT School of Engineering. 10 May 2011. https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-do-we-sweat-more-in-high-humidity/. 2017 4 May.

    5 Energy Star. Common Home Problems and Solutions: Dry Air. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_solutions.hm_improvement_dryair. 2017 4 May.

    6 American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Top Ten Things About Air Conditioning. n.d. https://www.ashrae.org/resources--publications/free-resources/top-ten-things-about-air-conditioning#10. 4 May 2017.

    7 Clean Comfort Indoor Air Essentials. Dehumidifiers. n.d. http://www.cleancomfort.com/#humiditycontrol. 4 May 2017.


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  • How Smart is Your Thermostat?

    smart thermostats and comfort

    Once upon a time, homeowners like you had to adjust their indoor temperatures by opening windows or fueling fires. Luckily, in 1883 a Wisconsin professor grew tired of having a cold classroom. The professor found himself continuously searching for the janitor in charge of the basement furnace who was responsible for adjusting dampers. As a result, the professor, Warren Johnson, invented the first thermostat.

     

    The Basic Thermostat

     

    Today, it’s hard to imagine a modern home without a device to set the desired indoor temperature. The basic thermostat, which has been a staple in home construction for a few decades, is designed to turn on the central heating and cooling system at one temperature and off at another. There are three basic operations that even the simplest thermostat has:


    • A HEAT, COOL and OFF switch
    • An ON or AUTO fan switch
    • A means to increase or decrease the temperature settings

     

    While these options provide functionality to your heating and cooling system, additional options may be required depending on your specific HVAC scenario. For example, a thermostat for a heat pump may include an option for auxiliary heat. The auxiliary heat switch activates the air handler’s (the most common inside component of a heat pump system) heat strips to turn on to supplement the output. 

     

    The Programmable Thermostat

     

    With the entry of the programmable thermostat, the sophistication level of indoor temperature control was elevated. Some of the early programmable thermostats could be difficult to program. The newer ones of today are more intuitive and simpler to operate by comparison. By pre-programming temperature settings that align with lifestyles and preferences, homeowners can create an environment that makes their family most comfortable and potentially save money in the process. A programmable thermostat or control system can save you as much as $180 every year in energy costs when properly programmed.1

    If you need assistance with determining set points times and temperatures, ENERGY STAR® suggests the following:2 

    Programmable thermostat recommendations 

    The Smart Thermostat or Control System

     

    But as today’s consumers are increasingly looking for ways to connect their lives and homes, intelligent heating and cooling devices are becoming more commonly accepted. Enter the smart thermostat or control system; a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance.3

     

    In late 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever ENERGY STAR® specification for smart thermostats. “The challenge in identifying household thermostats that save energy is accounting for how an individual or family ultimately sets the temperature.”4 “Anyone who cares about energy savings but is too busy to think about their heating and cooling use can be assured that these products have shown they help other busy families,” said Abi Daken, program manager for ENERGY STAR® HVAC products.5

     

    When integrated with popular consumer electronics, homeowners now have the option of even more sophisticated indoor temperature control than with previous traditional or basic programmable thermostats. For example, both the Amazon Echo and Google Home integrate with the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort App to provide advanced inter-connectivity and voice control ability.

     

    Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker that uses Alexa Voice Assistant to control devices in your home.


    • The Amazon Echo allows direct control of certain smart thermostats or control systems, taking your home comfort to the next level.
    • Homeowners can install the Alexa App on their smart home device. Once installed, you can search for the “skills” list for your particular smart thermostat. Amazon Alexa puts you in command of your home through voice controls that can be used with individual smart thermostats or group names. Here are a two examples of the commands you can use to operate your thermostat hands-free:
      • The family cooking session was too hot. Ask Alexa to cool down the room. Command: “Alexa, lower the temperature by 3 degrees.”
      • Too chilly for your guests? Alexa can make it warmer. Say: “Alexa, raise the temperature by 2 degrees.”

     

    Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant.


    • Homeowners can control their smart thermostat control system hands-free, receive important notifications and automate their home to react to your unique preferences.
    • Simply install the Google Home app onto your smartphone and link your smart thermostat in a few easy steps.
    • A simple voice command like "Ok Google, set the temperature to 72 degrees" can provide automated home comfort.

     

    Even without these dedicated smart devices, homeowners may be able to control certain smart thermostats or control systems directly through a smartphone and/or tablet app. When a compatible smart thermostat or control system is installed, a coordinating App may be able to remotely monitor and manage home comfort, and possibly energy use anytime, anywhere.

     

    In the near future, a thermostat or control system mounted on a home’s wall may not even be necessary. The dawn of a home without a thermostat or control system may be just around the corner.

     

    Affordable Goodman Products

    1 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.

    2 "A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling." August 2009. Energy Star. <https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf>.

    3 ENERGY STAR®. Certified Products. 2017. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/smart_thermostats. 27 March 2017.

    4, 5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ENERGY STAR® Ends the Thermostat Wars by Introducing FIrst-Ever Smart Thermostat Specification. 1 March 2017. <https://www.energystar.gov/about/content/energy_star_ends_thermostat_wars_introducing_first_ever_smart_thermostat_specification>.



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  • Why Does my Neighbor's Air Conditioner Sound Loud?

    Loud AC

    As they say, silence in golden! However, there is something special about the sounds of children playing, birds chirping in the trees and the soft hum of an air conditioner in the warm summer months.  But if you have recently upgraded your air conditioner and are enjoying the benefits of a quieter operation, you may notice some new sounds that weren’t so obvious before — especially the sound of your neighbor’s air conditioner!


    The Sound of Indoor Comfort

     

    When you are in a library, even a whisper can seem loud. If your air conditioner was upgraded from a single-stage, inefficient unit to a two-stage or variable speed, high efficiency system, you might be enjoying a quieter outdoor environment, but you may be more aware of other surrounding sounds! Simply stated, your new energy efficient system has operational noise levels lower than the old inefficient heating and cooling system you replaced. The noise from your old unit covered up the noise from your neighbors system. When your unit’s noise is reduced, suddenly it may seem like the neighbor’s unit got louder but that may not be accurate.


    When an air conditioning system turns ON and OFF, it creates sound. If the thermostat or control system detects that it is too hot indoors, a single-stage air conditioning system will turn on at full power and move cooled, conditioned air at one consistent speed until the thermostat setting was /is satisfied. When the indoor temperature reached the setting, then the whole system shuts down just as quickly as it started.

    A two-stage air conditioning system is designed to operate lower and higher speed options, minimizing the effect of full ON  or  OFF cycling compared to single speed units. Two-speed and variable speed systems do tend to run longer because they were engineered to maintain consistent indoor comfort at the lower speed. This may also reduce the ON/OFF noise when compared to a single stage unit because it cycles less often.  


    A variable speed unit can adjust output levels at various speeds depending on the thermostat or control system settings. These systems tend to run for longer periods but at a lower capacity to maintain indoor comfort.  


    Listen Up!

     

    A sporadic  ON/OFF cycle may catch your attention, but when an air conditioner’s soft hum amplifies into something else, neighbors may start to take notice. Air conditioning components are designed and engineered to contribute to the efficient transfer of heat and movement of cool, conditioned air. As a result, there are lots of sound-producing moving parts! Yet, when a component’s intended function is compromised, an air conditioner’s hum may turn into a buzzing roar, rattle or screech.  If there is a significant change in sounds, it may be a signal to contact a licensed professional HVAC dealer for an inspection. 

     

    There are certain noises that are the result of a particular action. If you bang two pots together, you will get a clanging sound.  In an air conditioner, a rattling sound may indicate that the fan blade may need an adjustment or be cleaned of debris. Changes in the particular sound coming from an air conditioner may indicate:

    • Loose parts, bearings or motor components
    • Dirt or debris is interfering with proper operation
    • A particular part is out of balance
    • Bearings need lubrication
    • Piping to the inside is rubbing against an object
    • Coils need to be cleaned
    • Air filter needs to be changed
    • An issue with the compressor


    Measures in Maintenance

     

    Notating new sounds may assist an HVAC dealer with determining the probable cause and a potential fix. Regular maintenance performed by a licensed professional HVAC dealer may ward off noise-inducing malfunctions, potentially reduce the cooling emergencies and help extend the life of your system. While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may include the inspection of sound producing elements as well as:

    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Inspect refrigerant lines
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Inspect exterior fan and lubricate moving parts
    • Check and tighten and loose electrical connections
    • Inspect system controls
    • Replace parts that are showing wear and tear


    Resounding Air

     

    If unusual noises are coming from the air registers (the vents where the conditioned air is blown into a room), ductwork should be inspected. Loose or ill-fitting ducts, as well as debris in the ductwork, may reverberate or echo sounds through the registers into living spaces.

    An air condition system is intentionally sized and installed to move a specific amount of air. When unusual sounds come from the register, it may indicate a pressure imbalance between the air drawn into the system and cooled, conditioned air flowing into the indoor spaces. If the air filter or supply vents are blocked, intake duct work is impaired or too many registers are closed off, the pressure and the speed of the air may change from intended set up, possibly increasing the sound level.  A professional licensed HVAC dealer can inspect the air conditioning system to determine if proper air flow is being compromised.  

     

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  • Why Is My Utility Bill Increasing?

    Increasing Utility Bill?

    You know it’s coming — that dreaded utility bill every month!

    You have tried to keep your budget in check, but you also want the temperature to be comfortable in your home! Deep in your soul, are you wondering if the source of your high utility bill is your inefficient heating or cooling equipment? Why do you feel guilty every time you adjust the temperature on your thermostat or control system? Let’s do some soul searching!


    Age and Maintenance

     

    As you may have heard, some things get better with age — wine, jeans, and maybe you! The good news is that properly installed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment is designed to perform the job it was intended for:  to heat and cool your home for many, many comfortable years.

     

    However, just like you, HVAC equipment may lose efficiency over time if not appropriately maintained. Routine maintenance can play a big part in maximizing the longevity and maintaining the energy-efficient performance your equipment. It’s as important as going to the dentist! Take care of what’s important, and it should take care of you.

     

    Over time, lapses in annual maintenance may impact the delicate balancing act between HVAC equipment, air flow, and mechanics. If one or more components are not functioning as designed, the entire system may be affected and impact longevity and efficiency. Routine maintenance may extend the life of your HVAC equipment and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time.1


    Operating Costs

     

    If your HVAC equipment was installed in 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers had just won their fifth Super Bowl, and average residential, retail price for electricity was 10.40¢ per Kilowatt hour.2  As long as you were a Pittsburgh fan and your HVAC equipment was installed properly, life may have been pretty good in your house!

     

    But in 2016 the average residential electricity price per Kilowatt hour was 12.55¢, and it doesn’t look like electricity is getting any cheaper.3 The Energy Information Administration forecasts the July 2018 price to be near 13.33¢ per Kilowatt hour4, which may impact your utility bill even more! 

     

    Fortunately, technology improvements have resulted in higher energy efficiency ratings for new indoor comfort systems. Yet, unless you implement these advancements, alter your electricity usage, or make an effort to increase your home’s insulation or R-value, your utility costs may have risen nearly 21% in 10 years.


    Efficiency Standards and Features

     

    You may think that you are saving money by putting off the installation of new heating or cooling equipment, but it may be costing you more than you think. Today’s high-efficiency systems may dramatically reduce energy usage, thereby lowering your monthly cooling bills.

     

    Since 2006, the minimum energy efficiency standards of HVAC equipment, such as SEER, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) numbers have been on an upward trajectory, providing homeowners with greater options of energy efficient heating and cooling systems. It’s increasingly common to see residential HVAC equipment such as air conditioner and heat pumps reaching 18 SEER, 9.5 HSPF performance, and natural gas furnaces with efficiency ratings up to 98% AFUE.

     

    Energy-efficient features, such as variable speed fans, variable speed compressors, and heat exchanger technology have also ushered in a new era of HVAC equipment. Not only do these features offer the benefits of increased energy efficiency when compared to some older or base models, but they may also help keep your budget in check and greatly improve your overall comfort level in your home.

     

    But high-efficient HVAC equipment with innovative technology is only one piece of the puzzle. If other key energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like. Additional factors that can influence heating and cooling efficiency levels include, but are not limited to:

    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • Installation and maintenance schedule
    • Insulation and construction methods
    • Windows and doors

     


    If you are curious how your indoor heating and cooling equipment may be affecting your monthly utility bill or want to learn ways to improve efficiency, talk to your local professional licensed HVAC dealer. 

    Goodman Find a Dealer

     

    1 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner
    2,3 U.S. EIA. (2017, May). Monthly Energy Review, Average Retail Prices of Electricity. Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec9_11.pdf

    4 Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved from US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/electricity.cfm

     

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  • A Great Reason Why Your Air Conditioner Might Be Running All Day!

    Good Reasons Why an AC Runs All Day

    When you think of “slow and steady”, you don’t often think of air conditioners – especially when it’s hotter than blazes outside.  You’re likely looking for quick and fast indoor relief.  Select air conditioners and heat pumps offer a new technology that can help reduce indoor temperatures at 100% capacity, but also feature a “slow and steady” option. This option may actually help improve your home’s indoor comfort level while reducing energy consumption! So when it comes to home cooling – a slow and steady option may win the race on energy-efficient, refreshingly cool indoor comfort!


    The Start vs Slow and Steady

     

    Electricity usage usually surges each time an HVAC system turns on. The more often it has to turn ON, the more electricity it uses.


    You may be thinking, “The more often my air conditioner runs, the more energy it will consume and the higher my utility bills will be.” But according to a study by the Department of Energy, “Operating fan motors or compressors at lower speeds for longer periods of time can lead to reduced total energy consumption.”1


    This is why air conditioners or heat pumps with compressors that can run at lower speeds for a longer period of time may actually use less energy than equipment with only one, 100% speed option. These energy-efficient compressors may increase the length of the unit’s run time, but they consume less electricity compared to units that only offer ON/OFF cycling! Slow and steady cooling may help you save on your cooling energy costs!

    Compressors

     

    An air conditioner or heat pump’s compressor creates the cooling capacity for the system and can come in single-stage, two-stage or variable-speed options. Each of these compressors offers the ability to run at 100% capacity when demand requires it.


    Single-Stage:
    Traditionally, base model compressors are single-stage, which means the compressor runs full ON or is OFF.  With these models, your cooling system turns ON at 100% capacity and then OFF until your thermostat or control system reaches the temperature setting you have selected. 

     

    For example, if your single-stage unit has a 3-ton capacity (measured in capacity, not weight), it will use all 3-tons or 100% capacity to cool your indoor space. The unit will cycle ON and OFF as many times as necessary to meet your indoor temperature request!


    Two-Stage:
    Two-stage compressors offer two capacity options. It’s like having two units built into one — a low capacity one to handle a smaller demand and a larger one to meet heavier demands. If conditions exist that 100% capacity is not required, a two-stage compressor can operate at the lower speed, offering part-capacity to reach your desired indoor temperature.

     

    While this may mean that your unit’s ON cycle time will be lengthened, the power needed to support the lower speed would be reduced compared to a simple, single-speed system.

     

    Variable Speed: Variable speed compressor technology allows the unit to run at the speed that best meets your comfort needs coupled with energy-efficient operation. A variable speed air conditioner or heat pump is designed and engineered specifically to provide the output needed at the lowest consumption of power.   

     

    Just like a car’s various gears, variable speed compressors can operate at various levels of output depending on the conditions. Systems with variable speed technology may run at full capacity on hot summer days or reduced capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a single-speed unit.

     

    Once the indoor temperature you set on the thermostat or control system is achieved, the variable speed unit will strive to operate at the lowest speed possible to deliver consistent, energy-efficient comfort in your home.

     

    Because a variable speed air conditioner or heat pump can adjust capacity for demand, it may run longer than a single-stage unit under the same conditions. However, as the Department of Energy suggests, operating the compressor at lower speeds for a longer duration may reduce the total energy consumption required to cool your indoor spaces of your home without a loss of the unit’s ability to cool your home.


    Added Benefits of Extended Run Times

     

    A two-stage or variable speed system may run longer than your traditional single speed HVAC system, but at a level that requires less energy. But in addition to energy savings, this slow and steady operation offers some additional comfort benefits when compared to a single-speed unit:

     

    Extended Dehumidification Process – Heat pumps and air conditioners use the refrigeration cycle process to cool your home.  During this process, moisture, in the form of humidity, is removed from the indoor air in your home. Longer run times create the opportunity for more indoor air to be dehumidified. This may improve the balance between temperature and humidity, providing you with more comfortable interior air.

     

    Consistent Indoor Comfort – Two-stage and variable-speed technology may minimize the temperature swings often found with single-stage equipment. Rather than shutting down until your thermostat or control system recognizes the need for cooler indoor air, the optional run speeds prolong the set temperature of your spaces. This allows for a more steady and consistent comfort in your home when compared to the temperature fluctuations that can be associated with a single-stage compressor.

     

    Air Filtering – The extended run time afforded by two-stage or variable speed units may increase the amount of time for the air to circulate and interact with filters or additional air quality system components. However, as with traditional systems, it is important to change out your air filters and indoor air quality essentials according to your HVAC dealer or manufacturer’s recommendations.

     

    While extended run times can be beneficial with a two-stage or variable speed unit, single-stage air conditioners should cycle ON and OFF as demand requires. If you find that your single-stage air conditioner or heat pump is experiencing extended run times in comparison to normal operation, it may be a signal to contact your local licensed professional HVAC dealer for a system evaluation. 

    Goodman® AC & Heat Pumps


    1 Navigant Consulting, I. (2013, December). US Department of Energy. Retrieved from Energy Savings Potential and Opportunitys for High-Efficiency Electric Motors in Residental and Commercial Equipment: https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/02/f8/Motor%20Energy%20Savings%20Potential%20Report%202013-12-4.pdf


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  • 10 Common Air Conditioner Myths – BUSTED!

    air conditioner myths

    1. MYTH:
    The bigger the air conditioner, the better it will cool my house.

    BUSTED: Oversize units may create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house reaches the desired temperature. This “cycling” may end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit, affecting your indoor comfort level, and influencing your overall energy costs.

    When an air conditioner is sized and installed properly by a professional HVAC technician, it will cycle on and off at various intervals to maintain the temperature setting on the thermostat or control system. It is not unusual for an air conditioner to operate using long on and off cycles. In fact, this is preferred for energy efficient performance and humidity removal. When a unit is not properly sized and installed, the unit may cycle on and off quickly and quite frequently. This situation may not allow the unit to operate as efficiently as it was designed and indoor comfort is risked because the unit cannot remove enough humidity. While a bigger unit may seem to offer powerful cooling performance, a unit sized properly is the best option for long term durability and comfort.

    2. MYTH: Setting a thermostat or control system to an extreme cold temperature will cool the house faster! 

    BUSTED: If the indoor temperature us 78 degrees, setting your thermostat to 40 degrees, for example, will not cool your house any faster than setting it at 70 degrees. Most HVAC systems’ airflow cools at a set point.  Once the system starts, it will reach the designated temperature sometime thereafter.1 Temperature settings on a thermostat or control system do not equate to the speed of cooling.

    3. MYTH: Price should be the deciding factor when purchasing an air conditioner!

    BUSTED: There are many factors to consider when you are in the process of purchasing and installing an air conditioner. Be certain to make your selection and choice based upon your specific comfort needs, budget, and anticipated length of time you will be in your current home.

    Enhanced energy savings can result in real, tangible returns when you invest in a high-efficiency system, especially when compared to your old unit or today’s base-efficiency models. Labor costs can vary depending on the complexity of the installation, the quality of your existing duct work and any regulations that may influence how much a new energy efficient fully installed cooling system will cost.

    4. MYTH: Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house!

    BUSTED: It may seem like a money-saving option, but turning off your HVAC system when you leave the house may create problems that lead to additional expenses. Your air conditioner plays an important role in humidity management, a key component in minimizing indoor air quality issues. Additionally, if temperatures become extreme during your absence, it may take your system a long time to restore a comfortable temperature upon your return.

    5. MYTH: The location of a thermostat location isn’t important.

    BUSTED: The location of your thermostat can affect your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency. A thermostat or control system should be installed on an interior wall of your home. This limits its exposure to direct sunlight, drafts, doorway, skylights and windows.2

    6. MYTH: Closing vents to select rooms in your home will save you money.

     

    BUSTED: A properly installed HVAC system should be sized and balanced according to the specific amount of air to be circulated in a home. However, when you close vents, you may throw off the balance of the system or change the way air is distributed resulting in temperatures that make the rest of the house uncomfortable.3

     

    Before closing vents, discuss concerns with your licensed or professional HVAC dealer. Since each HVAC system set up is site specific, a dealer should be able to help you decide whether certain vents can be closed to reduce the amount of space in your home that is being cooled.

     

    7. MYTH: Maintenance plans have no effect on an air conditioner’s efficiency.

     

    BUSTED: Professional licensed HVAC dealers are equipped to identify airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential concerns. To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, homeowners should schedule routine maintenance for detailed check-ups. Air conditioner maintenance may prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time and possibly extend the life of your HVAC equipment.

     

    8. MYTH: The air conditioning unit needs new refrigerant every year.

     

    BUSTED: Refrigerant charge, which directly affects the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner, should exactly match the manufacturer's specification.4 Refrigerant should not be undercharged nor overcharged.

    Today, there are two basic types of refrigerant. R-22 is currently being phased out of use. This chlorine containing refrigerant was a very  common refrigerant for many years. R-410A is the refrigerant that is used in all new air conditioner units.  It’s chlorine free and supports higher levels of heat transfer that help the energy efficiency level of the unit. You cannot mix one refrigerant into a unit that uses the other refrigerant. Ask your professional licensed HVAC dealer for help regarding the refrigerant in your central air conditioner.

    9. MYTH: Purchasing an energy-efficient air conditioner will not save you in energy costs.

    BUSTED: High SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) air conditioners typically cost less to run than their lower SEER counterparts under the same conditions. However, there are multiple variables that play into the energy costs associated with air conditioning use. Correct equipment sizing, sealed ducts, filter cleanliness and your home’s energy efficiency contributes to the overall expense of cooling your home.

    A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is not installed properly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!5  “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.5  

    10. MYTH: I dust and vacuum my house, so I don’t need to change my air filters.

    BUSTED: According to the Department of Energy, replacing a clogged filter with a clean one can help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%. Dirty filters block airflow and can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. Depending on the filter purchased,  filters should be replaced every 30-90 days.  Check your filter’s instructions for recommended replacement dates.  Also, depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates can affect how often you should replace your filters. Your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.6

    find an independent Goodman dealer


    1 ENERGY STAR. Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/programmable_thermostats/proper_use_guidelines. 27 March 2017.

    2 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.

    3 ENERGY STAR. Does it help to close vents in rooms not being used during the day? n.d. https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211439388-Does-it-help-to-close-vents-in-rooms-not-being-used-during-the-day-. 28 March 2017.

    4 Department of Energy. Common Air Conditioner Problems. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/common-air-conditioner-problems. 28 March 2017.

    5 Domanski, Piotr A, Hugh I. Henderson and W. Vance Payne. "Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance." October 2014. <http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf>.

    6 Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling. n.d. https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-cooling.

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  • HVAC Maintenance Service Call: What to Expect

    HVAC technician

    Now that you’ve found an HVAC contractor to conduct contracted maintenance, it’s time to prepare for the technician’s visit.

    Before The Technician Arrives


    If possible, you should locate and write down the manufacturer name and model number of the equipment from your initial bill of sale so it is immediately available to the technician upon their arrival at your home. If this information is not available from your paperwork, a homeowner should not attempt to open any equipment in order to access this information.

    During The Visit


    Your HVAC technician may perform a complete system check. This can include looking over all parts of a system, cleaning it, and performing the routine maintenance specific to your system. Depending on the equipment being evaluated, a routine HVAC maintenance service call may include the following:  
    • Inspecting main HVAC components
    • Checking for adequate air flow
    • Inspection of refrigerant lines
    • Clearing drain lines and pans
    • Inspecting exterior fan
    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspecting system controls
    • Inspecting and lubricating moving parts
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Replacing air filters
    • Checking electrical connections

    If the technician discovers that your ductwork is leaking, they may recommend duct sealing. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a typical U.S. home loses 20%-30% of duct system air due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.”  A license professional technician can seal your ductwork. According to the DOE, sealing HVAC air ducts can drastically reduce duct leakage and improve both IAQ and overall system efficiency.

    Follow Up


    Making sure your HVAC equipment is routinely serviced by a professional HVAC technician is as important as taking your car to a mechanic for its required oil changes and maintenance. If an extended service contract or agreement is not already in place, technicians may often offer to set up a maintenance agreement wherein the customer agrees to pay a set fee for standardized scheduled system maintenance. Routine maintenance may extend the life of your HVAC equipment and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time.

    cta-outline_find-dealer

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer.
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  • Three Good Reasons to Upgrade and Replace Your Air Conditioner

    Choose a high-efficiency air conditioner

    The moment an air conditioner fails is typically when you need it the most! So if your AC is not cooling your home, it's time to call your air conditioner contractor.

    But despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you should replace your unit rather than repair it. Age, condition, and performance expectations are often three good factors to consider when deciding if you should replace your current AC unit.1

    Repairs, Repairs, Repairs


    Air conditioning repairs can be inconvenient, but continuous repairs can become expensive! Even with the help of a highly skilled HVAC contractor, an air conditioner may start to show its age.  To keep costs under control, you may want to establish a repair cost cutoff point - meaning that you will replace your air conditioner if repairs cost more than your set amount.  At that point, you may want to start researching new energy-efficient air conditioners.

    How expensive does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? If a major piece of equipment fails or the repair cost is close to 1/2 the price a new air conditioner, it may be better to replace the system.2 Yet, you should always discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a better idea of repair costs and the predicted lifespan of your current AC unit.

    Energy Efficiency


    Who wouldn’t want to save money on their monthly energy bills? According to EnergyStar, your heating and cooling system may be responsible for up to half of your energy bill.  There could be many reasons for your high energy bills, but your air conditioning unit SEER rating, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, may a contributing factor. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the unit will use. Your professional or licensed technician should be able to let you know if a higher SEER unit is right for you.

    SmarterHouse.org states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment. If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, you may save up to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.3

    Energystar.gov’s online assessment tool can be used to compare your home's annual energy use to similar homes in your area. The site suggests that if your home scores below a five, “you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.”4

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets regional minimum energy efficiency standards for air conditioners. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.  

    The Right Size for Cool Comfort


    People often believe that “bigger is better.” But, when talking about your air conditioner, “bigger” can be bad. An air conditioner shouldn’t be too big or too small; it has to be just the right size to cool your home efficiently.

    When sized and installed properly, an air condition unit typically reaches maximum energy efficiency within a few minutes after starting up.  But if cycle times are shortened, and the unit continuously turns on and off, it may not hit peak efficiency.  Oversized air conditioner units can create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house is cool. This can end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit, affect your indoor comfort level, and influence your overall energy costs.

    Your home’s layout, ventilation system, and building materials play a major role in determining the proper tonnage needed to cool your home. An air condition unit is measured in tonnage, but it’s not based on the actual weight of the equipment. A ton measures your air conditioner’s ability to cool. In case you really want to know:

    One ton = the ability to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) in an hour

    It sounds strange, but your AC’s tonnage may be different from your neighbor’s home with the same square footage. Your home’s details should be evaluated by your licensed or professional technician at when sizing your air conditioner.   “A right-sized air conditioner is an important part of an energy-efficient home and will result in improved comfort, durability, and lower utility bills.”5

    If your current aging air conditioner is the wrong size, the SEER rating is low, and it requires multiple or high-dollar repairs, you may want to consider replacing your system! To find out if your current central cooling system should be replaced, contact a local, independent HVAC contractor.

    cta-outline_stay-cool

    1 Buying Tips. (2015). Retrieved from Smarterhouse: http://smarterhouse.org/cooling-systems/buying-tips
    2 Repair or Replace. (n.d.). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm
    3 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
    4 When is it Time to Replace? n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers
    5 EnergyStar. "RIGHT-SIZED AIR CONDITIONERS ." n.d. EnergyStar.gov. https://www.energystar.gov/ia/home_improvement/home_sealing/RightSized_AirCondFS_2005.pdf
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  • Seasonal Heating and Air Conditioning Maintenance

    Preseason HVAC maintenance

    It’s an annual rite of passage – flipping the thermostat or control system from “heat” to “cool” or “cool” to “heat!”   As the seasons change, so do your indoor heating and cooling needs. You want to be sure that your HVAC system is working properly and ready for that switch. No one likes to make that dreaded HVAC emergency call on coldest or hottest weekend of the year!

    Why Schedule Pre-Season Maintenance?


    HVAC systems strive to meet your desired indoor temperature expectations! Creating a comfortable temperature in your home is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Proper HVAC maintenance can help maintain this balance despite the system’s consistent starting and stopping, and on-demand operation.

    Seasonal preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling system may guard against many unexpected failures and could maximize the lifecycle of your heating or cooling unit.1 Preseason inspections may uncover leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires and/or corroded electrical contacts on your air conditioner or heat pump that can lead to bigger equipment failures if left untreated.

    Proper maintenance may also keep your system running at peak performance levels.  “Effective maintenance can reduce HVAC energy costs by 5 to 40 percent depending on the system or equipment involved.”2


    When do I Schedule Seasonal Maintenance?


    HVAC dealers can get very busy when summer temperatures spike and cold, bone-chilling weather takes hold.  It is a good idea to plan seasonal maintenance prior to these peak service call times. Many dealers offer preseason specials on inspection packages during their typical slow times of the year, usually in the spring and the fall depending on the climate.

    What Does HVAC Seasonal Maintenance Include?


    There is no industry standard for what is included in an HVAC preseason “tune-up,” so specific work may vary greatly from contractor to contractor. Preseason specials may not include all of the suggested maintenance recommend by your system’s manufacturer(s). As a result, it’s important to understand what maintenance your system will be receiving, and the total cost for the job.

    Depending on the agreement, your HVAC technician may perform a complete system check that includes inspection and necessary cleaning of HVAC equipment, parts and components. Be sure you understand what you are getting in your season maintenance package!

    Air conditioning system maintenance may include, but is not limited to:

    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspecting system controls
    • Cleaning and inspecting coils
    • Lubricating moving parts
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Cleaning or replacing filters
    • Cleaning and checking blowers and fans
    • Checking refrigerant and pressures
    • Verifying operating temperatures

    Gas furnace system maintenance may include, but is not limited to:

    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspect piping for leaks or cracks
    • Cleaning and checking blowers and fans
    • Inspect and clean gas burners
    • Examine ignition switch
    • Inspect heat exchanger
    • Inspect and clean flue
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Inspecting system controls

    Don’t Ignore Sitting Ducts


    Ducts are an important part of your entire HVAC system and shouldn’t be ignored. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a typical U.S. home loses 20%-30% of duct system air due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.3 That can sacrifice your indoor comfort and may increase your energy usage. Although it may not be included with a seasonal maintenance package, your professional licensed technician can inspect your ductwork.

    Filtration technology has made significant advances in residential air filters over the past decade, but dust may still find its way into your home's ducts. If you are concerned about indoor air quality issues, the culprit could be dirty ductwork. After a ductwork inspection, your technician may recommend duct cleaning, sealing or specialized indoor air quality accessories.

    cta-outline_find-dealer

    1 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. n.d. <http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner>.
    2 Studies Show: HVAC System Maintenance Saves Energy. September 2011. http://www.buildingefficiencyinitiative.org/articles/studies-show-hvac-system-maintenance-saves-energy. February 2017.
    3 Duct Sealing - ENERGY STAR. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_ducts. February 2017.
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  • Why DIY HVAC is a Bad Idea?

    HVAC maintenance should be done by a licensed professional

     

    As a do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiast, you may be able to paint a room, install a ceiling fan, or even change the oil in your car. But heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) installation and repairs should be left to the professional licensed HVAC dealer!

    Creating comfortable indoor temperatures is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. A qualified licensed HVAC contractor is crucial to quality installations and repairs.

     

    But I Watched a “HOW TO HVAC” Video…

     

    There are many DIY’ers that watch a YouTube video and believe that they can install or repair a product.  But for home heating and cooling systems, it takes more than “How To” videos to become a professional licensed HVAC technician. Professional experience plays a major role in safely and successfully installing and repairing your HVAC equipment. In some areas of the country, technicians are required to be licensed. DIY HVAC may not be worth the costly consequences.

    Required Qualifications and Skills


    Residential HVAC systems are complex systems with many components. Dealers often have years of training before they become experts in residential indoor comfort systems. In some locations, HVAC contractors must register for a professional HVAC license and/or pass tests for applicable certifications.


    As new products and engineered technologies are introduced into the HVAC world, licensed or professional HVAC technicians often receive additional training. This training may expand their skill set and how to align product advancements to a home’s current HVAC set up. Your home’s HVAC configurations may be unique and require specific knowledge in order to properly repair or install the advanced equipment, parts or technology that is available on the market. 

     

    Dealers are often offered ongoing training opportunities from HVAC manufacturers in order to keep up with the latest innovations. The unlicensed weekend DIY’er does not have the industry-specific resources, knowledge or skills that are available to HVAC professionals!


    The Unlicensed DIY’er

     

    The unlicensed DIY’er may not understand the critical components within a particular HVAC system. Installation or repair without licensed or professional HVAC technician may lead to damaged equipment, compromised system efficiency, and voided warranties.  The following are a few reasons why NOT to take on DIY HVAC:

     

    Experience and professional requirements: It’s important to make sure your local HVAC technician is experienced, qualified, and backs their work. Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training.  Be sure you are working with a professional or licensed HVAC contractor who is willing to provide a limited warranty for their work and products installed. Doing the job properly the first time may help eliminate the need for repeat visits, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance. However, a license may not reflect actual installation expertise.


    Refrigerant:
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release ozone depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques. Individuals cannot buy refrigerants without the appropriate EPA 608 Certification. Unless you have this certification, do not attempt to handle air condition coolants.


    Ventilation Requirements:
    National, regional and local HVAC codes and manufacturers installation guidelines may have specific ventilation requirements for HVAC equipment. Your local licensed or professional HVAC contractor should have sufficient knowledge in HVAC safety code in your particular area.


    Electricity:
    There can be shocking consequences when homeowners start working with their home’s electrical components. According to 2016 National Fire Protection Agency1, an estimated 48,000 home structure fires caused by electrical problems were reported to U.S. fire departments. Handling the wiring and electrical needs of HVAC equipment requires a trained electrician or skilled technician.  


    Gases:
    Natural gas is the most common type of home heating fuel. It provides nearly 57% of American homes with heat.2 However, it is critical that a license or professional HVAC technician properly install or repair gas heating systems per manufacturer specifications.


    It’s About the Details


    As mentioned, proper HVAC operation is the result of the delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Professional or licensed HVAC dealers should be trained in necessary and precise calculations such as volumes, loads, weight, flow rate, and more. If one or more variables are out of sync, the entire system’s operation and your indoor comfort may suffer.  An experienced HVAC technician has the necessary tools required to calculate the right sized unit for your home, and ensure each calculation and measurement pertains to your specific HVAC needs.

     

    HVAC systems are significant investments in your home. While DIY may seem like a good idea for your wallet, the long-term consequences may end up costing you for many years to come.


    Find an Independent Goodman Dealer

     

    1 News Releases, NFPA emphasizes importance of electrical fire safety during National Electrical Safety Month. (2016, May 3). Retrieved from National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/news-and-media/press-room/news-releases/2016/nfpa-emphasizes-importance-of-electrical-fire-safety-during-national-electrical-safety-month

    2 Energy saver 101: Home Heating. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.Gov: https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-heating

     

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  • The Urgent AC Repair Service Call

    Urgent AC repair service call


    Have you ever walked through the door to your home and realized it’s very hot and humid on the inside? It may be time to make that dreaded HVAC urgent service call to your local professional or licensed dealer.

     

    Before making the urgent service call, a homeowner needs to do some simple detective work. It’s helpful if the technician understands your air conditioning issue when they arrive at your home. The three most common calls related to air conditioners are:1

    • AC unit turns on but isn’t cooling properly
    • AC unit isn’t turning on
    • Air flow velocity is reduced


    Common Air Conditioning Problems

     

    Maintaining a comfortable and consistent temperature in your home is a delicate balancing act between the air conditioning equipment, air flow, and mechanics. If one or more components are not functioning as designed, the entire system may be affected. In order to understand the air conditioning language used by your technician, it may be helpful to learn "How an Central AC System Works", and a few key parts of your cooling system.

     

    The Department of Energy (DOE)2 highlights a few of the most common air conditioning problems that your HVAC technician may discover. If cool air isn’t flowing or you AC won’t turn on, your technician may inspect one of more of the following:

    1. Refrigerant: Low or leaking refrigerant will minimize the cooling capacity or your air conditioner. If there is an issue with the refrigerant, your technician may attempt to identify and repair the leak and recharge the system
    2. Thermostat or Control System: Dead batteries in a thermostat or control system may prevent your unit from turning on. If the unit turns on but isn’t cooling properly, your technician may perform a test to ensure it is set properly and that it is reading the correct temperatures.
    3. Electric and Electronic Controls: If the unit is not operating, the compressor, fan controls or capacitor could be worn out or electric connections may have been affected by the system’s consistent starting and stopping, and on-demand operation.
    4. Condensate Drainage: If the unit isn’t cooling properly, the technician may check condensate drains to be sure they are not clogged.
    5. Air Filters: Clogged air filters can restrict airflow and decrease your air conditioner’s ability to remove humidity from the indoor air effectively.
    6. Ductwork: Leaking, constricted or clogged ductwork can interfere or even cut off conditioned air from getting to your indoor living spaces. 

     

    Your HVAC technician may suggest replacing your air conditioner rather than repairing it if they discover a costly issue on an aging and inefficient unit. While there are a lot of variables in determining whether an AC should be repaired or replaced, your contractor can provide the best guidance because they understand the details associated with your particular system.

    Before the HVAC Technician Arrives

     

    If possible, you should locate and write down the manufacturer name and model number of the equipment from your initial bill of sale so it is immediately available to the technician upon their arrival at your home. If this information is not available from your paperwork, a homeowner should not attempt to open any equipment in order to access this information. If your air conditioning system is covered by a limited warranty, be certain to tell your HVAC technician.


    Follow Up

     

    Routine maintenance can be a big part of maximizing the longevity and efficiency of your air conditioner. It is as important as taking your car to a mechanic for oil changes! If an extended service agreement is not already in place, technicians may often offer to set up a maintenance plan wherein the customer agrees to pay a set fee for standardized scheduled system maintenance. Routine maintenance may extend the life of your HVAC equipment and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time.3

    Find an independent Goodman dealer

    1, 2 Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-cooling

    3 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

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  • Simple Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips that Can Save You Money

    AC money-saving maintenance tips

    U.S. homeowners spend about $29 billion a year on energy costs associated with central air conditioning.1  That’s a lot of money to keep cool! But when AC systems aren’t running at peak performance, the cost can go up even higher - meaning larger utility bills. But with regular maintenance, you can potentially reduce your air conditioner’s cooling emergencies and help extend the life of your system.

    Just like changing the oil on your car, your central air conditioning system requires regular maintenance to run at peak performance year after year. Some routine maintenance can be handled by homeowners. However, there are other jobs that should only be performed by a professional licensed HVAC technician.  

    Below are maintenance tips to keep in mind as you look to get the best performance possible from your air conditioner.2

    DIY AC Maintenance


    Filters – According to Energy.gov, replacing a clogged filter with a clean one can help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%. Dirty filters block airflow and can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. On average, filters should be replaced every 90 days depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates. However, your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.2

    If the air condition portion of your energy bill equals $100, you may save an average of up to $15 per month just by replacing the dirty filters with clean ones!  But the real savings comes with minimizing the possible service calls for air conditioning emergencies and extending the life of your equipment!

    Exterior AC Unit - Cut back foliage and remove any debris left by nearby dryer vents, falling leaves and grass trimmings.  Anything that reduces ideal airflow can make your air condition system work harder, reduce its performance and can cost you money.2

    Fins - The fins on your evaporator or condenser coils should not be bent – this can reduce or even block airflow. To fix bent fins, contact your local HVAC professional contractor or technician. Bent fins can reduce the ability of the unit to deliver the energy efficiency you expect and might lead to premature coil failure.2

    Condensate Drains - Check the condensate drain from your central air conditioning system. The drain line should be located near the outside unit, leading from your AC unit’s indoor evaporator coil commonly located inside your home. The drain is typically a small PVC pipe; however, some drain lines may be copper.2

    Most likely, if you see a consistent drip on a hot day, the condensate drain is working properly. When condensate drains are clogged, the unit may not be able to properly reduce indoor humidity which can cause poor performance and loss of energy efficiency.

    Thermostat Batteries - Homeowners should replace batteries on their thermostat as necessary. If your particular model does not have a “low battery” signal or alert, your thermostat batteries should be replaced annually, or at the same time as the fire/CO2 detector batteries are changed.2

    Homeowners should always consult with their professional or licensed HVAC contractor to determine equipment-specific, DIY maintenance efforts that can help you keep your air conditioning system operating at peak performance levels and help reduce energy costs.

    Contractor AC Maintenance


    Trained licensed HVAC professionals are better equipped to identify any airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential failure concerns. To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, homeowners should hire an HVAC contractor to perform a more detailed check-up. The ideal time for profession HVAC maintenance is during pre-season, before you need to operate your central air conditioning system.  

    While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may likely include the following actions:
    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Look over condenser and evaporator coils
    • Check refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Check electrical connections
    • Check operation of blower components
    • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
    • Inspect Exterior Fan

    cta-outline_energy-star


    1 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
    2 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

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  • Three Good Reasons to Replace a Gas Furnace

    Indoor comfort for your family

    No one gets excited about having to replace their gas furnace. However, the idea of freezing in your home isn’t too exciting either. Despite efforts to prolong its life, there may come a time when it is better to replace your furnace rather than repair it. The decision to replace your current gas furnace often depends on one, or a combination of, age, condition, and performance.1


    Continuous Repairs


    Perhaps you have been there!  You think your HVAC system is working well, only to have to call your professional licensed HVAC contractor again, and again and again for repair after repair. Even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly skilled HVAC contractor, an aging furnace may start to show its age.


    Continuous repairs can get expensive for a homeowner. As discussed in “Eliminate Indoor Hypothermia - Furnace Repair or Furnace Replace?” you should determine your repair spending cut off point. If your repair estimate is close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching a new gas furnace before you experience a breakdown.


    How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? If key parts fail, such as the heat exchanger or control module, or repair costs are more than 50% of the cost of a new product, it may be better to replace the unit.2 However, you should always discuss repair vs replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a clearer assessment of the price tag of repairs and the predicted longevity of your existing gas furnace.


    Heating and Comfort


    The indoor comfort of your home and family is probably one of your highest priorities. Gas furnace systems can have a complicated arrangement of gas and electricity working together.  However, if one or more parts involved in delivering heat is damaged or not working as intended, your heating system has the potential to become a comfort hazard.


    According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, older furnaces that do not comply with current standard codes may pose a higher risk due to their earlier technology. “Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected, but older furnaces may not have these devices. “3


    Preventive maintenance and professional inspections are important aspects of the operation of your gas furnace.  While evaluating your gas furnace, an HVAC dealer may uncover small cracks, leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires or corroded electrical contacts that can lead to furnace failure.


    Energy Efficiency


    Energy.gov estimates that heating and cooling account for up to half of a typical home’s total energy use. As a result, a homeowner should make every effort to increase the energy efficiency of their HVAC equipment.


    To determine your home's annual energy use compared to similar homes in your area, Energystar.gov provides a simple online assessment tool. Energystar.gov suggests that a score below a five means that your home’s energy use “is above average and you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills”.4


    While there are a variety of reasons and potential fixes that can increase your energy efficiency, a licensed professional HVAC contractor may reveal that the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of your gas furnace may be the primary cause of these excessive costs.


    An older gas furnace with an AFUE rating of 70% would mean that only 70% of its fuel is used to heat your home. The remaining 30% may escape through the chimney or exhaust. That means that up to 43% of the energy used to run your furnace may be wasted.  A high-efficiency model can offer higher AFUE ratings, potentially providing significant energy efficiency and savings on utilities.


    While every homeowner’s HVAC situation and budget is unique, SmarterHouse.org, a project of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment.

    cta-outline_stay-warm

     

    1 Buying Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved Dec. 05, 2016, from Smarter House: http://smarterhouse.org/heating-systems/buying-tips

    2 Gas Furnace Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved from AHRI: http://www.ahrinet.org/Homeowners/Improve-Safety/Gas-Furnace-Safety.aspx

    3 Repair or Replace. (n.d.). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm

    4 When is it Time to Replace? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers

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  • HVAC Financing Facts

    Financing your new AC or heating equipment

    HVAC Financing Facts


    No one wants to hear those fateful words, “It’s time to replace your central heating or cooling system.” Sooner or later, no matter how long your equipment has been running, your heating and cooling system will need to be replaced. But when that time comes, your wallet may not be ready! That’s where financing can help keep you comfortable!

    What is HVAC Financing?


    HVAC financing helps spread the cost of new equipment or entire systems over a predetermined amount of time. Why dip into savings you may have earmarked for another purpose, add to an existing credit card balance or even consider a home equity line of credit? HVAC financing can be an effective means to fit a replacement system or equipment into your budget without breaking the bank.

    It is important to review financing details to make sure you understand your financial responsibility. You should review the interest rate, repayment terms and the “small print” in any potential financing contract.

    Smart Money Management


    Base your buying decision on long-term comfort and energy-efficiency. Don’t lose your cool over the initial sticker cost, or freeze up at the suggestion of a new high efficiency rated system. Enhanced energy savings can result in real, tangible returns when you invest in a high-efficiency system, especially when compared to your old unit or today’s base-efficiency units.

    A high-efficient system can also allow you to feel the difference compared to your old unit. Impactful innovations such as variable-speed fans, variable-speed compressor and heat exchanger technology have ushered in a new era of HVAC operation that enhances indoor comfort and performance.

    While your frugal urges may tempt you to opt for a base or minimum efficiency system, the least expensive option may not be the most cost effective solution considering the life cycle of a new, energy efficient system. High-efficient systems can realize uncompromised indoor comfort throughout your home, offer reoccurring savings on your monthly utility bill, and possibly increase the value of your home. Moreover, consumer financing can often cover the cost of an extended service plan. Extended service plans may minimize additional out of pocket expenses you face for the term of the service plan.

    What Do I Need for HVAC Financing Approval?


    Depending on the local contractor’s financing company, you may need to provide personal information and be subject to a credit check. Ask the dealer to provide complete information before you make a decision.

    “Each lender differs in what is required for a loan approval,” says Erin McCollum, Director of Contractor Services for EGIA. According to McCollum, typical customers who are approved for an HVAC loan may have:

    • Fair to excellent credit profiles
    • Debt to income ratio under 50%
    • No recent history of bankruptcies

    Common Financing Terminology1


    • APR (Annual Percentage Rate) - The interest charged on the loan
    • Debt to Income Ratio - The amount of a borrower's debt divided by their income
    • Equal Monthly Payments at 0% APR - A loan that is paid in equal monthly payments over a specific term with an APR of 0%
    • Fixed Interest Rate - A fixed percentage of interest that is paid over the loan term
    • Interest - Payment for the use of money over time or the amount a borrower pays to borrow money from the lender
    • No Interest, No Payment Loan - A loan in which no payments need to be made within a specific promotional time period.  If the balance is not paid at the end of the promotion period, the borrower usually pays off the interest from the loan start.
    • Sub-Prime Loan - A loan given to a borrower who doesn't meet the credit requirements for a typical loan.  Sub-prime loans have higher interest rates because they finance borrowers who may have a poor credit history, low income, and high debt to income ratios
    • Term - The time length the loan will run
    • Unsecured Loan - A loan that is given and based on a borrower's credit instead of collateral

    cta-outline_affordable


    1 Terminology was provided by the Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing energy-efficiency and renewable energy solutions through the home improvement and renewable energy industries.

     

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    • How a Heat Pump Works

      How a Heat Pump Works

      A heat pump transfers heat from one place to another.  It sounds simple, but where is the heat coming from if fuel isn’t being burned?

      An air-source heat pump uses advanced technology and the refrigeration cycle to heat and cool your home. This allows a heat pump to provide year-round indoor comfort – no matter what the season is.

      In the warmer months, the heat pump can act as an air conditioner - drawing out interior heat and humidity, and redirecting it to the outside. During colder months, heat from the outdoor air is extracted and transferred to the interior of your home. Believe it or not, even a 32°F day produces enough heat to warm your home. Science is amazing!

      For example, when there is a temperature difference such as your 98.6°F body and 32°F air, heat is transferred from the warmer object to the cooler air. This is why you start to feel cold! So when you're trying to pull heat from 32°F air, you have to put it in contact with something even colder. That's the job of the refrigerant in a heat pump.

      Colder months: Heat pumps pulls heat from the outside air and transfer the heat to your home.

      Warmer months: Heat pumps pulls warm air and humidity from inside your home and transfer it outside, leaving cooler air indoors.



      Air Conditioning Mode


      When properly installed and functioning, a heat pump can help maintain cool, comfortable temperatures while reducing humidity levels inside your home.

      1. Warm air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan.

      2. A compressor circulates refrigerant between the indoor evaporator and outdoor condensing units.

      3. The warm air indoor air then travels to the air handler while refrigerant is pumped from the exterior condenser coil to the interior evaporator coil. The refrigerant absorbs the heat as it passes over the indoor air.

      4. This cooled and dehumidified air is then pushed through connecting indoor ducts to air vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature.

      5. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.

      Heat Mode

       

      Heat pumps have been used for many years in locations that typically experience milder winters. However, air-source heat pump technology has advanced over the past five years, enabling these systems to be used in areas with extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.2

      1. A heat pump can switch from air condition mode to heat mode by reversing the refrigeration cycle, making the outside coil function as the evaporator and the indoor coil as the condenser.

      2. The refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the outdoor and the indoor unit.

      3. Although outdoor temperatures are cold, enough heat energy is absorbed from the outside air by the condenser coil and release inside by the evaporator coil.

      4. Air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan.

      5. The refrigerant is pumped from the interior coil to the exterior coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air.

      6. This warmed air is then pushed through connecting ducts to air vents throughout the home, increasing the interior temperature.

      7. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you warm.


      Parts of a Heat Pump

       

      To get a better idea of how your air is heated or cooled, it helps to know a little bit about the parts that make up the heat pump system. A typical air-source heat pump system is a split or two-part system that uses electricity as its power source. The system contains an outdoor unit that looks similar to an air conditioner and an indoor air handler. The heat pump works in conjunction with the air handler to distribute the warm or cool air to interior spaces. In addition to the electrical components and a fan, a heat pump system includes: 

      Compressor: Moves the refrigerant through the system. Some heat pumps contain a scroll compressor. When compared to a piston compressor, scroll compressors are quieter, have a longer lifespan, and provide 10° to 15°F warmer air when in the heating mode.1

      Control board: Controls whether the heat pump system should be in cooling, heating or defrost mode. 

      Coils:  The condenser and evaporating coil heat or cool the air depending on the directional flow of refrigerant. 

      Refrigerant:  The substance in the refrigeration lines that circulates through the indoor and outdoor unit.

      Reversing valves: Change the flow of refrigerant which determines if your interior space is cooled or heated. 

      Thermostatic expansion valves:  Regulate the flow of refrigerant just like a faucet valve regulates the flow of water. 

      The accumulator: A reservoir that adjusts the refrigerant charge depending on seasonal needs.

      Refrigeration lines and pipes:  Connect the inside and outside equipment.

      Heat strips: An electric heat element is used for auxiliary heat. This added component is used to add additional heat on cold days or to recover from lower set back temperatures rapidly.

      Ducts: Serve as air tunnels to the various spaces inside your home.

      Thermostat or control system: Sets your desired temperature.

      Why is There Ice on My Heat Pump?


      Don’t panic! It is quite common to see frost or even ice on your heat pump. The process of transferring heat to the refrigerant can cause excess moisture to build up on your coil. This excess moisture can freeze during extremely cold temperatures. The good news is that your heat pump was designed for this!

      A properly functioning heat pump has a defrost mode that kicks in when it detects ice buildup.  The unit simply reverses the refrigerant cycle, and the heat is directed to the outdoor coil. While this is happening, the backup or auxiliary heat strips are used to heat your home until the ice is melted.  

      However, if your heat pump does not thaw the ice buildup, it may be an indication that something isn’t working properly. If this occurs, call your local licensed profession HVAC dealer to have the unit inspected.



      cta-outline_heat-pump


      1 Heat Pump Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-systems
      2 Air-Source Heat Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/air-source-heat-pumps
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    • All-in-One Comfort: How an HVAC Packaged System Works?

      What is a Packaged Heating and Cooling System

      Let’s face it… you have stuff, and it needs space! But when indoor space is limited, you may need to find alternatives for essential heating and cooling equipment. If this sounds familiar, a packaged system may be right for you!

      Have your Cake and Eat it Too!


      A packaged system is an “all-in-one system” that can provide both cooling and heating from a single cabinet.  The cabinet system can be installed at ground level, in a crawl space or on a rooftop. The single location frees up internal spaces for “usable” square footage.

      With a packaged system, you can have space for those new shoes and have the space to be comfortable in your home! Packaged units have the main heating and cooling components in a single-boxed cabinet that sits outside the home.  It’s a package!

      Packaged units come in multiple forms:

      • Packaged Air Conditioners: The compressor, coils, air handler are all housed in a single-boxed cabinet. The packaged air conditioner can also provide limited warmth by using an electrical strip heating.
      • Packaged Heat Pumps:  A packaged heat pump uses heat pump technology to cool and heat your home.
      • Packaged Gas-Electric: The packaged gas-electric unit combines an air conditioner with gas-powered furnace performance.
      • Packaged Dual-Fuel: The packaged dual fuel system contains a heat pump, capable of heating and cooling, as well as a gas furnace. This type of packaged system optimizes the heating source for the conditions.


      How Each Packaged System Works


      Operation depends on configuration, but packaged systems typically heat and cool your home the same way their stand-alone counterparts do. The ducting with a single cabinet system is slightly different. The duct work is attached to the system rather than connecting to various components in your home.

      Packaged System Air Condition Component

      • By using electricity as its power source, the unit’s internal components cycle the refrigerant.
      • Warm air is pulled in by a fan and then passes over the cold evaporator coil, cooling it in the process.
      • The cooled, dehumidified air is pushed through ducts to the various spaces inside your home.

      Package System Heating Component

      • Packaged Air Conditioners: In addition to the typical cooling feature associated with an air conditioner, packaged air conditioners are capable of producing limited heat with heat strip elements. With electricity as the fuel source, the heat strips are warmed, and the air is heated as it flows over the strips.  The warm air then travels through ducting to increase the interior temperature of your home. This type of heating component is mainly used in warmer climates where heat is only used occasionally.
      • Packaged Heat Pumps:  The heat pump transfers heat by reversing the refrigeration cycle used by a typical air conditioner. Through a cycle of evaporation and condensation, the indoor coils are heated, and the air is pushed over the warm coils. From there, the warmed air is blown through the ductwork to increase the temperature in the interior rooms of your home.
      • Packaged Gas-Electric:  The heating component of a packaged gas-electric system is a gas furnace. The heating portion of the system uses natural gas or propane to combust inside the heat exchanger, creating heat. As cool air from the interior spaces is pulled in through the return ducting, the blower motor then blows the air over and through the hot heat exchanger, heating the air. The warm air is then circulated throughout the home through the ductwork.
      • Packaged Dual-Fuel: Your dual-fuel packaged system has two heating options, a heat pump or a gas furnace. When installed and configured correctly, your dual fuel system can determine whether it’s more economical to heat your home using electricity or gas.

      When moderate heating is required, the heat pump automatically reverses from the air condition mode to provide warm air. When temperatures fall further, the system uses the gas furnace to provide reliable, consistent heat.


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    • How a Central Gas Heating System Works

      How a gas furnace works

      Many people do not know how their central gas heating system works. They just expect it to keep them warm when the outdoor temperatures drop!  However, if you find yourself adding layers just to stay warm inside, it may be helpful to understand your central heating system.

      Bring on the BTUs!


      The heat capacity of a gas furnace is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). A BTU equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Ironically, the BTU is rarely used in Great Britain because it is a non-metric measurement.

      The higher the BTU output, the more powerful the heating system. In real world terms, the energy released by one burning match is approximately equal to one BTU.1 So now you understand why it requires thousands of BTUs to heat a typical home.

      But what is the right number of BTU's for your home?

      The Goldilocks Theory


      Too hot or too cold is uncomfortable! A central gas heating system should be able to provide a consistent amount of warmth to keep you comfortable inside your home. However, that means it must be sized correctly too! A “just right” size furnace can give the best balance of comfort and cost-efficiency. So it’s important that your licensed  professional HVAC technician makes sure that your furnace is the right size for your space!

      If your furnace is sized too small, it might not be able to keep up on colder days. And typically, you want your furnace working on cold days! Depending on the indoor vs. outdoor temperature difference, an undersized furnace may fall short! Your system may have to run continuously to try to maintain the thermostat setting. This strain can cause it to become inefficient, causing increased utility bills, and result in unnecessary wear and tear on its components.

      If your furnace is too large for your house, it will heat your home very quickly and then shut off, or "short cycle."  Repeatedly turning on and off can be hard on your furnace, potentially reducing its lifespan.  For you, an oversized furnace can cause greater temperature fluctuations inside your home. An oversized central gas heating system can create bursts of warm air. This rush of heated air can trick thermostats into shutting off the system before the whole house is at temperature. This can leave you reaching for a sweater in between cycles!

      To make sure your central gas heating system is sized properly, contact your professional licensed HVAC technician.

      How a Central Gas Furnace Works


      Simply put, a central gas heating system creates a cycle of warming cooler air. Here is the simple version:

      1. Burning propane or natural gas generates heat in the furnace's burner.
      2. The heat produced passes through a heat exchanger, making it hot.
      3. Air from the home's ductwork is blown over the heat exchanger, warming the air.
      4. The furnace's blower then forces the heated air into the supply ductwork, distributing it throughout the home.

      Of course, many central heating system components must work together to keep you comfortable.

      Temperature Control: The temperature control, which is regulated by the furnace control board, turns on the ignition switch and starts the heating process when the thermostat or control system calls for heat.

      Draft Induced Fan: The draft induced fan draws air into the burner assembly. The air also allows the burners to warm the heat exchanger then is exhausted outside of the home.

      Gas Burners:  When the thermostat or control system calls for heat, the gas burners valves are open to deliver gas and burn fuel.

      Ignition switch: Gas flows over the igniter to establish a flame. This flame is drawn through the burners and used to heat the heat exchanger.

      Heat exchanger: The part of a gas furnace that adds heat to the indoor air. The gas combusts inside the heat exchanger, creating heat that is used to heat the passing air. The design of the heat exchanger can add energy efficient operation of a gas furnace.

      Draft-Induced Fan: Draws air into the burner assembly. The air allows the burners to warm the heat exchanger.

      Blower Fan: Uses the return venting to blow air over the hot heat exchanger.  The conditioned air is then sent throughout your home via ductwork. Some furnace models offer a blower fan that can run at multiple speeds to improve efficiency.

      Flue: A flue or chimney acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products of combustion used to create heat.

      Gas furnaces come in a variety of shapes to fit your space. However, they can also be categorized by one of the following:

      • Non-condensing furnaces - vent exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.

      • Condensing furnaces - uses a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases to reach higher efficiencies.

      • A modulating gas furnace - continuously regulates the amount of fuel burned to maintain the set temperature of your thermostat. This modulating component can minimize indoor temperature fluctuations.


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      1 Energy Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/EnergyExplained/?page=about_btu
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    • What Is ENERGY STAR?

      Goodman is a proud ENERGY STAR® partner

      Every little penny counts! That’s why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program became the “most successful voluntary energy efficiency movement in history.”1 The ENERGY STAR® program highlights energy efficient products that have been certified to use less energy than their standard counterpart products. The idea is that when homeowners purchase ENERGY STAR® certified products, they can save money on energy costs.

      When your home’s heating and cooling can account for up to 42% of your energy bill, purchasing ENERGY STAR® certified products to use less energy may help you keep more of your hard-earned dollars.2

      ENERGY STAR® Certification


      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all ENERGY STAR® products to be third-party certified. Products are tested in an EPA-recognized laboratory and reviewed by an EPA-recognized certification body prior to being ENERGY STAR® certified.3 ENERGY STAR® heating and cooling products must be proven to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality.

      In order to become an ENERGY STAR® partner, organizations enter into a formal agreement with the EPA. “As a partner in the program, organizations agree to abide by the ENERGY STAR® program identity guidelines to ensure proper use of the logo.”4 This partnership can provide homeowners with confidence that the product they are purchasing uses less energy than other products in that category.

      In addition to up-front testing, ENERGY STAR® products can also be subject to "off–the–shelf" verification testing each year. These checks ensure that manufacturing process changes or variations don’t undermine an ENERGY STAR® product's qualification.5 In 2015, 97% of the 1,789 models that underwent verification testing met energy-saving expectations.6

      Why Choose an ENERGY STAR® Product?


      The ENERGY STAR® program, which was introduced in 1992, applies to products in more than 70 categories. When compared to the standard product model in the same category, ENERGY STAR® certified products:

      • Have higher energy-efficiency ratings
      • Cost less money to operate
      • Are better for the environment

      Between 1992 and 2014, “the little blue label has helped save more than $362 billion on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons.”7 You can assess your home’s annual energy use compared to similar homes by using the EPA's Home Energy Yardstick.7 With the Home Energy Yardstick, you can get:

      • Your home's energy use score
      • Insights into how much of your home's energy use is related to heating and cooling versus other everyday uses like appliances, lighting, and hot water
      • Links to guidance from ENERGY STAR® on how to increase your home's score, improve comfort, and lower utility bills
      • An estimate of your home's annual carbon emissions8


      cta-outline_energy-star

      1 The ENERGY STAR® Story. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/about
      2 Third-Party Certification. (n.d.). Retrieved from ENERGY STAR®: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=third_party_certification.tpc_index
      3 Where Does My Money Go? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/products/where_does_my_money_go
      4 Maintaining the Integrity of ENERGY STAR®. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=partners.pt_es_integrity
      5 Origins and Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/about/origins_mission
      6 ENERGY STAR® Labeled Products: 2015 Verification Testing. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/downloads/2015_Verification_Testing_Summary.pdf?7bc3-ec96
      7 Why ENERGY STAR®? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/about/why_energy_star
      8 Home Energy Yardstick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=HOME_ENERGY_YARDSTICK.showGetStarted
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    • Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: Expired 12/31/2016

      Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit for 2016 tax return

      We are talking taxes!  We understand that you love taxes just as much as you love traffic and YouTube ads. Yet saving money on your taxes is a good thing – think open roads and ad-free cat videos!

      As 2016 ended, so did many of the residential energy efficiency tax credits. But if you had a licensed professional HVAC dealer install a qualifying, high-efficiency residential indoor comfort systems or qualifying HVAC component by December 31, 2016, you should consult your tax advisor to determine how these tax credits may affect your own 2016 taxes.

      *A tax credit can reduce the amount of federal income tax you may have to pay. For example, if you owe $800 in taxes at the end of the year, and you get a $300 tax credit, your actual tax bill could be lower.1

      Homeowners are limited to a maximum allowable tax credit of $500 between 2006 and 2016, whether those purchases came in the form of upgraded insulation, windows, HVAC equipment or other eligible improvements. To determine if you have already claimed your single-family home tax credits prior to 2016, consult your tax advisor.

      Some 2016 HVAC tax credits include, but are not limited to:
      • Air conditioners listed as ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient 2016 may qualify for a $300 tax credit.
        • Requirements for Split Systems: SEER>=16
        • Requirements for Package Systems: SEER>=14
      • Heat pumps that are ENERGY STAR® certified may qualify for a $300 tax credit.
        • Requirements for Split Systems: SEER>=16, HSPF >= 8.5
        • Requirements for Package Systems: SEER>=14, HSPF >= 8.5
      • Gas furnaces that are ENERGY STAR® certified (except those for U.S. South only) meet the requirements for the gas furnace $150 tax credit.
        • Requirement: AFUE > 95
      • Gas furnace fans that have earned the ENERGY STAR® rating may qualify for a $50 fan tax credit.
        • Requirement: Annual electricity use < 2% of total furnace energy

      And of course, there is a form for that! According to Energy Star, homeowners with residential energy-efficient tax credit qualifying purchases should discuss the IRS form 5695 with their tax advisor. Homeowners should also keep any related receipts and the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement for their records.2  The qualifying product(s) must have been installed by midnight on New Year’s Eve in order to claim the 2016 tax credit. A full list of Energy Star® tax reducing qualified products can be found on energystar.gov and at goodmanmfg.com.

      NOTE: This information is provided for discussion purposes only and is provided as a generic guideline. No consideration should be taken that this information represents tax advice. Contact your local tax professional to determine how these credits may apply to your circumstances and affect your own taxes. You can also visit  www.energy.gov/taxbreaks for more information.

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      1 Difference Between A Tax Credit And A Tax Deduction? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211437608-What-s-the-difference-between-a-tax-credit-and-a-tax-deduction-
      2 Tax Credits/ Rebates/ Financing/ Grants. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energystar.gov: https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211437868-How-do-I-apply-for-the-tax-credit-What-tax-form-do-I-need-for-the-energy-efficiency-tax-credits-

       

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    • What Do Ice, Physics and Water Have to Do with Air Conditioning?

      Physics of indoor cooling

      April showers may bring May flowers, but to those who live in mild areas of the country, it can also mark the beginning of air conditioning season! Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and warm sunshine may be in your near future.  What a perfect time to share some fun facts about air conditioners!  (Cue the sounds of spring)


      TONS of Cooling!

       

      In school, kids learn that one ton is equal to 2,000 pounds. Logically, if you had a 4-ton air conditioner or heat pump, you would expect your 8,000-pound piece of equipment to arrive on a flatbed truck!  But thank goodness that is not the case! The tonnage or weight assigned to air conditioners and heat pumps has to do with the fact that people used to cool spaces with blocks of ice.


      Before modern air conditioning, people rated their capacity to cool indoor spaces by the amount of ice that melted. When ice melts, it pulls heat energy from its surroundings.  It takes 143 BTUs (British Thermal Units) to melt one pound of ice.  The heat is transferred to the ice, which causes it to melt. In order to melt one “ton” of ice, you need approximately 12,000BTUs/hr.  Do you see the ice/air conditioner connection yet?

       

      Here are the numbers:

         

      • One British Thermal Unit (BTU) = the amount of heat you get from burning one kitchen match all the way down to the end.
      • One ton = the ability to cool 12,000 BTUs in an hour

       

      Your professional or licensed HVAC dealer should be able to determine the correct “tons” air conditioner or heat pump required to cool your home efficiently.  It’s important that the proper size of an air conditioner or heat pump is matched to your specific home. And thanks to modern marvels, the tons of cooling have nothing to do with massive blocks of ice.


      Physics Can be Cool!

       

      Air conditioners and heat pumps use the basic laws of physics and the refrigeration cycle to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature when the outdoors heat up.  The refrigeration cycle is based on the physical principle that a liquid expanding into a gas extracts or pulls heat from its surroundings. You can test out this basic concept for yourself with a water faucet and your hand!


      • Put one hand in lukewarm water and then hold it up in the air.
      • It will feel cooler than the dry hand, especially if there is some air movement.
      • Why? Because the water is evaporating! 
      • As the water evaporates, it pulls heat away from your hand.

       

      The refrigeration cycle removes heat from one area and relocates it to another. To cool your indoor spaces, your air conditioner’s or heat pump’s refrigerant is pumped through a closed refrigeration system. The same refrigerant is continuously used over and over as it passes through the cycle! With induced pressure changes from the condenser coil, compressor, evaporator coil and the expansion valve, the state of the refrigerant is forced to fluctuate between a liquid and gas. It’s like a teeter-totter on a playground that doesn’t stop: liquid, gas, liquid, gas, etc.! This continuous cycle allows the heat to be transferred from inside your home to the exterior.

      Here’s how it works:1


      • The refrigerant comes into the compressor as a low-pressure gas. It is then “compressed” to become a high-pressure gas.
      • The gas then flows through the condenser coil . Here the gas “condenses” to a liquid, and gives off its heat to the outside air.
      • The liquid then moves to the expansion valve under high pressure. This valve restricts the flow of the fluid and lowers its pressure as it leaves the expansion valve.
      • The low-pressure liquid then moves to the evaporator coil, where heat from the inside air is absorbed and changes it from a liquid to a gas.
      • As a hot low-pressure gas, the refrigerant moves to the compressor where the entire cycle is repeated.

      Heat and Humidity!

       

      Believe it or not, there is water in the air even when it’s not raining! Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. The more water vapor in the air, the higher the humidity. People may be able to feel when the humidity level is high, especially when it’s combined with high temperatures.

      Air with higher humidity has an increased amount of water vapor. As a result, sweat may not evaporate as quickly as it would with a lower humidity level. This phenomenon may make us feel hotter than the actual temperature because evaporation is slowed.

      Going back to the wet hand experiment - if the humidity level is high, it may take longer for the air to absorb the extra moisture on your wet hand. That means that your hand wouldn’t feel as cool because evaporation is slowed. This explains why it feels hotter when the humidity levels are high. Likewise, very low humidity can make us feel cooler than the actual temperature. This happens because the dry air helps moisture evaporate more quickly than usual.


      So how can an air conditioning help you feel more comfortable in your home? When warm air comes in contact with your air conditioner’s or heat pump’s cold evaporator coil, some moisture may be condensed out of the air, making your home feel less humid. The moisture collected by the evaporator coil goes to a drain and then it is sent outside, away from your home. But air conditioners and heat pumps are not meant to control humidity independently.  It just happens to be an incidental by-product of the refrigeration cycle! 

      Who Named Air Conditioning?

       

      Humidity also has something to do with the origin of the term “air conditioning.” Stuart W. Cramer coined the term “air conditioning” in his opening remarks to the American Cotton Manufacturers Association convention in 1906.  Cramer, a leading figure in the textile industry, installed the first air conditioning system in the south. His intent was to create ideal humidity levels at his Chronicle Cotton Mills in Belmont, NC in order to ease the process of spinning yarn.

       

      The business owner and trained engineer was credited with designing and equipping over 150 cotton mills, held 60 patents, and pioneered humidity control and ventilating equipment.2  While he didn’t invent the air conditioner, in his speech Cramer refers to his new “Automatic Regulator, which is the automatic control of humidifying and heating systems.”3 But Cramer wanted a more general term for the indoor air controlling technology. Cramer opened the conference by stating, “I have used the term “Air Conditioning” to include humidifying and air-cleansing, and heating and ventilation.”4 Thus, the word “air conditioning” was used and the rest is history…

       

      The Growing Number of Air Conditioners!

       

      Air conditioning is continuously named as one of the top inventions in modern history. Most warm-weather states can give the nod to the air conditioner for their increasing populations. Can you imagine what life must have been like during those southern summer days? It was certainly different without an air conditioner!

       

      In the south, single-family homes were typically built with high ceilings to let the heat rise, tall windows to catch the occasional cross breeze, and large porches to shade windows from the sun’s heat.  Old photographs often depicted people sitting on those expanded porches, hoping to catch a cool evening breeze. Outdoor living became part of the culture. However, people started to retreat indoors once air conditioning technology became more common.

       

      Air conditioning’s popularity began to increase when the equipment became more affordable to the common homeowner. By the 1950s, more than one million room air conditioning units had been sold. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that newly constructed homes tipped the scales of residential air conditioning. In 1977, 54% of newly constructed single-family homes had air conditioning compared to the 46% that weren’t built with air conditioning.5 The upward trend continued for decades.

       

      By 2015, the U.S. Census revealed that nearly 93% of newly constructed homes in the United States were built with air conditioning. However, the numbers also acknowledged that between 1997 and 2015, over 99% of newly constructed homes in the “south” were built with air conditioning.5 It appears that indoor comfort, whether for personal or economic reasons, will continue to advance and thrive! Thank goodness!

       

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      1 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. Basic Refrigeration Cycle. n.d. https://www.swtc.edu/Ag_Power/air_conditioning/lecture/basic_cycle.htm. 7 April 2017.

      2 Hill, Michael. NCpedia. 2006. http://www.ncpedia.org/air-conditioning. 5 April 2017.

      3, 4 American Cotton Manufacturers Association. "Proceedings of the ... Annual Convention of the American Cotton Manufacturers Association." American Cotton Manufacturers Association. Charlotte: American Cotton Manufacturers Association, 1897-1944. 182. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433066400650;view=1up;seq=210.

      5 U.S. Census Bureau. "Presence of Air-Conditioning in New Single-Family Houses Completed." U.S. Census Bureau - Air Conditioning. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2015. 1-20. https://www.census.gov/construction/chars/pdf/aircond.pdf.

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    • Dual Fuel Technology: Precise, Energy-Efficient Heating

      Dual fuel heating with a heat pump and gas furnace

      Every once in a while with indoor comfort, you CAN have it all! Precise, energy-efficient indoor comfort for every month of the year is like having your cake and eating it too!  When properly installed and configured, a dual fuel technology indoor comfort system offers the incredible combination of year-round comfort and energy-efficient performance!


      The Dual Fuel Set-Up

       

      A dual fuel system may come in the form of a packaged unit or a split system with two energy sources: the electric heat pump and a gas furnace. Dual fuel technology combines the cooling and heating performance that you get from a heat pump with the consistent heating capacity of a gas furnace. What makes this system so precise and energy efficient for heating is that it seamlessly alternates between the two energy sources for heating comfort, depending on your specific outdoor conditions.


      How Dual Fuel Works

       

      When the thermostat or control system calls for cool air, the heat pump unit functions just like a central air conditioner, it is designed to keep your home cool and comfortable even on extremely hot days.

       

      When your home needs moderate heating output, the heat pump reverses the refrigerant flow to provide warm air in your home and operates like a typical heat pump. In a dual fuel system, if the heating demand exceeds the preset heating capacity of the electric heat pump, the heat pump pauses, and the gas furnace takes over until the indoor temperature reaches the desired temperature on your thermostat or control system.1

      The system's switch point from the heat pump to the gas furnace can be set on the thermostat or control system by you or your dealer. Even on extremely cold days in winter, your dual fuel system is designed to provide energy-efficient, reliable, and consistent heat.

       

      Energy Costs and Efficiency

       

      Because certain energy sources, like electricity and natural gas,  operate most efficiently during specific weather conditions, a dual fuel system may maximize efficiency, and cut heating bills.

       

      Yet, heat source efficiency is only part of the equation. The cost of electricity and natural gas in your location can affect the cost-effectiveness of a dual fuel system. “Prices of basic energy (natural gas, electricity, heating oil) are generally more volatile than prices of other commodities,” says the Energy Information Association.2 Energy prices typically vary by location because of the proximity to power plants, local distribution costs, and pricing regulations.  For example, in 2015 the annual average electricity price in Hawaii was estimated at 26.17 cents per kWh and 7.41 cents per kWh in Washington.3

       

      When a dual fuel system's switch point can be determined by you or your dealer, the specific energy source pricing can be incorporated into the cost and efficiency equation.  If switching from the heat pump to the gas furnace reduces the time required to get to your set temperature, your energy cost of operation may decrease, and your comfort level may increase. Although the electricity may cost less than the natural gas in some areas, it may cost you more if your heat pump has to operate longer to meet your indoor temperature needs.

       

      The flexibility of using a heat pump and a gas furnace may provide the homeowner with energy cost savings. However, it is important to learn the utility pricing options from your local utility provider(s) and then discuss the potential savings a dual fuel system might offer with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

      Dual Fuel Installation Options

       

      If you are looking to replace your air conditioner with a heat pump, your professional licensed HVAC dealer may be able to upgrade your system configuration so that your new heat pump works in conjunction with your existing furnace system. If you are not currently utilizing natural gas as a heating source but it is an option is your area, homeowners interested in dual fuel systems may be able to add a high-efficiency gas furnace. The gas furnace would be the secondary heat source instead of using the heat pump's electric heat strip when the temperatures drop. 

       

      To find out whether a dual fuel system is an option for your home and how you may benefit, talk to your professional licensed HVAC dealer.

      Stay Warm with Goodman

       

      1 U.S. Department of Energy. Air-Source Heat Pumps. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/air-source-heat-pumps. 26 April 2017.

      2 U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Why Do Natural Gas Prices Fluctuate So Much?" n.d. U.S. Energy Information Administration. https://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/why_do_prices_fluctuate/html/ngbro.html. 28 April 2017.

      3 U.S. Energy Information Association. Factors Affecting Electricity Prices. n.d. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_factors_affecting_prices. 26 April 2017.

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    • What is Variable Speed Technology?

      Variable Speed Technology in Goodman® HVAC Products

      The cost of electricity isn’t getting any cheaper. In fact, the average retail price of electricity has increased from 10.40¢ per Kilowatt in 2006 to 12.55¢ per Kilowatt hour in 2016.1 So, how can you stay comfortable in your home and spend less on utility costs? The answer may lie with a variable speed technology central heating and cooling system!


      Variable speed technology enables a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to precisely adjust its output or capacity according to your home’s temperature demand. Unlike a base model or single speed HVAC system which cycles ON at 100% then OFF, equipment with variable speed technology may use less energy because it is designed to operate at multiple capacity levels.


      When one or more of these variable speed technology features is applied to your HVAC system, you may be able to spend less on utility costs without sacrificing your indoor comfort level.

       

      Variable Speed Compressor Technology


      Variable speed technology refers to the type of compressor in your air conditioner or heat pump. The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning or heat pump system. It creates the cooling capacity for your system. Variable speed compressors allow a unit to run at virtually any speed between 30% and 100%.


      This feature allows for various levels of output depending on your cooling demands — full capacity for hot summer days or reduced capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a single-speed unit.


      Variable Speed Fan Motor Technology


      Variable speed technology can also apply to the type of blower motor located in the air handler or gas furnace. A variable speed blower motor can operate at various speeds to precisely control the amount of airflow throughout your home. In the winter, a variable speed blower motor may alleviate the “cold air blow” often associated with single speed furnaces or air handlers.


      According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, a variable-speed motor running continuously at a half speed may use up to 75% less power that a single-stage motor uses to move the same amount of air.2


      Variable Speed Eases Demand

       

      If you were in a one-mile bike race, would you take the route with one hill or multiple hills? Which would require more energy?


      Electricity usage peaks when an HVAC system turns ON. A single-speed HVAC system is ON at 100% capacity until it reaches your preset indoor thermostat or control system temperature and then turns OFF. It’s like riding a single speed bike over a series of hilltops. It takes a great deal of energy to keep biking up multiple hills.


      Variable speed technology allows for a more consistent path. It often reduces the impact of a single speed's start/stop cycle, reducing the potential peak draw on your home's electrical service needs. Once your HVAC system reaches the desired indoor temperature, the variable option more precisely adjusts to the less demanding environment, minimizing the capacity required to maintain that temperature compared to a single-speed system. It’s like riding your bike uphill once, then leveling off on a flat road to the finish line — it requires less demand than the hill-laden route.


      Added Benefits of Variable Speed Technology

       

      A variable speed system may run longer than your traditional HVAC system, but at a level that requires less energy. This slow and steady operation offers some additional comfort benefits when compared to a single speed unit.

      • Consistent Indoor Comfort – Variable speed technology may minimize the temperature swings often found with single-stage equipment. Rather than shutting down, the variable capacity prolongs the set temperature of your spaces. This allows for steady and consistent comfort in your home.
      • Dehumidification – The longer an HVAC system runs, the more moisture might be removed from the indoor air. This may improve the balance between temperature and humidity, providing you with more comfortable interior air.
      • Air Filtering – The extended run time at lower speeds may also allow more time for the circulating air to interact with filters or additional air quality system components. However, as with traditional systems, it is important to change out your filters according to your HVAC dealer or manufacturer’s recommendation.

       

      If you are concerned about your rising utility bill but don’t want to sacrifice your indoor comfort, you may want to consider HVAC equipment with variable speed technology. Talk to your professional licensed HVAC dealer to see if variable speed is right for your home. 

      cta-outline_find-dealer

       
      1 U.S. EIA. (2017, May). Monthly Energy Review, Average Retail Prices of Electricity. Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec9_11.pdf

      2 Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (n.d.). Variable-speed, low-cost motor for residential HVAC systems. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from US Department of Energy: https://energy.gov/eere/amo/variable-speed-low-cost-motor-residential-hvac-systems

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    • The Refrigerant Story: From R-22 to R-410A

      Refrigerant through history

      For Centuries, scientists, inventors and outside-the-box thinkers have been trying to manipulate substances in order to alter the temperature of the indoors!

       

      1756: Dr. William Cullen, a Scottish physician and professor, published “Of the Cold Produced by Evaporating Fluids and of Some Other Means of Producing Cold.”

       

      1758: Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley, a professor at Cambridge University, experimented with the cooling effect of certain rapidly evaporating liquids.

       

      1824: Michael Faraday, a self-declared philosopher, discovered that heat would be absorbed by pressurizing gas, like ammonia, into a liquid.

       

      1840: Physician and inventor, Dr. John Gorrie, wanted to reverse the effects of yellow fever and “the evils of high temperatures.”1 As a result, he developed a machine that created ice through compression. Gorrie was granted the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851.1

       

      1876: German engineer Carl von Linden patented the process of liquefying gas setting the stage for the modern air conditioner.2


      The Evolution of Refrigerant

       

      Modern air conditioning appears to be an evolutionary invention that was built upon a series of successful (and not so successful) concepts. It took 80 years from Dr. Gorrie’s primitive ice-maker method for a group of individuals to develop a safe, non-toxic and easily-produced substance that could be used to provide indoor cooling for the masses.


      In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary created chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants. The compounds produced were “the world's first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.”3 One of the compounds to be developed in the 1930s was R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that became a standard refrigerant utilized in residential air conditioners for decades to come.


      But as they say, history has a way of repeating itself.  Decades later, scientists would discover that chlorine, a component of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, is damaging to the ozone layer.  As a result, R22, the standard residential air conditioner refrigerant, was included in the 1987 Montreal Protocol list of substances that were to be phased out of production over time for new air conditioners and heat pumps.


      The Montreal Protocol

       

      According to the U.S. State Department, “The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).”  With 197 countries in agreement, it was the first United Nations treaty to achieve universal ratification.4


      Under the Protocol, which was amended four times since 1988, total United States HCFC production and consumption should be phased out by 2030.  


      The Economics of Change

       

      Because R-22 was so widely utilized, it couldn’t be eliminated overnight without severe economic impacts to the private and public sectors. As a result, the Montreal Protocol and amendments allowed for a step-by-step phase out. This phased program provides homeowners the option of switching to chlorine-free refrigerants when they see the need to replace their current air conditioner or heat pump.


      Although the agreement was ultimately signed in 1988, the HVAC industry had to prepare for the mandated changes. Companies had to develop alternate refrigerant technologies, engineer new designs to accommodate substance characteristics, realign manufacturing to accommodate changes, and re-train dealers and technicians on the updates.  This would take some time, but R-410A refrigerant, a hydrofluorocarbon compound (HFC), was soon considered to be the most common alternative to R-22.


      Out with R-22, In with R-410A

       

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing the R-22 refrigerant phase out for the United States. By January 1, 2010, there was a ban on the production and import of R-22.5  As a result, manufacturers of heat pump and air conditioning equipment redesigned their systems to accommodate R-410A, a chlorine-free refrigerant compared to R-22.


      EPA regulations require a ban on the production and import of R-22 refrigerant by January 1, 2020. After 2020, any air conditioning or heat pump system using R-22 that requires servicing will have to depend on potentially expensive R-22 stockpiles or reclaimed refrigerant. The new ban on R-22 won’t affect homeowners that want to continue to utilize their functioning R-22 air conditioning systems.  However, in the event that that equipment needs to be charged with refrigerant, there will be difficulties.6


      Is R-410A Here to Stay?

       

      As stated, modern air conditioning has been an evolutionary invention that was built upon a series of successful (and not so successful) concepts. If history has taught us anything, it’s that progress will continue. Scientific discoveries, technological advancements, and even environmental policies and politics will continue to have an effect on the HVAC industry.


      Next Generation Refrigerants

       

      Because of the global warming potential of many HFC refrigerants, the latest amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment, has proposed to phase-down the use of refrigerants such as R-410A.  The phase down is expected to begin sometime in the 2020’s.  The leading replacement for R-410A is a pure, single component refrigerant called R-32, which has one-third the global warming potential of R‑410A.  Some products with this next generation refrigerant have already been introduced in the United States. Due to some properties of these lower global warming refrigerants, codes and standards are being updated before their mainstream use, which is expected in the early 2020’s.


      In the meantime, homeowners replacing their aging air conditioning and heat pump systems with new R-410A equipment will know that they are purchasing a chlorine-free option, as well as potentially increasing the energy-efficiency level of the air conditioner or heat pump for their homes. 

      Stay cool with Goodman® products

      1, 3 Department of Energy. History of Air Conditioning. 20 July 2015. https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-air-conditioning. 3 April 2017.

      2 Weisand, Dr. John. "Defining Cryogenics." Cold Facts (2010). https://www.cryogenicsociety.org/resources/defining_cryogenics/joule-thomson_effect/.

      4 U.S. Department of State. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Washington D.C., n.d. https://www.state.gov/e/oes/eqt/chemicalpollution/83007.htm.

      5 Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Register. 28 October 2014. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/10/28/2014-25374/protection-of-stratospheric-ozone-adjustments-to-the-allowance-system-for-controlling-hcfc. 3 April 2017.

      6 R22 and Halon Critical Use Phase-out. n.d. http://www.epa.ie/air/airenforcement/ozone/r22andhaloncriticalusephase-out/. 3 April 2017.

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    • What is an Air Handler?

      What is an air handler


      What do FedEx and air handlers have in common? They both deliver!

       

      If you have a heat pump outside your home, the air handler is likely the indoor component comprising your two-part, split system that keeps the indoor temperature of your home comfortable all year long. Most often, air handlers are located in the attic, basement or a dedicated closet, and may closely resemble the shape of a gas furnace. As its name suggests, an air handler “handles” the air inside your home and delivers warm or cool indoor air throughout your entire home.  What would we do without delivery!


      The PB&J of HVAC

       

      Depending on the design of your home, an air handler may be a principal indoor component of your heat pump system. When properly matched with the capacity and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of your heat pump, the air handler is designed to efficiently circulate conditioned air through your home’s duct work.  Depending on the season, the circulated air is either cool or hot. According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), mismatched systems are at least 30 percent less efficient than matched systems.1 Homeowners should keep this efficiency loss in mind when they are considering replacing only the outdoor unit portion of their split system.


      Parts of an Air Handler  
               

       

      Your air handler assists in regulating the circulation of indoor air and the temperature of the air in your home that you have set on your thermostat or control system. Your air handler consists of an evaporator coil, blower motor, air filter and the electrical and electronic components required to deliver enhanced levels of indoor comfort.

      Coil:  The indoor coil or evaporator coil is a crucial component of the refrigeration cycle. 

      • When your home requires cool indoor air, the coil is cold and removes humidity as the indoor air passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel cooler throughout your home.
      • When your home requires warm indoor air, the coil is warm and transfers heat to the air that passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel warmer throughout your home.

       

      Blower Motor: The blower moves the air to the connected ductwork to circulate it into your indoor spaces. The blower motor may be a single speed, multi-speed or variable speed model.

      • Single-speed: Operates at one, fixed speed. These motors are cycled on and off, as required by a thermostat or control system.2
      • Multi-speed:  Has the ability to operate at multiple speeds, depending on the demand. The multi-speed blower motor may operate at 100% to meet a high-demand thermostat or control system setting. A low-stage demand will reduce the speed of the blower motor. This low speed may maintain reduced humidity levels, provide sustained comfort and be more energy-efficient than when used in a single-stage system.
      • Variable-speed: Varies the fan speeds to precisely control the flow of heated or cooled air throughout your home based on your indoor comfort requirements.  A variable speed motor can help control indoor humidity levels and achieve a consistent temperature in your home. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “variable-speed motor running continuously at a half speed uses up to 25% of the power to move the same amount of air.”3

       

      Air Supply and Return Plenum Connections: Duct work is connected to your air handler by a plenum to

      1. “supply” or deliver the conditioned heated or cooled air to your interior spaces
      2. “return” the air to the air handler that needs to be heated or cooled

       

      Filter: Before your air conditioned or heated air enters your ductwork, it passes through an air filter. The filter is intended to minimize the number of particulates circulated throughout your home, accumulate in the duct work, and land on the indoor components of your heat pump system.

       

      Optional Electric Heat Strips: Provides an auxiliary, electric heating option when conditions arise that require activation.


      The In’s and Out’s of Handling Air

       

      In coordination with your HVAC system’s ductwork, the air handler simultaneously creates a recurring cycle, delivering air out to your indoor spaces through supply vents and drawing air in through the return vents.  Even if your air handler is properly sized with your outdoor heat pump, a licensed professional HVAC dealer should ensure that the air supply and movement through the air handler are balanced. 

       

      An inadequate amount of air flow in the supply vents, return vents or ductwork may reduce the HVAC system’s balance which can potentially cheat you out of your equipment’s efficiency and sacrifice your indoor comfort. This is one of the many reasons why proper installation by a licensed professional HVAC dealer matters to your HVAC equipment’s longevity, energy costs, and indoor comfort.

      What is an Air handler

       

      1 AHRI. HVACR Replacement Guidance. 15 January 2013. http://www.ahrinet.org/Contractors-Specifiers/HVACR-Replacement-Guidance.aspx. 12 April 2017.

      2, 3 Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Variable-speed, low-cost motor for residential HVAC systems. n.d. https://energy.gov/eere/amo/variable-speed-low-cost-motor-residential-hvac-systems. 1 May 2017.

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    • Key Factors that Influence Indoor Cooling Performance and Efficiency

      Factors that influence AC performance

      If you drive your car up hill, both ways, on tires with low air pressure, would you get the same miles-per-gallon (MPG) as you would if you were driving on a straight road, at a constant speed, with perfectly inflated wheels?  Probably not. Why? Because a vehicle’s fuel economy is measured under controlled conditions in the EPA's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory.1 Actual MPG may vary depending on driving conditions and other performance factors.

      The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) stated on the system components can be compared to the MPG of an automobile. If the installation or usage varies from the standard test conditions, the performance and efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump may be impacted.

      The Match Game

       

      Air conditioners and heat pumps, like automobiles, are tested within set laboratory conditions with properly matched system components. Manufacturers identify a unit’s SEER value through standardized testing and algorithms prescribed by the Department of Energy.2 In order to function at the certified SEER level in your home, the separate components of your cooling system must be compatible and in proper working condition.

      Each cooling component plays a vital role in making sure that you enjoy a comfortable indoor environment in your home. A complete cooling system may be composed of:

      • Outdoor air conditioner and indoor air handler
      • Outdoor air conditioner and indoor gas furnace
      • Outdoor heat pump and indoor air handler
      • Outdoor heat pump and indoor gas furnace

       

      According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), “Improperly matched indoor and outdoor units can create undue stress on a cooling system, dramatically reducing efficiency.”3 AHRI suggests that mismatched systems are at least 30 percent less efficient than matched systems.”4

       

      A licensed or professional contractor should be able to verify properly matched systems and SEER rating by providing you with a Certified Reference Number or a Certificate of Certified Product Performance. The AHRI’s free Directory of Certified Product Performance provides public information regarding certified reference numbers, SEER ratings and compatible equipment. If you are considering replacing just the outdoor portion of your cooling system, be sure to discuss compatibility and efficiency with your licensed or professional HVAC dealer.

      The Energy-Savings Puzzle Pieces

       

      Even if your HVAC components are compatible, a high SEER air conditioner or heat pump is only one piece of the energy-efficiency puzzle. Standards dictate that higher SEER heat pumps and air conditioning units are more energy-efficient than lower SEER units. Yet, when your cooling system is not being maintained as recommended or simple home energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like.

      To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, a licensed professional HVAC dealer should perform routine maintenance services. During an inspection, your dealer may identify any airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential concerns that could impact your system from operating at peak performance.  Typical professional maintenance services that may keep your cooling system at peak performance may include the following actions:

      • Check for adequate air flow
      • Look over outdoor condenser coil  and indoor evaporator coils
      • Check outside and inside refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
      • Clear indoor drain lines and pans
      • Check external and internal electrical connections
      • Check operation of indoor blower components
      • Lubricate internal and external motors, bearings and other moving parts
      • Inspect Exterior Fan

       

      Homeowners should also keep in mind additional conditions that may impact energy costs. These factors can influence the ability of your cooling system to perform at its designed efficiency level. Some conditions include, but are not limited to:

      • Improper system installation
      • Thermostat or control system location or settings
      • Undersized or leaking ductwork
      • Inadequate level of insulation and non-insulated construction methods
      • Leaking or drafty windows and doors
      • Dirty or improperly installed air filters

      Forward Thinking

       

      In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy changed from a national minimum SEER standard to regional standards. Currently, the minimum SEER values for air conditioners depends on location and ranges from 13 or 14 SEER. Heat pumps have a minimum SEER of 14 SEER.

      Cooling system manufacturers continue to pursue individual technologies that collectively may improve overall HVAC system efficiency. Advancements, including refrigerant, variable-speed drives, advanced controls, and additional mechanics that simplify installation, will continue to impact the energy costs associated with cool, indoor comfort. To discover current HVAC technologies available that may improve the energy efficiency of your home, discuss the various options and potential cost saving with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

       

      cta-outline_stay-cool

       

      1 Environment Protections Agency. Vehicle and Field Emissions Testing. n.d. https://www.epa.gov/vehicle-and-fuel-emissions-testing. 18 April 2017.

      2 Department of Energy. Appliance and Equipment Standards Rulemakings and Notices. n.d. https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/standards.aspx?productid=48&action=viewlive. 18 April 2017.

      3,4 AHRI. HVACR Replacement Guidance. 15 January 2013. http://www.ahrinet.org/Contractors-Specifiers/HVACR-Replacement-Guidance.aspx. 12 April 2017.

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    • What’s the Difference between a Heat Pump and Gas Furnace?

      Heat Pump and Gas Furnace Differences

      If you live where temperatures fall below 70°F, you most likely need some form of home heating system to stay comfortable in your home. Air-source heat pumps and gas furnaces are the common types of central residential heating systems. When installed and functioning properly, they can keep the indoors warm with the outdoor temperature start to fall. But do you use a heat pump or a gas furnace, and what’s the difference?

      Heat Pump and Gas Furnace Comparison

      Efficiency and Performance Ratings


      *SEER:
        The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio measures a heat pump’s annual energy consumption and cooling efficiency in typical day-to-day use. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.


      *HSPF:
       The Heating Season Performance Factor measures the efficiency of air source heat pumps. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heating performance of the heat pumps. New units in the United States have HSPF ratings from 7.0 to 9.4.


      *AFUE:
       Measures the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency for gas furnaces.  This measurement describes how well fuel is consumed to produce heat by a gas furnace. As the AFUE rate increases, the efficiency of your gas furnace also increases. New furnaces manufactured in the United States are required to have at least an 80% AFUE.

       

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    • How Does a Central Air Conditioner Work?

      How AC works

      The best air conditioner is the one you don’t have to think about.  It comes on the moment the indoor temperature set on the thermostat requires cooling performance, and then runs quietly and efficiently when needed.  But when it’s time to perform routine maintenance, make repairs or replace your system, it’s helpful to understand how an air conditioning system works.


      Parts of a Central AC System


      To get a better sense of how your air is cooled, it helps to know a little bit about the parts that make up the air conditioning system. A typical central air conditioning system is a two-part or split system that includes:

      • The outdoor unit contains the condenser coil, compressor, electrical components and a fan.
      • The evaporator coil, which is usually installed on top of the gas furnace inside the home.
      • A series of pipes, or refrigeration lines, connecting the inside and outside equipment.
      • Refrigerant, the substance in the refrigeration lines that circulates through the indoor and outdoor unit.
      • Ducts that serve as air tunnels to the various spaces inside your home.
      • A thermostat or control system to set your desired temperature.


      The Refrigeration Cycle


      1. Using electricity as its power source, the refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the indoor unit and the outside unit.
      2. Warm air from the inside of your house is pulled into duct work by a motorized fan.
      3. The refrigerant is pumped from the exterior compressor coil to the interior evaporator coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air.
      4. This cooled air is then pushed through connecting ducts to vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature.
      5. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.


      Keeping Air Clean


      It is estimated that the air you breathe inside your home is more polluted than the air outside your home.1 A cooling system offers just the basics with regard to enhanced indoor air quality for you and your family. Indoor air filtration can help maintain the efficient operation of your cooling system by removing a wide range of airborne dust and reducing airborne particulates that can build up on the surface of the cooling coil.

      It is important to change your filters regularly. As filters become loaded with particulates, your system has to work harder, increasing your cooling bills. 

      cta-outline_energy-star


      1 Guide to Indoor Air Cleaners in the Home. (2014, July). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-07/documents/aircleaners.pdf

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