Aug 09 , 2016

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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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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

Jun 07 , 2016

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June is going to be a hot one for us in Tucson.  Here are some ideas on how to not go broke with high AC bills:

  • Plant a leafy tree around your home’s exterior. This will provide shade for your home and planting them around or over your air conditioner could increase your AC’s efficiency by up to 10%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • It’s good to be comfortable so go ahead and lower your air conditioner’s thermostat setting to 76 to78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. Program your thermostat to a few degrees higher temperature at night or when you’re not at home. You can save 5% to 15% on your air-conditioning bills by raising the temperature setting when you’re away, according to the Department of Energy.
  • Use fans to help circulate the air in your house. Moving air will help keep you cooler by evaporating the sweat from your skin.
  • If possible, skip the stove-top boiling and oven baking by grilling or microwaving meals. After cooking, turn on the kitchen exhaust, and turn on the bathroom exhaust fan after a hot shower. By removing the heat and moisture at the source, you can reduce.
  • AC efficiency is mostly a function of the technology. Therefore keep the filter clean to allow for good air movement and keep the unit level so the condensation drains properly.
  • Put the AC fan speed on high, except on especially humid days, says the U.S. Department of Energy. On humid days, place the speed on low. The slower air movement through the air-condition equipment removes more moisture from the air, improving comfort in your home.
  • Window films are another option. They are transparent, metalized sheets that reflect heat before it can be transmitted through glass.
  • If you swap your older room air conditioner for a newer unit, you could reduce your energy costs by half, according to the Department of Energy. Look for a high-energy-efficiency ratio, or EER, or an Energy Star-qualified unit. Higher EER ratings mean a more efficient air conditioner. Energy Star refers to a system adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy to identify energy-efficient products.

May 04 , 2016

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Homeowners have a variety of choices in energy efficient air filters.  Here is a list of filters to choose from:

  • Economy panel filters– You will usually find these in a four or five pack. They are relatively inexpensive; however you get what you pay for. These filters simply do not filter much at all and you will probably be replacing them once a month to work efficiently.
  • Pleated filters– Pleated filters can last up to six months are on average 10% to 60% more efficient than conventional AC filters. They cost more, but worth it in the long run.
  • Electrostatic filters– These are both energy-efficient and cost-effective. They may cost a little more but can typically be washed and reused.
  • Electronic filters– These filters can get dusty quickly, but it typically does not negatively impact airflow. To clean them, you need to remove the cells, soak them in cleaner, rinse and reuse.
  • HEPA filters– Although HEPA filters are the most efficient, you will likely pay a premium for these filters.

Family Air can assist you in keeping your HVAC running at an optimal level of efficiency and determine when your air filter needs to be replaced and the best one to replace it with.   Give us a call today!

Apr 26 , 2016

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Did you know that changing your HVAC filter can help improve the efficiency of your HVAC equipment up to 15%?  You heating and cooling unit makes up approximately 50% of your energy bill so by changing your filter on a regular basis, your $200 month bill could be lowered by $15 to $30 a month.  Not bad!

How do you determine when your filter needs changing?

  • Do you have pets? You should consider changing the filter monthly unless the pet is a fish.
  • What is the current air quality? If you have allergies, change the air filter monthly to keep the air fresh and clear.
  • How many people live in your home? More people = more dust that is flying around.  If you live alone with no pets, you can change seasonally.
  • Get in the habit of checking your filters at the beginning of every month. Temperature and seasons effect the dust collection of the filter.

Mar 08 , 2016

The temperature is heating up early this year in Southern Arizona. Did you know that 54% of your utility bill is from heating and cooling your home? Right now you might be enjoying low utility bills, but summer days are coming, and you need to be prepared!

Here are some tips:

Clean or Replace the Filters

Clean or replace your filters on a monthly basis. If you don’t, air flow will be restricted which will reduce efficiency and you will be recirculating dust into your home. Your allergies will thank you!

Clean the A/C Condenser Coils

A central air conditioner’s condenser unit is essentially a large fan in a metal box with sides that look like grilles. If debris has gotten inside your unit, dirt is probably clogging the coils. Anything that obstructs the flow of air will cut down your condenser’s efficiency, so it is important to clean the coils at the beginning of every cooling season.

Check the Coolant Lines

The refrigerant tubes or pipes that run from the evaporator on the air handler to the condenser outside are typically covered with foam coolant line insulation to prevent them from losing energy. If you have areas where the insulation is frayed or missing, you need to replace it with either foam insulation sleeves or by wrapping the lines in a spiral fashion with foam insulation tape.

Test the Unit

If your A/C unit isn’t running properly, please contact us at Family Air.

Tips taken from Don Vandervolt’s article on HomeTips.com

 

Feb 17 , 2016

Now you can receive instant rebates on air conditioners, heat pumps and duct system sealing from TEP when you hire Family Air for your cooling and heating needs.

The following rebates are available to TEP customers:

ENERGY STAR® AC/heat pump quality installation $500
ENERGY STAR® AC/heat pump quality installation with early retirement of qualifying existing system* $850
Equipment downsizing or variable speed unit incentives (with qualifying AC/heat pump) $150
Duct sealing — varies based on actual leakage reduced: up to $450
Existing unit being replaced must have a rated or operating EER of < 8.5 as screened by a TEP Efficient Home Program contractor.

Give us a call today to see how we can save you money on your air and/or heating unit!

Jan 20 , 2016

There are a variety of ways to protect and improve your indoor air quality. The 3 basic strategies to improve indoor air quality are as follows:

Source Control

The most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions.Some sourcescan be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.

Ventilation Improvements

Another approach is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors.Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors increases the outdoor ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate. This is especially important while painting, paint stripping, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such as welding, soldering, or sanding.

Air Cleaners

There are many types and sizes of air cleaners on the market, some air cleaners are highly effective at particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less so. Air cleaners are generally not designed to remove gaseous pollutants.

The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it collects pollutants from indoor air (expressed as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute).
A very efficient collector with a low air-circulation rate will not be effective, nor will a cleaner with a high air-circulation rate but a less efficient collector.

Contact Family Air to check the indoor quality of your home and suggest improvements.

Content provided by USA Environmental Protective Agency

Dec 02 , 2015

The average life span of a furnace is approximately 20 to 30 years, however if your unit is over 15 years old it is probably a good idea to review and consider furnace replacement options which will be more efficient and save you money.
Here are some indicators it may be time for you to replace your furnace

  • The furnace constantly needs repairs.
  • Yourgas/electric bill is going up despite usage staying the same.
  • The rooms in your house are heating unevenly
  • The furnace is cycling on and off frequently
  • Your furnace is noisy and develops hums, buzzes and rattles
  • Your furnace puts out excessive dust particles.
  • You see signs of rust in and around your furnace, or the components show cracks or corrosion.

If your furnace is exhibiting any of the above warning signs, call Family Air to inspect the unit. A simple repair may be able to solve your problem or they can give you advice on the best type of unit to replace it with.


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Oct 18 , 2015

Sure the weather is still warm in October but you should not wait until the cold weather arrives to maintain your furnace. Through preparing your furnace for winter requires a little effort to keep you and your family comfortable when the cold weather finally gets here. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests checking your furnace before cold weather arrives so if your furnace malfunctions, you can have it repaired before you need indoor heating~ what a concept!

Here are some helpful tips for you:

  • Replace the air filter in your furnace each Locate the filter and pull it out. Slide the new filter into the slot, following the arrows on the frame of the filter.
  • Consider upgrading the filter if your current filter is a flat filter. Upgrading to a pleated filter, HEPA filter or electrostatic filter increases the energy efficiency of your furnace and allows the warm air to flow unimpeded through your home.
  • Clean your air vents and ducts. Remove the vent covers with a screwdriver. Use the extension hose of your vacuum to remove the dust.
  • Inspect the blower belt for cracks. Turn off the power to the furnace at the main circuit breaker. Use a screwdriver to remove the steel cover of the air handler. The blower belt is the largest rubber belt that you see. Replace the belt if it is cracked.
  • Engage your set-back, or programmable, thermostat so it automatically lowers the temperature while you are asleep or away from your home. According to the Consumer Energy Center, you could save from 20 to 75 percent on your furnace’s operating costs by using this type of thermostat.
  • Inspect the exhaust flue outdoors to ensure it is free of obstructions such as branches or animal nests.
  • Keep the area around your furnace unit free of debris and clutter.
  • Open all your air vents. Remove furniture, boxes and clutter that get in the way of air flowing from the vents.
  • Any problems? Call Family Air Cooling and Heating and we’ll get it fixed for you!

Tips from SF Gate Home Guides, Jessica Lietz