Monthly Archives: July 2011

An Air Conditioner Water Heater

We stumbled upon a cool new HVAC unit the other day. It is called the Air Conditioner Water Heater and is provided by Hotspot Energy. Now storing heat is not something you normally think of when you turn your AC unit on but that is exactly what this unit does.

The ACWH works by having a condenser unit which sits outside collecting heat the air conditioner compresses and releases outside. Heat then passes through a heat exchanger connected to the water tank. The process of heating water while cooling your home can help save you energy and money because the heat recovery process eases the load of your AC unit. Using the ACWH on a mild day won’t reduce your water heating costs much but at its peak, the unit can provide 18,000 BTU’s of cooling using 1333 watts/hr.

The ACWH is ideal for homeowners living in the south or if you run your AC unit most of the year. It can heat 100 gallons of water per day, has a 18 SEER rating, LCD display, sleep mode, auto restart and digital timer. HotSpot energy claims it can save a homeowner about $1,800 per year.

Although the Air Conditioner Water Heater is probably not suitable for homeowners in the area it is good to know these products exist and that the HVAC industry is embracing technology and going green. If you’re planning to retire down south, this little number may be a realistic unit for your future!

What does SEER mean?

When our technicians are out in the field going from home to home they get asked a lot of questions about air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters and air ducts. One of the most common questions we have been hearing lately is about SEER. This post will clarify what SEER is and what it means for your family.

Starting in 1979 the Department of Energy wanted to give homeowners and HVAC professionals a rating system for air condition units. The rating system is the SEER you see on your air conditioner and refers to the efficiency of the unit. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) relays how well your air conditioner converts electricity to cool power based on the cost of electricity. To calculate the SEER, take the output of BTU’s during a cooling season calculated by dividing the total electric energy input in watt-hours during the same period. Did we lose you yet? No worries, the SEER is also marked on the AC unit or you can also call the manufacturer. Just remember, the higher the SEER rating the more efficient your AC is apt to be. This is because the more efficient your air condition unit is the less energy it uses to cool your home.

We say the higher the SEER rating the more apt it is to be more efficient but this might not always be the case. The SEER rating is the overall performance the air conditioning unit can achieve if everything is running at its optimal performance. If there you haven’t had your unit charged and tuned up or if there isn’t enough Freon or refrigerant charge in the air conditioner, you will not be getting the optimal SEER rating out of your unit. Be sure to get seasonal air condition tune ups to be sure your getting the most out of your AC unit.

SEER is not only energy efficient and nice to talk about but it means savings for homeowners like you. The more cooling/heating a system releases for each unit of energy it consumes, the higher rating it will receive. The higher the efficiency rating, the less energy it consumes which means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment. So you’re saving money and the world all at once! Now this is all nice and good but how much are you really saving? A SEER 9 AC unit compared to a unit with a SEER 13 is about 30% more efficient. The calculation is (9/13=.69), then (1-.69=.3) This is a savings of about $300 per year or $4,500 over a 15 year life of your AC unit!

Not sure what your SEER rating is? As of January 2006 all of the air conditioner units sold in the U.S. must have a SEER rating of at least 13. It is rare to see any below 9 as of now but some window units have ratings of about 10. If you’re not sure what SEER rating you have and really want to know, call the manufacturer and they should be able to tell you.

If you need a new AC, give us a call and we will give you our best price on a new unit. Hopefully this clears up all the questions about SEER ratings. Drop us a line if you have any other questions and we will be sure to respond. Til next time…..

New Energy Efficiency Standards

Recently the Department of Energy established regional standards for air conditioners and furnaces and tightened national standards for heat pumps in order to increase homeowner energy efficiency across the nation.  These energy efficiency standards on AC units, furnaces and heat pumps are a huge boost to consumers because they should save homeowners billions of dollars in energy costs. As somewhat of a shock, the standards are backed by all three of the HVAC industry, consumer advocates and environmental groups. Put together, these groups are notorious for disagreements and bickering to the point where there are very few standards passed in the industry.

The standards are set due to the fact that the northern and southern parts of the U.S. have differing climates. Although this isn’t news to anyone, standards are finally in place for the HVAC industry. Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness, Andrew deLaski said, “Differing climates such as Minneapolis and Miami need different furnace and AC standards. Until now, we’ve had one size fits all national standards. These new, regional standards are a major breakthrough that will benefit consumers and the environment.”

When the new standards take effect, a new air conditioner in the South will use about 40% less energy and a new furnace in the North will use about 20% less energy than before the standards were set. The standards will also reduce the peak electric demand by decreasing cooling energy use on summer days thus reducing demand on the grid and the amount of emissions from power plants. The Department of Energy believes the air condition and heat pump standards will save 156 billion kilowatt hours over 30 years with a cost savings of $4.2 billion and the new furnace standards will save 31 billion therms with a cost savings of $14.5 billion!

This is definitely great news for the HVAC industry and for consumers. There is a direct benefit to cost savings, energy efficiency and environmental responsibility and is a standard we firmly support. Let us know what you think about the new standards.

Energy Saving Tips

We get this type of question all throughout the hot summer months – How do we make the most of our HVAC units and stay energy efficient? This is a valid question, especially in the economic times we are in now as everyone is trying to cut costs and save money. Some easy ways homeowners can improve energy efficiency, protect the environment and keep your home cool are listed below:

  • Make sure your air flow ends up where it is supposed to instead of leaking out, wasting energy and not cooling all the areas of your home.
  • Dirt build up in your AC unit can lead to system overload resulting in your unit working harder. Regularly changing your air filters will help decrease the amount of energy your unit expends cooling your home and will also help clean your air reducing  allergies and asthma.
  • Insulate your Home
  • This will reduce the rate of heat flowing in your home during the summer and reduce the amount of heat leaving your home in the winter.
  • If you leave for vacation, turn the water heater down when it is not in use and there is no reason to heat the water.
  • Use LED or CFL Lights
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 70% less energy and last longer than regular light bulbs. A simple switch such as this can significantly reduce your monthly energy bill.
  • Plant Trees
  • Planting trees and shrubs around your house will help to deflect wind and sun, thus keeping your house comfortable during the changing seasons.
  • Install New Windows
  • Upgrading your windows to double paned, adding storm windows, adding an extra pane of glass or inserting a window tint are all options to help maintain a more energy efficient home.

Some of these options are higher cost than others while others are more easily attainable right now. These are only some of the options available to your family to help increase the efficiency of your HVAC units. Drop us a line if you need more tips, new units or anything else!