Category Archives: AC Replacement

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What’s The Right Variable Speed Unit For Your Home?


Over the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about the benefits of switching over to a variable speed air conditioner over a standard AC unit. Now we’ll get into what we recommend for your home.

Remember SEER rating? Your SEER rating is your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which measures how efficiently your AC equipment runs year round. As we mentioned, the higher the SEER unit, the more efficient the unit, the more you save AND the less your waste. The government mandates that all AC equipment has a SEER rating of no less than 13 at bare minimum, but there’s real incentive both financially & environmentally to purchase ac units and equipment whose SEER rating is much higher.

Air Doctor recommends switching over to the AccuComfort line of variable speed air conditioners from American Standard for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that we’re an authorized Amercian Standard dealer, we became one for the unparalleled level of quality that American Standard instills in every unit it builds.

The AccuComfort variable speed line of units is a multi-stage system that consistently adjusts to find the most efficient speed to maintain your personal level of comfort based on your temperature. This speed efficiency leads to energy efficiency as well as annual savings on your electric bill.

The AccuComfort comes in both in a 21 and 18 SEER rating,  which means they’re super efficient, infact, some of the most efficient air conditioners on the market.

Nw only are they efficent, but now with American Standard’s 2016 rebates, you can save even more on both models! You can save $800 on 18 SEER and 1000 on 20 SEER rated AccuComfort. To take it a step further, you an get an additional  $100 for installing an Accuclean Whole Home Air Filtration System. Point blank, it’s the most effective whole-home air filtration system in the nation.

Cool air, lower electricity bills, energy efficiency, and rebates. In the heat of summer, when it’s muggy and hot, can you ask for anything more? Sure you can! Ask the Air Doctor for a home visit on the best model for your home. Contact us today for a consultation on the best variable speed unit for you and your family today:

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American Standard Variable Speed

What Are The Real Benefits of a Variable AC?

Last week we touched on the benefits of switching over to a Variable Speed Air Conditioner Handler and why you may want to consider using it instead of a standard ac unit. On the surface, air quality, comfort and efficiency are buzzwords that are tossed around pretty casually when describing the benefits of many ac products, but in fact the details illuminate the true meaning of what a variable speed air handler can do for your monthly bills and home life. Angie’s List goes into great detail of what a variable speed unit means for you:

Peak efficiency: Remember that low-speed operation throughout the day? By some estimates, bypassing the full-speed operation of standard units equates to an approximate 80 percent savings in electricity, which you can confirm with a home energy audit. The air handler plays this unique role regardless of whether it’s winter or summer, which will help you lower your energy costs by reaching peak efficiency.

Lower noise levels: Standard handlers operating at full speed generate a lot of noise, but equipment with variable speed options doesn’t. This system is less noisy, and often cycles on so quietly you won’t even notice when it comes on.

Improved comfort: Near-continuous operation delivers more than just energy savings: Comfort levels get a boost, too. When an HVAC system starts and stops, the temperature variation in the average home can differ drastically when the system is running, compared to when it’s not. With a variable speed handler driving your HVAC system, the temperature in your home will hardly vary because it can keep a fairly consistent, uniform temperature throughout the home.

Better air quality: The more the air in your home passes through the HVAC system, and its air filter, the cleaner your air will be. You’ll have to keep an eye on the filter, and perhaps change it more often, but the net result is improved air quality inside your home.

Humidity control: In the summer, you rely on your air conditioner to dehumidify the air, a process that works more efficiently when the air conditioning system runs longer cycles. And that’s exactly what a variable speed handler does, creating a more comfortable home, with less humidity.

So what variable speed units do we recommend? Next week we’ll walk you through the  options we recommend when you’re considering purchasing upgrading your AC unit!

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Looking to Replace Your AC Unit? Variable Speed Is Right For Your Needs!

Variable Speed Air Units Save More & Make Your Home More Comfortable

We’re only weeks away from those muggy Summer temperatures creeping into the Tampa Bay area, which means you’ll no doubt be turning the thermostat down to make your home more comfortable. And there’s more heavy usage on the horizon.

If you remember last summer’s energy bills being high & your air handler is over 10 years old, it means that your AC unit is rapidly becoming inefficient and you’re probably going to have to replace it soon. The great news is that in the ten or more years since you’d last replaced your compressor, air handlers have becoming not only more efficient but they’re now making your me less comfortable and less humid, which is a big point to consider living in the greater Hillsborough and Pinellas county area.

The biggest progress is the are of  Variable Speed Units, which are the pinnacle of energy efficiency. So what’s the difference between a standard model and a variable speed air conditioning unit? Angie’s List describes the difference:

In a standard air conditioner, the air-handling component cycles on at full blast, delivering air into the home using 100 percent of its capacity. However, this much air isn’t always necessary, particularly when the cooling load of the home is lower.

Instead of cycling on and off repeatedly over the course of the day, a variable speed unit starts up at full speed in the morning to quickly restore the home to a comfortable level. Then, the unit reins in the speed, dropping down to a lower speed, but running nearly continuously throughout the day. The handler saves energy by operating at lower speeds, but energy savings also results from avoiding repeated stops and starts, a process that requires a large amount of electricity.

Next week we’ll talk about the real benefits of having a variable speed unit & what that means too your and your pocket book!

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To Repair or Replace-That Is The Question!

The Bard of Avon initially asked, “To be, or not to be-that is the question”, but surely he’s couldn’t have known that existential query would be made centuries later when you’re making a decision on the life of  your AC unit!

Let’s paraphrase it by saying, “To replace, or not to replace”. That is the REAL question. But how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye to your old AC unit or keep repairing it?

There are two factors that come into play when you’re considering whether it’s time to switch out your air handler: Age and Money, and they’re both inextricably linked.

First, let’s talk about age. Typically an Air Conditioning unit over 10 years old is the right age to reconsider keeping your current air unit. Aside from the fact that units nowadays are more efficient and have advanced over the the 10 years since you last purchased or installed your unit, there’s a simple math that comes into play with ac handlers of age. As HVAC Specialist Brad Wentz mentions:

We use a 5,000 rule…You take the age of the equipment and multiply that by the repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000, then you should consider replacement. For example, a 10-year-old unit with a $350 repair equals $3,500. It’s OK to repair.

And that brings us to the second part of the equation: Money. Certainly that $5000 rule is a good barometer, but if you’re noticing the frequency of repairs increasing as you get closer to that golden age of 10 years or older, or you’re seeing your electricity bill go up, that may mean your air unit is becoming inefficient. In the Tampa Bay area, where your AC unit is going strong from late April to October, this can mean saving big bucks on your monthly energy bill.

Add to the mix the dreaded coolant leak! R-22 costs have steadily increased since the EPA announced they would be phasing out use of the coolant, which means that the cost for the coolant alone is skyrocketing, and eventually will all coolant leaks, eventually the AC compressor is soon to fail.

So if you’re checking all the boxes above, you’re a prime candidate to replace instead of repair your aging unit. Even though it may cost more upfront to purchase a new air conditioning handler, the short, intermediate and long term savings will keep your from sweating those repair costs and hot nights should your unit fail.

So what’s the right air handler for your home? Next week we’ll discuss the difference between standard and variable speed units.

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So How Much Could You Save?

How Much You Save On Your Monthly Bill Depends on Matching Right SEER Rating To Your AC Replacement Needs

Last week we talked about the importance of your SEER rating when purchasing a replacement AC Unit, not only from the standpoint of savings on your monthly electric bill but also from an environmental impact.

Replacing your ac unit is an important investment in your comfort and long term energy savings, so it’s important to make the right choices up front by evaluating your circumstances. As we mentioned, the government mandates that all AC units have a SEER Rating no lower than a 13, but it’s important to make some determinations on the actual appropriate SEER rating for our home. Angie’s List mentions:

…the right SEER for your new A/C unit isn’t as straightforward as choosing a specific number. You also have to consider the climate of your home to determine the impact of swapping out your system to one of a different SEER rating…

The size of the new system, how long you anticipate living in your home, your regional climate and how often you expect to use your A/C factor into the decision.

So before you buy your next AC unit, make sure you’re using the right factors in your determination. Once you do, learn how much you can save by downloading the Office of Energy Efficiency’s Residential Heat and Air Conditioning Unit Calculator here.

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The Importance Of Your SEER Rating

Even though it’s still a little chilly in the mornings & mild in the afternoons lately, we’re not too far off from the upwardly creeping thermostat & warmer temps that late spring in Tampa brings.

Since we’re experiencing colder and now milder temperatures, maybe you’ve been putting off dealing with your AC replacement until Spring or early Summer, in which case now is actually the time to start shopping and comparing AC units. At Air Doctor, we always preach energy efficiency & reliability when choosing which AC unit to purchase, but probably a more obvious gauge by which to compare replacement units is the SEER Rating.

To the unfamiliar, your SEER rating is your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. To put it succinctly, it’s the measurement used to gauge how efficiently your AC equipment runs year round, but primarily in Florida, during the hot & colder months (when your ac equipment typically gets the most usage).

Efficiency is the key: the higher the SEER unit, the more efficient the unit, the more you save AND the less your waste. The government mandates that all AC equipment has a SEER rating of no less than 13 at bare minimum, but there’s real incentive both financially & environmentally to purchase ac units and equipment whose SEER rating is much higher.

In fact, over the lifetime of a typical unit whose SEER rating is 16, Florida homeowners can expect to save over $2000 in cost of operation and produce 30,000 pounds less green house gasses. The higher the SEER rating, the lower amount of green house gasses  produced & the higher the savings. That’s real incentive to make sure your next ac unit is efficient.

At Air Doctor, we always preach energy efficiency & reliability when choosing your next AC unit purchase, which is why we stand behind American Standard as our units of choice. If you’re shopping to replace, have Air Doctor make a house call to make the best diagnosis for your new AC unit today.

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Here Are the 5 Necessary Steps to Replacing Your Air Conditioner

image008You’ve been told that your air conditioner is beyond its useful life and needs to be replaced. A central heat and air conditioning system is one of the larger investments you will make in your home. If you get it right, you can look forward to years of trouble free service and a much lower electric bill.

If you get it wrong you will have many years of expensive frustration. What should you do?

Step 1 – Choose a dealer that is reputable and is offering reliable products. Services such as Angie’s List can help you find the better dealers in your area. This may involve interviewing several dealers to find the right one. Make sure they are licensed, offer a reliable product (check Consumer Reports for product ratings) and offer routine maintenance to keep the system operating efficiently in the years to come. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau in your area for a company with a rating of an “A+.”

Step 2 – Review options with the chosen dealer to make sure you are meeting the needs of your home. For example:

  • Do you want a heat pump or a straight cool system? Heat pumps are more economical to heat with bust cost, on average, $500 more. It really depends on how much heat you use.
  • What SEER do you want? The SEER is the efficiency of the system and is similar to the miles per gallon of gas in your car. The minimum available today is 13 SEER and next year will be raised to 14 SEER. An investment in a 15 to 20 SEER system result in significant operating cost savings.
  • Is high humidity a problem in your home? An investment in a variable speed air handler can result in more comfort through the reduction of humidity in the home.
  • Are you interested in monitoring or controlling your AC from your smart phone? Today’s thermostats offer this ability and can even offer home management such as cameras, locks and light controls.
  • Review available rebates. Many manufacturers and utility companies offer rebates. These are usually tied to higher efficiency systems and can significantly reduce the purchase price.

Step 3- Once you have a proposal in hand make sure you have the following documentation:

  • Manual J load study – This is a formal review of your home and what size air conditioner you need. It insures that your AC is not too big or too small. In the long run it saves you money and makes you more comfortable.
  • AHRI rating sheet – This proves that the system you are buying meets the efficiency (SEER_rating).

Step 4 – On the day of installation make sure that you have permit posted at your home. Failure to pull a permit can result in fines to the contractor and the homeowner. It also allows work that does not meet building codes.

Step 5 – Final Inspections and follow up documents. When the installation is finished an inspection will be done by your municipality to verify that all work meets building codes. You will need to be present for this inspection and once it is successfully completed the permit will be closed out.

You should also receive, from the installing dealer, a copy of manuals and warranty registrations. Systems that are not registered my not carry a full warranty from the manufacturer.

Following these steps will assure that your new air conditioner is installed properly and will save you money for years to come.

Air Doctor is a proven and trusted service provider in the East Lake area and has been replacing systems for more than 20 years. For more information or a free system replacement estimate, please call 727-821-1961.

R-22

Why Is The Cost of Freon So High?

The cost of Freon for your central air conditioning system is going through the roof and will continue to cost more.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has been tasked with phase out the use of R-22 refrigerant in the United States. According to the EPA, R-22:

“…has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22, such as those from leaks, contribute to ozone depletion”.

This has led to quotas being placed on refrigerant suppliers allowing less and less of the refrigerant to be imported or produced. The EPA reviewed the effectiveness of their program in August of last year and decided that the quotas needed to be tightened to meet their goals. This has led to uncertainty in the industry and a price increase of 250% since the first of the year.

R-22 refrigerant is a thing of the past. Any system replacements must use R-410a (the new environmentally safe refrigerant). Some contractors are installing dry charged condensors which are a way around the EPA’s efforts. These units come without refrigerant and are charged with R-22. This solution only leads to higher costs in the long run.

Homeowners should keep an active maintenance contract with a local contractor. This will ensure that their existing equipment is kept operating efficiently, that they obtain the preferred pricing for freon when necessary and that any problems with the equipment are caught early before they become big problems.

While the EPA expects the pricing of R-22 to stabilize by the middle of this summer it will never again reach the low prices we have had in the past. At the same time R-410a refrigerant is dropping in price and becoming more available. Many dealers and power companies are now offering rebates as incentives to homeowners to upgrade to newer more efficient units that utilize R-410a refrigerant.

Air Doctor of Tampa Bay offers a one year preventative maintenance agreement for your Air Conditioning Unit  as well as seasonal AC tune ups.

Call 813-891-9444 for an appointment today!

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Why Should I Replace My Furnace When I Replace My Air Conditioner?

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By Jim Lucker, Owner, Air Doctor

In homes that heat with a gas furnace many people mistakenly believe that it is acceptable to change only the condenser and coil, leaving the old furnace in place. In most cases this is not the best approach and this article outlines the reasons why.

First of all it is important to know that your air conditioner is made up of a condensing unit outside, a cased evaporator coil on top of the furnace and the furnace which provides the blower for the system. Every time that the AC turns on, the furnace also turns on to push the air through the system. This defies the common theory that the “I never use the furnace, so it is like new.” It has just as many hours as the AC system on it.

It is also important to understand that the condenser, coil and furnace are a matched set. They operate together to deliver ne component is maximum heating, cooling and efficiency. Changing one and not the other can lead to issues. If less breakdowns is the one of the goals of replacing your system leaving one old component in place will not achieve it.

image003One of the major innovations in air conditioning is improved efficiencies in the blower side of the system. Use of ECM motors have increased efficiencies and the addition of variable speed ECM motors to improve efficiencies and improve comfort through better control of humidity. Older furnaces do not contain these motors and therefore you do not enjoy the benefits.

One last reason to replace the furnace is that many gas companies offer significant rebates. For instance TECO Gas in Tampa, offers a $500 rebate when you replace the furnace. This is a strong incentive to the homeowner not to leave an old, inefficient and unreliable furnace in place.

Should you be in a tight budget situation there are coils and condensers that can be matched to old furnaces. It is important to check the heat exchanger in the furnace to make sure it is in good shape. A leaky heat exchanger can be deadly.

Following these steps will assure that your new air conditioner is installed properly and will save you money for years to come. You should also receive, from the installing dealer, a copy of manuals and warranty registrations. Systems that are not registered my not carry a full warranty from the manufacturer.

Air Doctor is a proven and trusted service provider in East Lake area and has been replacing systems for more than 20 years. For more information or a free system replacement estimate, please call 727-821-1961.

What’s New in Air Conditioning?

A%20Platinum%20ZV%20Air%20Conditioners%20Heat%20Pumps%20Beauty%20ColorSince the earliest days of air conditioning systems were limited to 2 speeds, on and off. This is equivalent to your car having the gas pedal to the floor or the brakes fully applied. The ride is uncomfortable and it’s hard to control the speed. In air conditioner’s this results in uncomfortable and loud units that cost a lot to operate.

Imagine now an air conditioning system that senses the heat load and humidity in your home, and runs at just the right speed to meet a comfortable condition. This system would start up slowly making very little noise and run long enough to reduce the temperature and humidity. It would also result in a more consistent temperature throughout your home by running longer at lower speeds to circulate air throughout the home.

Over the past few years these systems have become available and are changing the definition of comfort and efficiency. No more loud bangs as the unit starts up and no more blasts of cold air as the unit comes on for a short period of time. Power bills are significantly lower due to the unit running at lower speeds.

The American Standard Variable Speed condenser is the recipient of the 2015 ADEX award for design excellence. This unit was installed in American Standards Technical Representatives homes 2 to 3 years ago and checked for quality and reliability. The results were excellent.

With the American Standard systems you can control your home heating and cooling even when you are not home. American Standard Connected Controls and Nexia Home Intelligence gives you the ability to manage your system through any smartphone or tablet.

Ask Air Doctor Air Conditioning and Heating about this technology and how it could improve the comfort of your home.