Important facts about Air Conditioning

An air conditioning system can vary by the particular brand. That being said, here are some of the common components you will run into.

A true airconditioning system performs three basic functions. The one that would first occur to anyone entering an air conditioned room from the outside during the summer is air cooling. The lowering of the temperature of the air is one of the basic characteristics of an air conditioning system. Cooling capacity is measured, strangely enough, in a heating measurement, the BTU. A BTU is a British Thermal Unit which is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree of temperature measured in Fahrenheit.

The efficiency of an air conditioning unit can be measured by a standard known as SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The minimum SEER rating has been 10, but recently was raised to 13 in January of 2006. The SEER is defined as the total annual BTU output of the unit defined by its energy input. The Federal Government and the Department of Energy have regulated the required SEER of all new air conditioning units in an attempt to reduce energy consumption.

High efficiency in cooling is more critical in climates where annual temperatures are higher and the demand for air conditioning is greater. It is actually worse to have a unit that is too large for the size of the building being cooled. An oversized unit not only costs more than it should, but runs efficiently. It will also not run long enough to properly dehumidify the air.

The ability to remove moisture from the ambient air is another characteristic of an air conditioner. Humidity is often as important to comfort as air temperature. High humidity also can contribute to health problems and contributes to mold growth in the duct work of the system and in the home itself. A regular refrigerant type air conditioner removes moisture from the air by condensation as the moist air passes over the cooling coils. The process is similar to what happens when you have a glass of cold liquid on a hot, humid day. Just as water will condense out of the air on the outside of the glass, it condenses on the tubing of the cooling coils. The condensed moisture drips off the pipes and is removed by a drain in the duct work.

Air filtering is the third characteristic of an air conditioner. Filtering is done by passing the air intake flow through a filter that removes dust and lint. Some filters can be used that remove microscopic pollutants from the air. The filters need to be changed on a frequent basis as a clogged filter greatly reduces the efficiency of the unit. Cooling, dehumidifying, and filtering are all characteristics of a good system, and produce air that is comfortable, dry, and clean.

Posted on March 17th, 2008 by luke and filed under Central Air Conditioning | No Comments »

Tips for cutting heating costs

After last winter’s fuel frenzy, I may not be alone in trying to figure out how to reduce home heating costs. Based on what I’ve learned at various workshops and research in the field of home heating, I would like to share some information that may be helpful in your present or upcoming heating system renovation or installation. In our society, the heating industry just can’t compete for your attention like the massive automobile industry. You more than likely won’t see a boiler commercial on TV any time soon. Allow me to highly encourage you to learn more about home heating.

Just 100 years ago, only the wealthy had central heat. They were mighty in size - both steam and gravity hot water systems. As some people rejoiced with warm radiators for the first time in history, other people feared for their lives. While it is almost unheard of today, boilers were literally exploding week in and week out throughout America , claiming lives and ripping houses apart. While the “man of the house” was at work, the mom would stoke the fire, shoveling in coal to keep the fire going. Steam was and is a good heating system. However, its efficiency doesn’t compare to today’s technology. Things are different now.

Lots of options

We have numerous options in heating systems available these days. The average consumer may have a difficult time making sense of the fuel efficiency rating system. For example, some claim condensing warm-air furnaces are the way to go because of the 90 percent plus efficiency. Others claim that an 83 percent boiler can be just as, if not more, efficient to operate. Let me clarify that statement: the rating that comes with all heating appliances simply doesn’t tell the whole truth. Consider the following: first, warm air systems are notoriously “leaky” meaning that a concentrated amount of warm air that the furnace discharges into the duct system will leak out into the basement and wall partitions. Second, the cooler room basement-temperature metal ducts will first have to warm before the floor register will deliver the 130-plus degree air that the furnace delivered. Third, the blower motor consumes a healthy amount of electricity. My point is simply this: while the rating system measures steady sate burner efficiency (continuous running), it does not take the aforementioned factors into consideration.

With a modern control system known as an outdoor reset control, boilers can now benefit from huge savings in fuel consumption. The control can be added to a new boiler system or an existing one. The way it operates is fairly simple. With a temperature sensor attached on the north (or at least out of the sun’s warmth) side of the house, it sends a signal to the control mounted in the boiler room. It will then dictate the boiler temperature for that given outdoor condition. There is a commonly accepted rule of thumb to take into account. For every 3 degrees you can lower the boiler’s operating temperature, you can realize a 1 percent savings in the fuel bill. For example, the average boiler operates at 190 degrees. The outdoor reset control will bring the average system temperature down to 145 degrees F. Forty-five degrees (which is the difference between 190 - 145) divided by 3 = 15. Your new control will save you about 15 percent on your heating bill. Small house? It may not be worth the extra cost. Medium or large house? You may want to give your heating contactor a call.

Comfort

Let me talk about comfort. Few people out there will argue that hot water heating is far more comfortable than warm air heating. For that reason alone, many people in New England opt for the boiler (hot water) system. But the advantages of an outdoor reset control system don’t stop with fuel savings. It also will be even more comfortable for your home. Here’s why. All baseboard heating systems are considered a convective current system. This means the air is heated as it passes through the fins of the baseboard unit. With a conventional control system, the boiler will pump 190 degrees water through the pipes. This creates more natural air current in your living area. Although it’s not as significant as a warm air system, it still is a factor. With the outdoor reset control, the system basically operates like the cruise control in your car. The system temperature will gradually rise and decline depending on outdoor conditions.

Some European boiler manufacturers already offer these controls as a part of their product line-up. If you have a domestic boiler, there are several heating control companies that make these devices as well. Speaking about the Europeans, I humbly have to say that they are decades beyond our technology here in America .

Posted on March 12th, 2008 by ed and filed under Heating, Uncategorized | No Comments »
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