Posts Tagged ‘Palmetto’

Palmetto Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Palmetto is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a Palmetto professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

What is a Whole House Fan?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Cooling your home is a big deal. Especially if the temperature in your home is generally very high in the summer, the cost of air conditioning is tremendous. A central air conditioner can cost between $2,000 and $4,000 to run for an average 2,800 square foot home over the course of six months. That’s a lot of electricity just to stay cool.

That’s why a whole house fan is a great option for those that want to forego the use of direct air conditioning for at least part of the year.

What It Does

A whole house fan is different from a standard air conditioner because it doesn’t use a heat exchanger to remove heat from air before it enters your home. That heat exchanger is the culprit for a large percentage of an air conditioner’s energy consumption. A whole house fan can be used when the temperature outside is lower than inside, a common occurrence on moderate days in the summer.

The whole house fan draws air and then cycles it through your air vents without cooling it. The act of moving air through your home, however, is often enough to cool the space to a comfortable level. The size of your whole house fan depends on quite a few things. First, how big is your home? Large homes that require even cooling need a larger fan to draw in air. However, small homes can often get away with models that use as little as 120 Watts of electricity. That’s less than your computer uses.

Choosing a Fan for Your Home

Keep in mind that a whole house fan only works when the temperature outside is lower than inside. If the air outside is excessively humid or if it is very warm in the hottest months of summer, you will still need an air conditioning unit. But, even if you run your air conditioner for two months out of the year, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money in the other four months by operating a whole house fan.

Whole house fans should be used in conjunction with an effective air purification system to ensure all outdoor contaminants are effectively removed before they are cycled through your house. They also require the same level of maintenance and cleaning as a normal AC system. However, with the right care, they work wonders to cut down on your energy bill.

What is the COP and Why Is It Important?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

If you’ve been researching air conditioners, you’ve probably seen all sorts of numbers associated with each model. One of these numbers is the Coefficient of Performance (COP). While it’s good to gather as much data as you can before you make a purchasing decision, you also need to know what that data means if it’s going to help you make the best selection possible.

Measuring COP

Calculating the COP for any air conditioning model is relatively simple. The number you see displayed on the box is the ratio of energy input to cooling output. For the most part, the air conditioners you’re probably been looking at have a COP of between 2.5 and 4.0, although newer models are beginning to appear with COPs of up to 5.0.

The higher the COP, of course, the more efficient the air conditioner, so it makes sense to take this number into account when you’re making your purchase. You should also keep in mind, though, that the COP is not a constant measurement. The warmer it is outside, the lower your unit’s COP will be. However, this is standard across all units, so a relative COP comparison is still a viable evaluation method.

If you’re not sure what COP you should look for or whether a lower number will be effective for your home (especially if you only need to cool a small space), you should talk to a professional who can help you match the right COP level to your particular living space.

Improving Efficiency

While it’s always a good idea to get an air conditioner with the best energy efficiency ratings possible, that’s not the only thing you can do to reduce your energy usage and keep your cooling costs down. For instance, there are plenty of ways to keep your home naturally cooler without even turning on the air conditioner.

Even when you do need to flip it on, anything else you can do to reduce the indoor temperature will make it easier for your air conditioner to keep your house comfortable. So put up some awnings, run the ceiling fan and close the blinds to block out that harsh afternoon sun. The more you can do to reduce your indoor temperature naturally, the less your air conditioner will have to do, and the lower your cooling costs will be.

Cooling Your House Naturally

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In this day and age, it seems like no matter what type of problem you have, there’s a technological solution for it. But is that solution always the best? For instance, just because you can get a high-tech air conditioning system to keep your home at the same temperature regardless of the weather outside, does that mean that you should rely solely on that system?

Of course, the choice is yours, but before you decide how best to keep your house comfortable during the warm summer months, it’s a good idea to learn a little bit more about what your other options might be.

  • Cross-Ventilation – One of the easiest ways to take the edge off when the temperature starts to rise inside is to open windows on both sides of the house. This allows the breeze to come in one side and pass out the other, taking the stale, warm indoor air with it in the process and cooling off your house naturally.
  • Stack-Ventilation – If you have a two-story home, you may want to try stack-ventilation. This variation on cross-ventilation involves opening the windows on the bottom floor on one side of your home and on the top floor on the other. The differences in pressure from one area to the next cause fresh outdoor air to be sucked in on the ground floor and pushed out on the top floor, thereby creating a strong air current throughout your home.
  • Blocking Out the Sun – The number one reason that the interior of your house gets hot in the summer is exposure to direct sunlight, so anything you can do to diminish the amount of sun that actually makes it into your home, the better off you’ll be. All you really have to do is close the blinds on those windows where sun can come in to keep the majority of that heat from impacting your indoor environment.
  • Stay Away from Dark Colors – The color of the outside of your home can also have an impact on how hot it gets indoors. Dark colors absorb the heat, while light colors reflect it. So if you want to keep the temperature down inside, stick to light colors on the exterior of your home.
  • The Importance of Shade – Any type of shade will also keep the sun’s heat out of your home. Trees are a great source of natural shade. Awnings can provide great cooling power too without blocking out your view.

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!