Design Comfort Blog: Archive for August, 2011

How Much Will a High Efficiency Air Conditioner Save You? A Question From Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

When it comes to your air conditioning system in Salt Lake City, the energy efficiency rating really does matter. While you may be paying a bit more for products with higher energy efficiency ratings to begin with, you will certainly save a significant amount on your monthly cooling bills in the years to come.

Before you can evaluate your options in terms of energy efficient air conditioners, however, you will need to know how their efficiency is represented. Most air conditioners come with what is called a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). A higher SEER means a more energy efficient model, and likely a higher price tag as well.

But how much more energy efficient is a SEER 10 air conditioning unit as opposed to a SEER 11? Well, the truth is that it is about 7% more efficient. However, a SEER 14 will be 23% more efficient than a SEER 10, but only 5% more efficient than a SEER 13 model.

While all of these numbers can help give you some context in which to evaluate the various air conditioners out there, they can only go so far. Turning these percentages into dollars is what you really have to do when you are trying to figure out what your monthly or yearly savings will be.

So to give you a bit of perspective, imagine that your annual cooling costs come to around $480 with your current SEER 10 air conditioning system. If you choose to upgrade to a SEER 13, you will save somewhere in the neighborhood of $110. But if you opt for the SEER 14 instead, you will gain an annual savings of closer to $140 compared to your current bill.

Of course, the SEER of a particular air conditioner is not the only thing that will cause the price of the unit to rise, nor is it the only thing that can cause your monthly cooling costs to rise. Air conditioners also need to be matched to the size of the space they will be asked to keep cool.

If the unit you have is too small to effectively cool the area in question, you are likely paying more than necessary in terms of cooling costs for less than ideal results. Similarly, if your unit is too big, you will be paying too much no matter how high a SEER rating it has. If you need help picking the unit that is right for you, contact your local professional.

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Cleaning Air Conditioners in Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

One of the best things you can do to help maintain high indoor air quality in your Salt Lake City home is to clean your air conditioning system on a regular basis. While these systems make it possible to endured a long, hot summer with minimal discomfort, they can also become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and other indoor air contaminants that can make you sick or cause other types of problems.

Improving your indoor air quality isn’t the only reason you should worry about keeping your air conditioning system clean. A properly maintained air conditioner will function more efficiently for a longer period of time.

Air Filters

Changing or cleaning out your air filters regularly is one of the easiest and most important parts of air conditioner maintenance. These air filters are your number one line of defense against all manner of indoor air pollutants, but if they become saturated, they can no longer do their job. Fortunately, changing out these filters is a quick and easy job. Just mark the date on your calendar so you don’t forget.

Ducts

Without the system of air ducts that run through your home, your air conditioner wouldn’t be able to circulate all that cool air. But they’re also a very attractive place for dust, pollen, mold and other indoor air contaminants to collect. Unfortunately, the majority of your ductwork occupies space behind walls, beneath floors and in other equally inaccessible areas of your home.

For that reason, it’s generally necessary to have a professional with specialized equipment come out and clean your ducts once a year. By keeping up with maintenance, you can be sure that your air ducts aren’t harboring dangerous contaminants that your air conditioning system can then spread throughout your home.

Cooling Coils

The cooling coil is another part of your air conditioning system that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. If your cooling coil is dirty, it won’t actually affect your indoor air quality, but it will impede your air conditioner’s ability to function effectively. The more sediment and debris allowed to build up on your air conditioner’s cooling coil, the less efficiently it will cool the air that passes over it. And if it can’t cool the air properly, your air conditioner will have to work overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home.

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Portable Air Conditioners: A Tip From Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

If you’re in the market for an air conditioner in Salt Lake City, you’re probably familiar with central and window air conditioning units. But did you know there was another option? While they’re not perfect for every situation, portable air conditioners can provide reliable, even cooling for many homes.

Advantages of Portable Units

Of course, the main reason to buy a portable air conditioner is that it’s, well, portable. With one of these units, you don’t have to worry about which room to put the air conditioner in. Instead, you can simply take it with you wherever you go in the house.

Many people like to keep a portable air conditioner in their bedroom to take the edge off at night without dropping the temperature as much as a window unit might. And most portable air conditioners are quieter to operate than common window units. Portable air conditioners also come in a wide variety of sizes, so you can easily find one that matches your needs.

Disadvantages of Portable Units

Unlike window air conditioners that are automatically installed to vent and drain outside of a building, a portable air conditioner requires special setup. That means that every time you move your unit, you’ll have to find somewhere to place the exhaust hose so that fumes don’t accumulate in the room. This also means that portable air conditioners can’t be used in rooms without access to windows or air vents.

The cooling power of most portable air conditioners is not quite on par with equivalent window units either. You’ll want to choose a portable unit with slightly more BTUs than if you were buying a window unit to take care of the same sized room. As a result, the portable unit may cost slightly more to operate during peak cooling months.

Extras to Look For

Of course, while the cost may go up slightly, there are a lot of benefits to owning a portable air conditioner. For instance, many portable air conditioners can be used independently to dehumidify a room without cooling. This is often helpful (and can save energy) when the temperature would be bearable if not for the humidity level.

You also want to make sure that your portable air conditioner really is portable. That means finding a model with wheels and handles or some other mechanism that makes it easy to move it from place to place. If you need more information about portable air conditioners, talk to your air conditioning contractor.

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Top 10 Mistakes People Make When They Buy HVAC Equipment in Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Every year millions of Salt Lake City homeowners buy a new HVAC system for their home. Whether for heating, cooling or air quality, they make a huge investment in a new system that will be with them for years to come. Unfortunately, many of those people make big mistakes when buying their next system, so to help you avoid doing so, here are some simple things you should not do.

  1. Ignoring Air Quality – Air quality is about more than comfort. It affects the health of everyone in your home equally. Consider it carefully when installing a new system.
  2. Avoiding Even Heating and Cooling – One room being cooler or warmer than another is not okay. It’s bad for your system and bad for your home’s comfort level. Have insulation and ductwork checked before installation of a new HVAC system.
  3. Not Upgrading Your AFUE or SEER – New systems are highly efficient. Take advantage of that by buying one with a higher AFUE or SEER rating.
  4. Not Vetting Your Contractor – Always spend time checking up on your contractor, reading reviews and asking other customers how their experience was.
  5. Skipping the Service Agreement – Service agreements save money and help your system last longer. Don’t skip them.
  6. Buying the Cheapest Option Available – It may be tempting, but a cheap HVAC system is a bad idea if you want it to last and save you money in heating and cooling. Even a midrange system will save you money in only a few years with higher efficiency ratings.
  7. Picking the Same Model You Already Had – New models are stronger and more efficient. When possible, get an upgrade and your bills will reflect the difference.
  8. Waiting too Long to Buy – The longer you wait, the more you pay in heating and cooling bills for an old, worn down system. If you know you’re going to buy a new system, act fast to save the most possible money.
  9. Not Asking Questions – If you have a question, ask it. There is no such thing as a stupid question when looking for a new HVAC system.
  10. Ignoring Maintenance Recommendations – Maintenance recommendations are optional but almost always to your benefit. Research on your own before committing to anything, but don’t ignore the necessity either.

If you do things just right, your new HVAC system will last for years to come and provide steady, comfortable heating or cooling throughout that time. But, if you rush through things, make a hasty decision and neglect to do any research, you may have issues with your system in far less time than you’d like. Be smart and you’ll be rewarded.

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Window and Through Wall Units – Benefits and Disadvantages for Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

When you’re trying to decide what type of air conditioner to get for your Salt Lake City home, you’ll first have to determine whether a central air conditioning system or smaller individual unit is best for you. These smaller air conditioners are generally installed either in a window or through the wall of your home, and they can provide excellent cooling under the proper conditions.

If you’re still on the fence about what type of air conditioner is right for your home, here are a few items to consider:

  • Ducts – If your home already has ductwork installed for a central forced air heating system, it should be relatively easy to hook up a central air conditioner. But if there are no ducts currently in place, your installation costs will be a lot lower with window or wall mounted units.
  • Portability – Most window units are designed to be removed and stored at the end of the summer, so you can have your windows back and not have to look at that unit all winter long. Through wall units aren’t generally removable, but because they don’t take up window space and provide a more thorough seal against the elements, that’s not as much of a concern.
  • Aesthetics – With both window and through wall units, you’ll have something protruding into your room at least a few inches. These types of units are hard to hide, particularly when compared to the simple air ducts that central air conditioning systems use.
  • Flexible Sizing – No matter how big or small your room is, you should have no trouble finding a window or through wall unit to match it. A central air conditioning system needs to be sized to fit the entire house. If you’re only inclined to use air conditioning in two or three rooms during the hottest months of the year, you may not want to pay to cool the entire house all of the time. Smaller units provide that type of flexibility.
  • Affordability – Installing a central air conditioning system, even if you already have ducts in place, is a large undertaking and likely to cost you several thousand dollars up front. On the other hand, small window and through wall air conditioners are available for as little as $200 and you can buy more whenever you’re ready to spend that extra money. You can also usually install a window unit yourself, and the cost of having a through wall unit installed is minimal compared to that of a central AC unit.

If you have any questions about which air conditioning system is right for you, contact your local air conditioning professional.

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