Archive for May, 2011

Cleaning Air Conditioners

Monday, May 30th, 2011

One of the best things you can do to help maintain high indoor air quality in your 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.

Is it Possible to Vent Hot Air from a Garage?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

If you have a garage, you know how hot it can get in there on a warm summer day. In fact, the air in your garage is likely hotter and more humid than the air right outside. Of course, you may not spend a lot of time in your garage, so reducing the temperature in there might not be an immediate concern for you.

But just like heat buildup in your attic, higher temperatures in your garage can have negative effects on the temperature in the rest of your home. Heat seeping into the house from the garage will cause your air conditioning system to work harder to keep it comfortable indoors. And that’s going to cost you money.

Getting the Heat Out

For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to reduce the temperature in your garage as soon as possible. Of course, if you’re actively working in the garage or right outside, you can always leave the door open. This allows an influx of fresh, cooler air to clear it out.

But that’s not really a practical solution when you’re not immediately on hand. After all, you can’t leave your garage door open indefinitely and as soon as you close it, the heat will start to build right back up again.

Vents and Fans

One thing we don’t want to forget is that heat rises. That means installing a vent and fan in the roof where the hottest air will be can help remove the majority of the excess heat building up in your garage. Just like an attic fan, this fan can be triggered to come on when the temperature inside the garage reaches a certain point. Usually, the fan comes on when the indoor temperature reaches a point that is likely higher than outside – 90 degrees F or higher.

The fan then draws hot air out through your vent, reducing the temperature inside the garage to equalize the outdoor temperature. This will be effective in and of itself, but if you want even better results, you can also install another vent towards the bottom of your garage door. That way, as the hot air is pulled out of the top of the garage, fresh air will be drawn in through the vent, providing a constant stream of cooler, fresh air and promoting healthy circulation within your garage.

DOAS – Dedicated Outdoor Air System

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Achieving proper ventilation is a major concern in a building of any size. Because of this, most commercial HVAC systems incorporate a component that mixes fresh, outdoor air with recycled air returned from circulation in the building and mixes these together to prepare them for recirculation. In this mixing chamber, the air is also reconditioned and filtered to make it acceptable for use throughout the building.

However, recently a new method for introducing fresh, outdoor air into a building has been gaining in popularity. This is the dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) and it involves the use of a separate compartment for conditioning outdoor air and recycled indoor air. Rather than mixing the air from these two different sources together, the DOAS keeps them separate so the amount of fresh air that reaches each part of the building can be more carefully regulated.

Advantages of the DOAS Setup

This is, in fact, the main reason that a DOAS setup is so desirable. There are specific regulations concerning how much fresh air must reach each area of a building on a regular basis. With more conventional models that mix outdoor and indoor air together prior to circulation, meeting these standards becomes a matter of guesswork, estimation and percentages.

However, with a DOAS in place, it’s possible to monitor exactly how much outdoor air each section of the building receives. These systems are also quite adept at regulating humidity, a major concern when it comes to any type of HVAC system.

Cost and Integration

While a DOAS is certainly different in many ways from a conventional system setup, it still makes use of the same parts and attachments. That means it’s quite easy to integrate into an existing system and because it can use existing parts, you won’t pay extra for repairs or installation over a traditional system.

While this technology is still considered experimental, the benefits are clear and it has been used effectively in many different types of buildings over the last few years. No matter how large or small your space is, providing adequate ventilation is a significant concern, so it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at these DOAS to see what they may be able to offer your company.

Radiant v. Air Based Parallel Cooling System

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

When you incorporate a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) into the cooling system for your building, you’ll need to supplement it with another parallel cooling system. DOAS systems are important because they ensure a proper and consistent influx of fresh air, but they can’t typically handle the entire cooling load of a building on their own. Luckily, there are a number of options for a supplemental system. Specifically, when you want the right system to supplement a DOAS, you have two choices – air based or radiant cooling.

Air Based Parallel Cooling

In an air based parallel cooling system, reconditioned air from the building is used to compliment the fresh air supplied by the DOAS. This reconditioned air can be mixed with the DOAS and then circulated throughout the building, or the two types of air can be circulated separately through their own ductwork systems.

It’s easy to see how putting in two systems of ducts could increase your initial installation costs if you go that route. But by keeping the two types of air separate, you’ll always have the right combination of fresh and recirculated air in each area of your building.

Combining these two air sources prior to building-wide circulation, on the other hand, can both save you on initial installation costs and on operating costs, as the fan power needed to circulate air from a single supply is much less than what you would need for two separate supplies.

Radiant Parallel Cooling

However, there is another option entirely when you’re trying to supplement your DOAS – radiant parallel cooling. This involves installing a system of radiant cooling panels throughout the building. These panels are cooled continuously so they absorb heat from people and objects in each room.

As the panels absorb heat and carry it away, the change in air temperature near the panels leads to the development of natural convection currents that gradually spread the cool air throughout the room. Radiant cooling is ideal for use with a DOAS because it requires very little additional energy usage and no fan or ductwork.

Particularly if you are installing a system in a building for the first time and have no ducts or other features in place yet, radiant ceiling panels can be the ideal choice from both a functional and budgetary standpoint.

The system that works best for you will depend largely on the current layout of your building, the specific cooling needs of tenants or employees, and your target installation costs. Make sure to do your research well in advance before choosing your cooling method and you’ll be set for years to come.

Passive Ground Source-Based Cooling

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Although there are plenty of active ways to cool your home, sometimes a passive system makes the most sense. If you think about it, you know that the ground in the summer is cooler than the air. And the deeper you go, the cooler it gets. So wouldn’t it be great if you could harness that coolness in some way and use it to cool the air in your home?

How Passive Ground Source-Based Cooling Works

Well, the truth is that you can. That’s exactly what ground source-based cooling systems do. While similar to geothermal heat pumps in some basic ways, ground-source based cooling systems use much less energy to achieve their results. Instead of using coolant and a compressor to transfer heat from your home to the ground, passive ground-source based systems simply carry cold water from the ground to your home where it can then cool the air.

Traditional systems are more complicated in many ways. Air conditioners use coolant and electricity and even geothermal heat pumps use a condenser to transfer air into and out of your home. With a  passive ground source cooling system, the amount of energy put into the cooling of your home is reduced to practically nothing – there are  few systems that offer these results without costing you a lot in monthly bills.

System Requirements

Of course, if you want to put a system like this in place in your home, you need access to a naturally cooled supply of water. Unless you live near a large pond, lake or other ground level water source, this involves digging down to access the groundwater below your home. Depending on how far down you have to go to reach an acceptable water supply, installing this type of system can cost you quite a bit.

But if you do have easy access to naturally cold water, a ground source-based passive cooling system is an excellent option. And even if you have to spend a bit more on installation by drilling or digging, you’ll more than make up for that cost through what you’ll save in monthly energy bills. Air conditioners are great but they suck power, and if you can find a way to cool your home without one, you’ll be much better off in the long run.

Baker named in Top 500 Companies!

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Baker and Sons Air Conditioning has been named one of the Top 500 Companies on the Florida Gulf coast by Gulf Coast Business Review.

This is the third consecutive year that Baker and Sons has been awarded this honor!

How to Reduce the Load on Your Central Air Conditioner

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Your central air conditioner can handle a lot. It can keep your house cool and comfortable all summer long with only a minimum of maintenance. And if you have a newer, more energy efficient model, you probably are not even paying very much for this luxury. But no matter how good your air conditioning system is, it is always best if you can reduce its cooling load as much as possible.

Cutting down on the amount of work your central air conditioner has to do will save you money both in the short term and in the long term. You will be able to keep your house cool all summer while paying even less than you already do and you will help to extend the life of your system as well.

In general, reducing the cooling load that your air conditioner is responsible for involves keeping your house cooler by some other means. One great option when this is your goal is to have some ceiling fans installed. These help to circulate cool air and also create a breeze that can make it feel cooler even if the actual indoor temperature is the same.

With adequate ceiling fans in place, you will usually be able to turn up the thermostat on your central air conditioner and still be completely comfortable indoors. Turning up the temperature on the thermostat means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard because it will not have to get the indoor temperature down so low.

You can also reduce the indoor temperature in your house by blocking the sunlight that comes in and warms up the indoor air. Drawing the blinds, especially in those rooms that receive warmer afternoon sunlight will keep that sun from raising your indoor temperature. This, in turn, means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard to get the temperature back down.

You can also help to keep cool air inside and warmer air out by covering any doors and windows you are not likely to use with plastic. Also, check to make sure there are no cracks or drafts anywhere that may be letting in air from the outside or allowing cooler indoor air to escape. All of these things can make it possible for your air conditioner to keep your home cool without working so hard, and that will also mean that you will be paying less each month on your energy bills.

What Can You Do Yourself if Your Central AC Unit Does Not Work? When Should You Call a Professional?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

If your air conditioning system suddenly stops working or is not keeping your house as cool as you think it should, the chances are good that you will have to call in a professional to make the necessary repairs and get you back on track. However, there are a few things you can do on your own before you make that call to ensure that this really is something you cannot take care of on your own.

While it may seem obvious, the first thing you should check is the thermostat to make sure that it is set to a temperature that will trigger the air conditioning to come on. If your thermostat for some reason is set too high, then the air conditioner will not receive the signal to start cooling the house. This is an easy fix, of course, and you will be back up and running in no time.

If the thermostat is indeed set where it should be, the next thing to check is the air filter. Most people with central air conditioning know that they should change the filter once every month or so, but this seldom actually happens.

If it has been a while since your air filter was changed, there is a good chance that it is clogged and therefore blocking air from circulating from the air conditioner through the rest of the house. This is an easy enough fix, as all you need to do is replace the current air filter and your system should be able to pick up right where it left of. However, if the blocked air filter has also caused ice to form behind it, you may have to wait for a couple of hours until the ice has a chance to thaw.

Next, you will want to check and make sure that the air conditioning system is actually getting power. Look to see if any of the breakers are tripped or if there may have been a current interruption for any other reason that is within your power to fix. If this is the case, though, it is a good idea to turn the air conditioning system off before you attempt to restore the power.

If none of these measures are able to get your air conditioning system up and running again, you should not hesitate to call a professional. Many air conditioning repairs are quite basic, but they still need to be performed by a licensed professional.

What Is the Energy Star Label?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Any time you go out and buy any type of appliance, you probably notice that some have a distinct mark that signifies them as Energy Star appliances. That sounds like a good thing, of course, but what does it actually mean? Should you always buy an Energy Star model over another type?

The Energy Star label was originally developed to help consumers more easily recognize appliances that are more energy efficient than the average. In order to obtain an Energy Star seal of approval, any device must meet very strict guidelines when it comes to energy efficiency.

What that translates into for you as a consumer is a lower monthly energy bill when you buy Energy Star appliances. Of course, once they have obtained an Energy Star labels, manufacturers can charge whatever they want for their product, and it is not unusual to pay more for a model that is certified an Energy Star.

However, as long as the potential savings over time that you will get by using the Energy Star model as opposed to one that is not as energy efficient outweigh the difference in initial purchase price, it is worth it to spend a bit more on the Energy Star model.

Keep in mind, though, that just because a produce meets the Energy Star guidelines for energy efficiency does not necessarily mean that it is a superior product in terms of quality or overall effectiveness. Plus, not all Energy Star appliances are created equal. You should still do your research and pick out the product that will both save you the most money and has the best chance of getting the job done right.

Another benefit to Energy Star products is that, because they use less energy when they run, they also have a smaller impact on the environment than a model that uses a greater amount of energy to perform the same tasks.

Overall, it is definitely worth taking a closer look at all of the Energy Star options out there when you are purchasing an air conditioning system or any other type of appliance. Using less energy is always a good thing both for your bank account and for the planet. But you also want to make sure you are actually getting the best product for your money.

What Is Mini Split Air Conditioning?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

If you are in the market for a new air conditioning system, you have probably heard about the mini split systems that are becoming more and more popular these days. However, without more information, it can be difficult to determine whether or not this type of air conditioner is what you really need to keep your home comfortable all summer.

Mini split air conditioners, like most other conventional home air conditioning systems, are made up of two components. They have an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit that manages the airflow throughout your home. What sets mini split systems apart is that they don’t use air ducts when distributing the cold or hot air throughout your home. The indoor unit is mounted in a room, connected to the main unit by small refrigerant lines.

In a conventional air conditioning system, the outdoor condenser cools the air and then transfers it through air ducts to an indoor air handler. That air handler then takes care of distributing the air throughout your house via a larger series of air ducts.

Mini split systems, on the other hand, do not require air ducts to get the job done. Instead, these types of air conditioners make use of a wall mounted unit indoors to both cool and circulate the air after receiving coolant from the compressor outside. These wall mounted systems can typically handle the cooling load for one or two rooms and there can be more than one indoor unit hooked up to the same outdoor compressor, allowing you to cool your entire house in this way.

What makes mini splits attractive to many people is the fact that they do not require the installation of complicated ductwork to function. If your home does not already have ducts in place, adding them can dramatically increase the cost of putting in a central air conditioning system. Plus the work will take longer and is likely to be a larger disruption in your life. Mini split systems allow you to control the temperature in the various areas of your house independently of one another, making it possible to save quite a bit on your cooling bills every month.