Aug 22 , 2017

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Comments Off on Is it time to replace your air conditioner unit?

It’s been a hot summer here in Tucson and chances are next summer is going to be the same.  The fall is actually a good time to purchase a new unit since costs are usually lower.  Yes, a new unit is a big investment, but so is the cost of continuing to repair an old and inefficient unit.

Here are 5 ways to help determine if you need to invest in a new AC Unit:

  1. What is the age of your current unit? Age is one of the most importance factors. In general, you can expect a well-maintained air conditioner to last about 10-15 years. If your unit is older, time to consider a new unit.
  2. The Energy Efficiency Factor.New units are more efficient than ones built a decade ago. In fact, newly manufactured air conditioners have to have a SEER rating of at least 13. If your air conditioner’s SEER rating is below 13, you can cut back on your energy costs by replacing it with a new, more efficient unit. Keep in mind that if your air conditioner has a low SEER rating, it will cost you more money to operate. New units can save you up to 20% in savings.
  3. Is your AC unit having frequent breakdowns?Is your air conditioner is constantly breaking down causing you to break down? Repair costs can really add up quickly, and it doesn’t make sense to keep making them on older units that are at the end of their life cycle. Take the age of your AC unit and multiple that by the repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000 ~ time to replace the unit.
  4. Does your air conditioner use R 22 Freon?Freon is being phased outby the federal government in order to conserve energy nationwide.  This factor is making the costs of Freon to soar.  If you’re having major problems with your air conditioner, especially if they involve the need for more Freon due to a leak, it’s probably a good time to replace your unit in order to switch over to the new refrigerant (R410A).
  5. Is your home always hot?Does your air conditioner seem to run constantly and you don’t feel comfortable? This could be due to an aging air conditioner or a system that is not sized correctly. If your AC unit is going to keep your home cool and you have high energy bills, you’ll want to replace it with a unit that will.

Jul 10 , 2017

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Comments Off on Summer heat tips for outside workers

Working outdoors during the harsh Southern Arizona summer heat increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress. People affected include construction workers, HVAC workers, landscapers, police, firefighters, and many others. Also those who drive in vehicles for work are at risk, due to the repetitive entering and exiting of their vehicle.  If you work in the heat, follow these 10 tips to minimize your risk and stay safe during the hot summer days.

  1. Avoid dehydration. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Instead drink small amounts frequently at regular intervals until you are feeling hydrated.
  1. Carry a water bottle. You are more inclined to drink water when it is readily available, so keep a water bottle handy.
  1. Wear a hydration backpack. If a water bottle is not feasible or refill facilities are not close, a hydration backpack is great for hands free hydration.
  1. Monitor your number one. Urine color is the easiest way to monitor your hydration levels, the darker the color the more water you need. Check out: http://www.urinecolors.com/themes/uctheme/assets/dehydration-chart.pdf
  1. Avoid ice cold drinks. Cold water causes the blood vessels in the stomach to constrict, reducing the rate of fluid absorption. Cool water is absorbed faster, which is important to keep you hydrated when working in the heat.
  1. Limit caffeine intake. Avoid consuming caffeine before and during work (this includes coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks). Caffeine has a diuretic effect which contributes to dehydration.
  1. Check your meals. Eat food that contains extra water like watermelon. And ensure your diet includes lots of leafy greens, fresh fruit and nuts to help replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat.
  1. Apply UV protection. Apply SPF 50+ sunscreen before you finish putting on your clothes and reapply to sun exposed areas at least once during the day.
  1. Dress appropriately. Choose lightweight, breathable clothing made from organic materials such as cotton or hemp.
  1. Wear a hat. Find a hat that will shade your nose and neck.

And for those that have hired outdoor workers, offer them water and an opportunity to refill their bottles.

May 01 , 2017

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Comments Off on Getting your AC Summer Ready

Temperatures are heating up and the last thing you want is to flip the switch on your air conditioning and get hot air. Here are some tips for prepping your unit for summer.

Clean or replace your air filers – Over the winter your air filters get clogged with dust and restrict air flow which in turn will reduce efficiency and cause dust particles to be recirculated into your home.

Clean the condenser coils – the coils look like a large fan that is protected by a condenser cover to prevent debris. If you don’t have a cover, leaves and dirt get in the coils and clogs the coils. You will need to remove the side or protective grill and with a refrigerator coil brush or soft vacuum brush, gently clean the coils being careful not to bend or damage the coils.

Check coolant lines – these lines are typically covered with a foam coolant line of insulation to prevent them from losing energy. If you see areas where the insulation is thin or missing, replace it.

Test your unit – turn the thermostat in your home of the off position, then turn on the unit.

If you need help with any of the above, contact Family Air to help troubleshoot and make repairs if needed.

Content from Home Tips.com

Mar 27 , 2017

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Comments Off on Air Quality Control to Help Lesson your Spring Allergies

Spring has sprung along with all the sneezing, runny eyes and coughing of air pollen.  Your home should be providing you a safe haven. Here are some devices to help:

HEPA Filters: HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air-filter and were developed during the Apollo era of space exploration. They can filter most substances from the air, down to 0.3 microns in size. They are helpful in filtering pollen, mold spores, animal dander, and fumes basically all the things that make your allergies flair up!

HEPA filters have become increasingly available in many discount home improvement stores. Other factors to consider before buying include the required interval between changing filters, the ease of obtaining replacement filters, and warranties.

Dehumidifiers: Dehumidifying the air is easily accomplished with an air conditioner, but this is practical only in hot weather. The correct placement and use of fans and vents can help reduce humidity as can a dehumidifier machine. The most important point about a dehumidifier is that it must be cleaned daily ~ otherwise molds will flourish in the collection chamber making your problem worse than it was in the first place.

Humidity gauges are readily available at any hardware store. A range of 40-50% humidity is good and anything lower than 35% can make breathing uncomfortable especially for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Generally speaking, low humidity is not the health problem that high humidity can be.

Air Conditioning & Heating Systems: Air conditioners are critical in filtering summertime air for people that are allergic to molds and pollens. Air Conditioners function as excellent dehumidifiers, thus limiting the growth of dust mites and molds. Another unexpected benefit is that the airflow discourages cockroaches since they prefer non-ventilated spaces (what’s not to like!).

Central air-conditioning and heating systems may also come with electrostatic filters that catch smaller particles than regular filters. The filters charge the particles in the air as they pass through the filter. The charged particles are then trapped by an oppositely charged plate in the unit. These devices must be cleaned frequently as well.

Information taken from medicinenet.com

Feb 27 , 2017

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Comments Off on When should you replace your heater?

Here are some signs that will help tell you that it may be time to consider replacing your furnace.

Your heat pump is over 10 years old.
Consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20% on heating costs. Not a bad deal.

Your furnace is over 15 years old.
Consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace.

You are constantly servicing the equipment and notice that your energy bills are on the rise.
Your heating equipment may have become less efficient and as a result, costing you dollars.

Some rooms in your home are either too hot or too cold.
Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.

You do not have a programmable thermostat.
An easy way to save money on your energy bills would to Install a programmable thermostat that varies the temperature during the day while you are away and at night while you are sleeping.

Your home has humidity problems.
Poor equipment operation, inadequate equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer.

Your home has excessive dust.
Yes, we do live in the desert, but leaky ducts can pull particles of air from crawl spaces and distribute them throughout your house. Sealing your ducts may be a solution and help with your allergies to boot!

Your heating system is getting noisy.
You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.

Family Air is a preferred contractor of TEP and able to assist you with making your HVAC system run efficiently.  Call us today.

Above tips taken from Energy Savings Tips

Dec 01 , 2016

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Comments Off on TEP Efficient Home Program

Improve the safety, comfort and energy efficiency of your house by taking advantage of the TEP Efficient Home Program incentives.  It’s easy!  Just call Family Air ~ a participating contractor and request a heat pump/air conditioner efficiency screening.

Family Air will perform an efficiency screening on your existing equipment and confirm in writing the TEP rebates you are eligible for.  We will inspect your duct system and perform certain specified repairs to ensure the air you heat and cool stays inside your home. In homes where significant duct leakage is detected, additional incentives may be available for repairs not included under the installation of new equipment.

When you elect to replace your existing equipment with qualifying new equipment and have your ducts sealed, Family Air will use a CheckMe!® computer diagnostics to confirm a proper installation with the correct refrigerant charge and air flow.

Your TEP Efficient Home Program rebate will be provided by your participating contractor as a line-item credit at the time of invoicing.

What are you waiting for?

Nov 01 , 2016

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Comments Off on Preparing your home for winter

Well, we are finally starting to see fall-like weather here in Tucson which means winter is just around the corner (maybe!).   It is still a good practice to make sure your home will be ready when the cold temperature hits.  Here are some tips for you to prepare:

  1. Schedule a routine maintenance and inspection of your heating system in November to make sure it is in good working order. You don’t want to flip the switch on in December and discover no heat is coming out.
  2. Be sure to replace your heater’s air filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Your heating system will work less hard, use less energy and last longer as a result. It is also not a bad idea clean the dust from vents for better efficiency.
  3. If your heating system is over 15 years old, you might consider updating it with one of the more efficient newer models. You can cut your energy use and your monthly bill!
  4. Re-set your thermostat. A set-back thermostat allows you to automatically turn down the heat when you’re away at work or when you’re sleeping at night, and then boost the temperature to a comfortable level when you need it. Remember – it takes less energy to warm a cool home than to maintain a warm temperature all day long. Properly using your set-back thermostat could cut your heating costs from 20 to 75 percent.
  5. Reverse the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward, toward the ceiling. By reversing the fan’s direction, the blades move air upward in winter. This is especially valuable in high ceiling rooms, where heat that naturally rises is forced back down into the room.
  6. Make sure all heating vents are opened and unblocked by furniture or other items. This will ensure that the air is evenly distributed through the home.

Contact Family Air to schedule an annual check on your heating system and make sure you are prepared for the winter months ahead.

Sep 12 , 2016

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Comments Off on Your Allergies and Air Conditioning – September 2016

As fall approaches in Tucson, the weather change also brings on those dreaded allergies.  Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself at least while you are inside your home!

Your air conditioner can protect you from the outside elements and is definitely a better solution than the old swamp cooler for your allergies. However you still need to keep the unit properly maintained.

Air Filters – check your air filter at least every 30 days to see if it needs changing.   Most people only check these 2-4 times a year ~ not enough.  If you are not changing your air filter regularly, the filter will become overloaded with airborne particles and dust, making your air conditioning unit work less effectively.  If you used reusable filers, make sure that after you wash them that they are completely dried before re-installing.  Otherwise they become an ideal spot for bacteria to grow.

Air Ducts – Check your air ducts for leaks since condensation happens when the cool air meets the warm air in your ducts when using air conditioning.  These should be cleaned annually to decrease the risk of mold.

Family Air can check your air ducts and air filters during an annual inspection test to keep your allergies in check.   Call us today to learn how we can assist you in improving the air quality in your home.

Aug 09 , 2016

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Comments Off on Understanding what SEER Means

SEER is probably the least understood concept.  It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, but that probably doesn’t help you much. The SEER rating is the resulting number that is applied to an air conditioner. Therefore, the higher the SEER rating then the more energy efficient a given air conditioner unit should be.

But how do you determine what SEER level is high enough for your home? Given a choice of 5 different SEER rating which one should you select? SEER ratings can run between the federal minimum of 13 SEER to the extreme high of 23 SEER.

SEER is simply a formula that is described by the outcome of the following:

Divide the system’s rated BTU’s by the unit’s stated SEER rating to determine how many watts it consumes per hour, (Kwh stands for kilo-watt hour).

Here’s the formula (our example will use 15 SEER):

36,000 Btu’s divided by 15 SEER = 2,400 watts

The 2,400 represents the number of watts consumed each operating hour by the system.

In order to determine which SEER rating choice is best for you by determining your annual operating cost. You need to determine how many hours, on average, your system will operate. Let’s assume you set your thermostat at 78 degrees most of the time and your home has fairly good insulation. And average use in Arizona is 2,500 hours of operation annually.

Take the number of watts from above formula (2,400) and multiple the annual operation hours (2,500)

2400 hours of operation times 2500 watts consumed per hour equals 6,000,0000

That’s a lot of zeros…now turn the number into Kwh by dividing the total watts consumed per hour (2500) by 1000, which equals 2.5 ~ 2500 divided by 1000 = 2.5

This new number (2.5) represents the number of watts your system consumes hourly, expressed in one thousand watt units, or in this case 2.5 of these thousand watt units (Kwh)

2400 hours of operation X 2.5 Kwh consumed per hour = 6000 KWH consumed by our example air conditioner annually.

Using the above formulas and a handy calculator, you can convert this into a figure used by your power company to calculate your electric bill by looking at your current bill and determine the Kwh cost used.  For example: 6000 x 11.5 cents cost per Kwh from your electric bill = 690 or $690.00 annual cost of operation for a 3 ton, 15 SEER air conditioner.

Feel free to contact us to help you sort through the SEER ratings and determine the best for your home at 520-399-5850.

Jun 28 , 2016

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Comments Off on How to Save Money with Your Thermostat

General Thermostat Operation

You can save as much as 10% a year on cooling by simply keeping your house warmer than normal by 7°-10°F when you are away and setting the thermostat to 78°F (26°C) when you are at home and need cooling. Set your thermostat at as high a temperature as comfortably possible and ensure humidity control if needed. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home. A normal programmable thermostat can be set to begin its cool down well before you leave or go to bed and return to its regular temperature two or three hours before you wake up or return home. This may require some guesswork at first, but with a little trial and error you can still save energy while maintaining a comfortable home

Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.  A higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.

Choosing and Programming a Programmable Thermostat

Most programmable thermostats are either digital, electromechanical, or some mixture of the two. Digital thermostats offer the most features in terms of multiple setback settings, overrides, and adjustments for daylight savings time, but may be difficult for some people to program. Electromechanical systems often involve pegs or sliding bars and are relatively simple to program.

When programming your thermostat, consider when you normally go to sleep and wake up. If you prefer to sleep at a cooler temperature during the winter, you might want to start the temperature setback a bit ahead of the time you actually go to bed. Also consider the schedules of everyone in the household. If there is a time during the day when the house is unoccupied for four hours or more, it makes sense to adjust the temperature during those periods.

Thermostat Location

The location of your thermostat can affect its performance and efficiency. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions to prevent “ghost readings” or unnecessary furnace or air conditioner cycling. To operate properly, a thermostat must be on an interior wall away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows. It should be located where natural room air currents–warm air rising, cool air sinking–occur. Furniture will block natural air movement, so do not place pieces in front of or below your thermostat. Also make sure your thermostat is conveniently located for programming.

Above tips were found on Energy.gov