ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for July, 2011

What Size Air Conditioner Will Fit My Home?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

When you are trying to determine what size air conditioner to get, the first thing you need to know is how large the space you want to keep cool is. Air conditioners come in a wide variety of sizes and each is appropriate for a particular type of space. So once you know how big the space is, you will be able to compare that to the capacities of the various air conditioners out there to find the right one for your needs.

The cooling power of air conditioners is actually measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Each BTU rating corresponds to a particular square footage which that air conditioner should be able to cool properly and efficiently. For instance, a 10,000 BTU air conditioner can cool a room that measures between 400 and 450 square feet, and so forth. The higher the BTU, the larger the area the air conditioner can acceptably cover.

It is pretty easy to see why you would not want to pick out an air conditioner that is too small for the space you need to cool. The system simply would not be able to keep the space cool enough and it would use a lot of energy trying.

However, that does not mean that the bigger the air conditioner is the better. In fact, you will do just as poorly to purchase an air conditioner that is too big for the space you want to cool than one that is too small. This is because air conditioners do more than cool the room. They also remove humidity as they cool the space.

An air conditioner that is too large will cool the room quickly, causing it to switch on and off frequently. Not only is this annoying because of the noise that the air conditioner makes, but it also increases the wear and tear that the unit must endure. An air conditioner that is too big will also not be able to remove humidity as efficiently because the room is cooled so quickly. Plus, it will use much more energy than necessary to do a sub-standard job.

With these types of calculations, it is relatively easy to pick out a single room air conditioner. However, if you are trying to purchase a whole home air conditioning system, you will probably need a professional to help you figure out exactly how powerful you need the system to be to keep your home comfortable and cool all summer long.

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The Advantages of an Air Conditioning System

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Just about everyone knows that air conditioning systems keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. While this may be enough of a benefit for you, there are also some other benefits to having a central air conditioning system installed in your house as well.

For instance, if you have someone in your household who is more susceptible to extreme temperatures than most people, an air conditioning system can actually help improve their overall health. Babies certainly fall into this category, as they have more difficulty than older children or adults do controlling their body temperature.

Also, many elderly people or people suffering from certain medical conditions, particularly heart conditions, are especially sensitive to the heat. If they are unable to stay cool, it can be very dangerous and damaging to their health, and an air conditioning system helps to guarantee that they will be able to stay cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

Aside from direct health concerns, air conditioning systems can also help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. They do this by controlling the level of humidity inside your home. If the air in your house is too moist or too dry, it can exacerbate cold and allergy symptoms, as well as dry out skin and make the indoor environment generally uncomfortable.

Proper humidity control is also important because it helps to ensure that any air filtration or purification system you have in place is able to operate at peak efficiency. Many of these units have a hard time extracting particulate contaminants from the indoor air that circulates through them if that air is too humid or too dry. With a state of the art air conditioning system in place, however, you will not have to worry about whether or not the humidity level in your home is out of balance.

It is also worth noting that a central air conditioning system can be preferable to a window mounted unit because it provides for a more even distribution of cool air throughout the house. Also, when you have a central air conditioning system, the condenser which is the source of most of the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make will be located outside and out of earshot. With window mounted units, on the other hand, there is really no way to block out or diminish the noise.

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Maintenance: Cleaning Your Conditioner Coil Will Save You Headaches Later

Monday, July 25th, 2011

You have plenty of things to clean all over your house. But do you really have to clean your air conditioner too? Well, if you want it to keep working well, you do. In fact, cleaning the coil of your air conditioner is a quick and easy process, especially if you do it on a regular basis, and it can save you a great deal of frustration later on.

Like any machine, your air conditioner needs a tune up from time to time in order to continue to function properly. While a lot of this is taken care of if you have an annual maintenance service performed by a professional, your air conditioning coil will benefit greatly by being cleaned more often than that.

In fact, during your annual maintenance visit, your air conditioning technician can easily demonstrate for you how to get to the coil and clean it. This is a relatively easy task that you can carry out every month or so when your system is in use to help ensure optimal health and functioning for your system.

Of course, your air conditioning system will still run whether you clean the coils on a regular basis or not. For now, that is. Allowing more and more debris to build up on the coil, however, can have a big impact on the overall energy efficiency of your unit. An air conditioner with a dirty coil will have to work harder to keep your house cool, and that will be reflected by an increase in energy consumption.

Also, an air conditioner with a dirty coil that is having to work harder to keep your house cool will wear out more quickly than one that is working properly without added impediments. The added wear and tear that this causes to various other parts within your air conditioner can cause them to malfunction and need to be replaced sooner than they should.

This means more costly repairs, even if they are minor ones. It also means that your entire air conditioning system will probably not last as long as it may have with proper care. You will have to replace it sooner, adding even more to the cost of having and running the equipment.

Cleaning your air conditioner coil regularly is a simple and effective way of helping to keep the entire system running smoothly and efficiently for many years to come.

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How Much Will a High Efficiency Air Conditioner Save You?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

When it comes to your air conditioning system, 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.

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Quick check before you call us out!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

A common issue we find during the first of the hot weather is iced up units. This is when the unit has due to some problem become frozen on the indoor unit. Signs of this is when you see the unit outside running, your furnace fan running and no airflow coming from your vents. When you go outside and look at the unit you may see ice around one of the copper lines going into your home. Solution: shut your air conditioning OFF, turn your fan switch to ON, now the fan will continue to run to begin melting the ice from the indoor coil. Water will be present so if there is a concern of water damage be sure to check on the unit often and if needed put something around the unit to collect water.

One of the most common reasons for this occurrence or failure is due to a dirty filter. Once the filter becomes dirty it restricts airflow which in turns allows the indoor coil to become so cold that ice builds up until there is no airflow compounding the issue. So be sure to check and change your filter as needed. If the issue persists there are other failures that can cause this but a technician will need to be the one to diagnose.

Thanks for your support, Jason Roop
Service Manager

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What Is New in Air Conditioning?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

There are developments being made in air conditioning just about every day. This is a huge business, and so manufacturers are constantly trying to outdo each other as it is their only way to compete for customers. What this means for you as a consumer is that you will always have an excellent selection of products from which to choose.

Energy efficiency is one of the main selling points for any air conditioning system. For that reason, manufacturers are constantly working to come up with new and better models. The most advanced air conditioning systems on the market have energy efficiency ratings that by far surpass what was available even ten years ago and it is only going to keep getting better.

Another type of air conditioning system that is relatively new but is rapidly gaining in popularity is the ductless mini-split system. These and other compact air conditioners are popular because they can be installed virtually anywhere and do not take up much space. They also do not require the duct system that many other central air conditioners do.

In this way, ductless mini-splits combine the best of central air conditioning and more conventional window or wall mounted units. They keep individual rooms of your house cool and comfortable and can be controlled independently of one another, but they are also very quiet and energy efficient. In fact, ductless mini-splits are among some of the most energy efficient options available in the air conditioning world today.

For many years, enjoying the comfort that air conditioning provides has meant putting up with the noise of the compressor as well. Now, however, you can get the best of both worlds. Many air conditioning companies, in response to customer requests, have been working to curtail the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make.

This has affected models all up and down the line. Whether it is a window mounted unit you are after or a large central air conditioning system, you can rest assured that the model you buy today will be much quieter and produce a great deal fewer vibrations than your old system.

This is not only good news for you. It can also help to make your relationship with your neighbors a bit friendlier. The outside component of most air conditioning systems is usually where all the noise and vibrations come from anyway, and so your neighbors are likely to hear and feel it as well.

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