Category Archives: Energy Saving

thermostat

Should I change the temperature of my thermostat when I am not at home?

The short answer is yes, but be careful. What many people don’t realize is that your HVAC system isn’t just raising or lowering the temperature of the air in your house, but it is also affecting the temperature of your insulation. If you just turn your air conditioner or heater off every time you leave the house, then you can actually see an increase in your energy bill.

How is this possible? Simply put, it takes hours for your HVAC unit to penetrate the walls of your house – that’s the whole point of insulation! If you allow the outside temperature to infiltrate your insulation all day, then your air conditioner or heater will have to spend additional energy cooling or heating it back to your desired temperature. This can sometimes cost you more than if you had just set it a few degrees higher or lower before you left the house.

Here are a few tips to save money on energy:

  • In the summer, set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than your ideal temperature when you leave the house.
  • Only turn your system completely off if you are planning to be gone longer than 24-hours.
  • Buy an air conditioner with a high SEER rating, but realize that SEER isn’t everything.

Or instead of dealing with the hassle, get more efficient equipment or a Smart Thermostat.

In most US homes, over 40% of a household’s electricity bill is a result of air conditioning and heating, and in Santa Clarita, California and other arid climates it can be over 50%.

The ideal daytime temperature comfort range for most Americans is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  So setting your thermostat to the highest temperature in this range during the summer months is key to reducing energy costs.  Set your thermostat to 75 if you can handle it, or even higher if it is comfortable but don’t sacrifice your comfort.  At that point, why even bother having an air conditioner?

At night, the ideal temperature range for Americans drops to 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 87 degrees if you are my wife).  Don’t hesitate to lower your thermostat at night though, because your air conditioner actually works less at night than it does during the day due to lower outside temperatures and the fact that the sun is no longer hitting your house causing radiant heating.

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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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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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DealerOwnerFilter

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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rollovers

How Chilly Is It In YOUR Home Today?

We’ve hit the coldest patch of weather that we’ve had in the Tampa Bay area this winter. Sure, a high of 58 degrees isn’t the balmy 21 degree weather that Chicago is experiencing today, but it’s still enough to get your heating running pretty regularly.

And tomorrow will be the same-with even more chilly weather expected before the month ends. If you haven’t had your heating unit inspected in the past year, isn’t now a good time to make sure your heating unit is running well?

Now’s the perfect time to get a  24 Point Heating inspection today on your heating unit for those cold nights to come. For just $49.99, you can be assured that your heating unit is not only running efficiently but  prevent unnecessary breakdown today and insure that your AC unit is also ready for those heavy use months for the coming summer.

Air Doctor specializes in air conditioning and heating repair services for all brands in Tampa, Clearwater & Pinellas, and we offer a number of fantastic seasonal specials as well as financing for new systems! Give us a call today at 813.891.9444 and in Pinellas at 727.821.1961 today to schedule an appointment for a free estimate on your AC maintenance today!

 

cool-sunglasses

Get That Heating Tune Up Now…Before It’s Cool ;)

Who doesn’t like to be a trendsetter? Sure, the Tampa Bay temps now are starting to dip a bit & we’re into a little milder weather, but November is only a couple of days away which means chillier temperatures are around the corner.

Is you heating system ready? Aside from changing filters & cleaning dust from the vents, when was the last check up for your eating unit? It’s time to get ahead of the curve-if you haven’t had a check up in the past year, it’s time to call the Air Doctor for your 24 Point Heating Check Up, which will get your heating unit running cleanly & efficiently all through the winter months.

Don’t wait until it’s too late-get that Heating Check Up today…before it’s cool!

Call Air Doctor today to schedule your check up at 813.891.9444 or 727.821.1961

 

Why You Should Get a Fall Tune-Up

…Even If You’d Rather Not Think About It

Welcome to the Autumnal Equinox…or at least as close to fall as we get in September in the Tampa Bay area! Yes, it’s a high of 89 degrees here in Hillsborough country, but the temperatures look to be slowly trending down in the coming weeks. Thought it may not be enough to dip into chillier temperatures, the time is coming.

We found a great article this week that we thought we’d excerpt about Fall AC check ups & how important it is to check it out now as opposed to when the colder temperatures inevitably come.

Let’s be honest here. Unless you’re an HVAC contractor, you’re probably not particularly interested in your heating system. And that may lead you to skimp on routine maintenance.

But…if you really want to think about your heating system as little as possible, then routine maintenance is exactly what you need.

According to a study conducted by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, 9 out of 10 HVAC system failures are caused by dirt and dust. That means that if you hire a professional to clean and service your furnace, and you change your furnace’s air filter once a month, you are 90% less likely to have a breakdown this year!

This, of course, is terrific news for your budget. Not only will you save by minimizing the possibility of a major repair, you’ll also increase your heater’s efficiency, which means lower energy bills this winter.

And that means more money for that new car, the kids’ college tuition, or (just maybe) your dream vacation.

But even better than that, routine maintenance leads to peace of mind. You’ll have less hassle, less worry, and a lot more time relaxing cozily in your house, doing whatever you want to do, while your heater minds its own business in your basement.

So, now that you’re persuaded…what routine maintenance do you need?

You should get an annual tune-up/inspection every year. A good furnace tune-up will include:

  • Checking the thermostat to ensure that the settings are comfortable and energy-efficient
  • Checking all electrical connections, motors, and controls
  • Lubricating the blower bearings and blower motor as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Cleaning dust from the blower compartment
  • Testing air flow
  • Checking vents, drafts, and flues
  • Inspecting the condensate drain (if the system includes central air)

Then, there are a few simple things you should do yourself.

  • Make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer (weed whackers, lawn movers, gas cans, etc).
  • Give the outside of your furnace a good dusting (also, dust the areas near it).
  • Test your heater for a few minutes while it’s still warm out (like in early September), to make sure that it’s working well on the first cold day. Also, you can comfortably open the windows to disperse that unpleasant “first time” smell.
  • Make sure that your thermostat is set in the heating mode when heating season starts. Just setting the dial above room temperature won’t activate the heat if the system is still in AC mode.
  • Change/clean your air filter regularly, especially during heavy use seasons (winter and summer). You should replace disposable fiberglass filters, and wash electrostatic or electronic filters, at least every three months, and more often if they look dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool (a waste of energy). A clean filter will keep dirt and dust out of your system, increasing its longevity and reducing the need for expensive repairs.

Everything on the list above should take you about half an hour a year, in total. That’s a pretty minimal amount of time in exchange for months and months of worry-free operation!

PS. Everyone is suddenly interested in their heating system if it’s the first cold night and their furnace doesn’t work. This is not the time to schedule a tune-up. Do it now and beat the rush!

5 Things You Can Do To Keep Your Air Conditioner Running Efficiently And Reliably

By Jim Lucker, Owner, Air Docotor
By Jim Lucker, Owner, Air Docotor

While today’s central heat and air conditioning systems are more reliable than ever they still require a little maintenance and care to keep them at their best performance. Some things a home owner can do themselves while others are left for the professional.

  1. Keeping a clean filter on the intake of the air ducts of your AC is the most important maintenance item. This is often overlooked especially in rental units. Tenants usually have no motivation to take care of the system so it goes uncared for until it breaks. A filter should be clean to look at and when you hold it up to the light you should be able to see through it. Change your filter on a regular basis.
  2. Keep the area around the air handler (inside unit) clean and uncluttered. Most air handlers pull some air through the seams bypassing the filter. If chemicals are stored next to it they will be blown into the air stream and dust or dirt are present they can also be dissipated through the home. Keeping these areas clean is important.
  3. You should inspect the area around the condenser (outside unit) to make sure that it is clear. Shrubs should be cut back 1 foot from the unit to allow it sufficient air to operate. Landscape sprinklers should not spray on the unit as this can cause premature rusting. The white drain in this area should be unobstructed so it drains properly and run in such a way to drain the water away from the building.
  4. Drain lines should be cleaned each month and flushed with a solution of vinegar and water to eliminate algae build up. Usually a cap on the drain is installed so that the drain may be flushed. Should the drain plug up attaching a shop vacuum to the outside may clear it.
  5. Inspect the air ducts for evidence of bio growth or other dirt. Spring cleaning should include vacuuming the duct covers and wiping down with a light cleaner like Lysol to keep them shining.

A qualified service company should come in once before the cooling season and once before the heating season to do a thorough maintenance. This will include rinsing coils and checking electrical connections. Electric heaters and Refrigerant charges should also be checked.

Air Doctor offers these services as part of their annual maintenance program. They are a reputable Customer Care Dealer for American Standard servicing the Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater area for more than 20 years. They can be reached at 727-821-1961 in Pinellas or 813-891-9444 in Tampa.

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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