Saturday, 20 December 2014

How to winterize your air conditioning unit?

The air conditioning system of your house is a huge investment and plays an important role in your family’s comfort, quality of life and safety. As the winter season approaches, you may want to winterize your unit to secure it against the chilly weather conditions and save it from catching rust. Performing a few tasks will ensure that your unit remains in top working condition all year long.

Shut down your unit properly

Proper shut down of your air conditioning unit is very important if you want the machine to survive the tough winter months. Cutting the main power off will prevent someone from accidentally turning your machine on and will also prevent unnecessary damage to the unit.

Clean out the space surrounding your appliance

Make sure there are no sticks, leaves, branches, clutter, bushes, or debris in the two foot radius around your AC. This should help in preventing rust damage and clogging. Apart from this, it will also discourage any animals from taking on a cozy residence within your system. Install rubber pipe and tubular foam insulation with elbows and tees around pipes to secure against freezing.

Fact – animal damage is the main reason of harm to AC units.

Cover the unit

Cover the machine with a vinyl or plastic sheet. Some manufacturers sell covers designed specifically for air conditioning units, but you can also use vinyl or plastic covering that fits your unit. Wrap ropes or cords around the AC cover to keep it protected. Make sure the sheet is secured tightly so that it does not blow away during extreme weather conditions.

Also, check your AC covering thrice a month to make sure it is absolutely secure. Brush snow, ice and water off the unit. Remove pinecones, twigs, and other debris from the cover.

Pay equal attention to your furnace

Once your AC unit has been secured, it is time to pay attention to your furnace. Before turning on the heat during the cold winter months, perform a complete
tune-up of your heating system. One of the best ways to ensure the furnace is performing well is to have your unit cleaned by a professional.

In order to make sure your precious HVAC is performing well throughout the year, it is important to take good care of it. By following the aforementioned DIY tips, you can definitely save yourself a lot of repair fee later on. It is also wise to get in touch with an expert for help.

Friday, 21 November 2014

How to maintain your heating and cooling system?

Ventilating, air-conditioning and heating systems, also known as HVAC systems, are not only important for maintaining "thermal comfort," but can also ensure "good air quality.” However, without proper servicing and cleaning these machines may lose their efficiency and may eventually stop working. Experts believe, with proper know-how anyone can take necessary steps to keep the systems running.

How to perform regular HVAC maintenance?

Filter inspection:

Start by inspecting the HVAC filters and changing them with new ones every six months. In case you notice blockages on your filters during the monthly inspection, change them straightaway rather than waiting till six months.

Also, when replacing filters, it is important to choose the right brand. Not all brands offer the same efficiency. Talk to an expert about the best filters available in the market for your HVAC system.

Disinfect evaporator coils:

Damp evaporator coils are prone to molds and mildew. Use a solution of bleach and water to kill any 
growth on the coils. Once disinfected, clean the coils thoroughly. Indoor and outdoor evaporator coils have a tendency to get caked with dust deposits and debris. Scrub both the coils with the help of an acidic cleaner.
Make sure you wear gloves and a mask to secure yourself from both the airborne mold spores and bleach. Also, turn off the HVAC system for your safety.

Clean up excessive water:

Get rid of stagnant water pools near the air-intake vents, particularly those close to or on the roof. You can clean up the excessive water with the help of a rag to prevent molds. Some buildup is fine, but if you find pools of water accumulating near your HVAC system more often than once in six months, there is a good chance that your system has other issues.

Inspect the fans:

Another important regiment is to inspect the HVAC fans, bi-annually. Fans have a tendency to fill up with debris and dirt, lowering the air flow and efficiency. However, make sure you turn the system off to keep away from injury from the rotating fan blades. Clean up the area with a damp rag in case of minor dust deposits, or with soapy water for dried dirt.

Get professional help:

It is wise to hire a HVAC technician to inspect and clean your system every year as part of your maintenance regiment. Professional cleaning can give the best results, and a meticulous inspection will let you know about any major problems that need attention.

Central cooling and heating units play an important role in maintaining a comfortable temperature. To make these systems work flawlessly the whole year round, it is important to take good care of them. Clean and change the components regularly. Also, in case of a fault, call up a professional to handle the problem. It is advisable not to attempt repairs of your HVAC system on your own.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

What Does Your Air Conditioner Expect From You?

If you are someone who cannot imagine spending time indoors without the air conditioner, you need to look after your cooling system, just as you would take care of your pet.

The air conditioning system is a unit that has some expectations from you. If you want it to work well, work with efficiency and keep you comfortable, you need to do a few things to keep it in good shape.

Periodic Professional Maintenance: When you get your system installed for the first time, you can speak to your technician to undertake periodic maintenance and cleaning. A routine cleaning and maintenance once in every quarter is recommended. However, if you would rather not do so every quarter, an annual maintenance is a must. The checks conducted by the technician must include adjusting or replacing fan belts; inspecting coils and cleaning them; checking blowers and fans for any repairs and cleaning them; lubricating the bearings and motors; refrigerant and pressures and checking if they are right; inspecting all controls; and verifying operating temperatures. This will help to detect repairs early and save you a lot of trouble by preventing a complete shutdown.

Clean Dirty Filters: The filter needs the most attention. It is fixed in the front portion of the system thus exposed to air coming in and going out. Cleaning the filters every month will ensure that there are no clogs. Clogged filters can seriously affect your air conditioner’s working efficiency. Either clean it every month, if it is the washable type or replace it every month if it is not a washable filter. Keep checks on the filter’s MREV which should range from 1-12 for units at home. The AC’s performance will be better if the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is high.

Program the Cooling: If your preference is to keep the air conditioner at low temperature, go ahead and do so - but only when you are at home. When you are away at work, there is no need to have the air conditioning on. But if you prefer to keep it on, program it in such a way that it is set at a higher temperature if you are away and lower when you are in. A programmable thermostat will help you do so. The recent models have built in timers which will help you set the required temperature for the period when you in and also for when your away.

Clean the Ducts:If theducts, through which the air moves, are dirty, it will affect the efficiency of the unit. Dirty ducts can be responsible for upto 30% loss of the airflow, especially in window air conditioners. Ensure that the ducts are well sealed with foil tape. This will prevent air leaks. For window units, use stuffing foam or similar materials between the system and the window frame to keep it secure.

Ensure the SEER is right: The seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) and the energy-efficiency ratio (EER) are two measurements recommended by the federal law for air conditioning efficiency. The law makes it mandatory that the SEER for a central air conditioner be 13 and the EER for a window should be 8.

Draw Blinds, Run the Fan: Keeping the blinds drawn during the day will keep the indoors cooler and facilitate less work for the air conditioner. For optimum cooling efficiency, keep the ceiling fan running. This helps air circulation inside the room and less work for the air conditioning system too.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Know Your Air Conditioner

“Why should I know my air conditioner?”

“All I need is cool air inside my home and office and there is a machine that provides just that. Isn’t that enough?”

“I don’t need to know how the stuff works and what is inside it.”

“This knowledge is for the techies! After all they are always there when I need them.”

Do any of these lines sound familiar? Have any of these thoughts come to your mind? If you said yes to even one of them, you must read on.

Everyone likes a peaceful haven that a cool, dry house offers during summer. Like kids and pets, your air conditioner also needs a little love and care. For this, you need to know a little about your air conditioning system. Here are ten most important things you need to know about your air conditioner.
  • Basically, an air conditioner moves the heat from inside your home to the outside. It pulls out the hot air and brings in cool air.
  • There is an evaporator coil which is filled with a liquid known as the refrigerant. This refrigerant changes from liquid to gas in the process of absorbing heat from the air.
  • When you start the air conditioner, the refrigerant is pumped out of the house and into another coil. Here it releases its heat and changes back into its liquid form.
  • The coil that is outside is called the condenser as condensation (cooling of gas and changing into liquid) takes place here, just like moisture that forms on a cold window.
  • The energy for all this activity comes from a pump, the compressor. It provides the energy to move the refrigerant from one coil to the other and change the refrigerant pressure. This is how the refrigerant evaporates or condenses in the coils.
  • All air conditioning systems have a filter upstream of the evaporator coil. The work of this filter is to remove particles from the air stream. This keeps the air conditioner clean and the air indoors also clean.
  • The coils, also called ducts, need to be clog-free. Leakage of the duct can sap 20-40% of the energy from your air conditioner.
  • The thermostat displays the room temperature and a few other adjustments you can make to monitor indoor cooling comfort. A programmable thermostat is very useful as it saves energy. 
  • Your air conditioner needs to be maintained periodically. Filters need to be cleaned and the duct kept free of clogs. Depending on the usage, a service by a professional may be required.
  • Last, but not the least, ensure you have a voltage stabilizer if you live in a hot region. Places with tropical heat typically suffer from power fluctuations. A stabilizer adjusts the flow of energy thereby reducing or increasing it so that the compressor does not get affected.
These air conditioning maintenance tips will help you understand the working of your system. It is a good idea to clean the filters, brush the dirt and obstructions that get caked onto the coils and also clean the drains at the beginning of every warm season.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Air Filters Need Attention Too

Most homes in San Jose have air conditioning. For some, it may be a luxury, but for many, air conditioning is a necessity. These systems do not come cheap and need a lot of power to run. They need periodic maintenance for long life and performance efficiency as well. Every person who owns an air conditioner should have some knowledge about its parts and how they work.

The main parts of an air conditioner are the compressor, filter, condenser coil, evaporator coil, and the ducts. While you need professionals to look after most parts, it is the filter that is easy to maintain all by yourself.

Almost all air conditioning systems have a filter in front of the evaporator coil. The filter may be in the return grill or placed within special slots in the duct system. The job of the filter is to remove particles from the air stream so that the system remains clean and the air that flows out of the air conditioner is clean too.

When the system works, all parts, including the air filter are at play. As the filter does its job, more and more particles get loaded on it. When this happens, there is resistance caused and continuous resistance will reduce the airflow. So, what you can do here is:
  1. Clean the filter based on the manufacturer’s instructions, usually given in the user manual. 
  2. Replace the filter with a new one. 
Are there some questions that come to your mind now? Here are the answers to some common ones.

How do I clean the filter?

Most filters can be cleaned with plain soap and water. This is the best way to unclog the netted surface. Holding the filter under a jet of water will be most effective in cleaning all the pores so that they open up fully. Then, you just need to wipe them dry and fix them back.

How long does it take to clean a filter?

Not more than a few minutes. However, this depends on how dirty the filter is and how long since it was last cleaned. If the cleaning exercise is sufficient to open all the clogged pores, it is fine. On the other hand, if the filter is not fully clean, you may need to spend a few minutes on it with an old toothbrush.

What happens if I don’t want to clean the filter?

You need to replace your old filter with a new one. This is not the only thing that can happen. The air flowing out of the air conditioner will also get affected. If you don’t clean or change the filter, there will be obstruction in the air flow and lesser and lesser air flows out. This will bring down the performance of the air conditioning system. Additionally, a dirty filter becomes a source of air pollution.

Can I remove the filter completely?

If you decide to take the filter out completely, the low air flow problem will be solved. However, the particles will now start building on the evaporator coil, causing it to fail eventually. This repair cost will make a hole in your pocket. The particles that the filter would have taken out will now build up on your evaporator coil and eventually cause it to fail. It is better to get a new filter to replace the old one rather than let your machine run without a filter.

These points on filter maintenance can help you breathe pollution-free air as well as keep your air conditioner running smoothly and efficiently.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Advantages of a Modulating HVAC System

The HVAC industry is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to best serve the needs of people with an eye for comfort and luxury. One such product in the air conditioning environment is the modulated scroll system. Modulated scroll systems are revolutionary air conditioning units with the latest technology that offers the features and benefits quality-conscious consumers are seeking.

Variable-speed or modulated air conditioners ensure even room temperature. Gone are the times when you used to feel that your housing is old and freezing when the air conditioner is on, or too warm when the unit gets started. These air conditioners are less expensive as the energy consumed for operation varies.

Modulated air conditioning systems help to control the indoor humidity. It is not the temperature that makes people feel hot and sweaty, it is the humidity levels that are responsible for the sultry hot feeling indoors when the air conditioner is off. This humidity, when controlled better, makes the room more comfortable.

What is Modulation?

Modulation is a technology with which it is possible to modify the performance compressor according to the changes in ambient conditions. You can eliminate swings in temperature and also the RH levels of the house.

This means that the compressor capacity can be closely matched with the demand for cooling. A modulated compressor when fitted in an air conditioner operates at a reduced compression ratio, thus reducing the energy consumption.

Let's look at some of the advantages of a modulated air conditioning system.
    1. Lower energy consumption compared to standard fixed-speed compressors
    2. Comfort – individual set point control can be achieved.
    3. Higher system operational efficiency with total airflow.
    4. Lower maintenance costs compared to other systems. All that a modulating system needs is changing the filters and cleaning the coils
    5. Controls humidity. Lower humidity allows the homeowner to raise the thermostat temperature. This saves energy and at the same time you cannot really feel a difference in the air temperature.
    6. Track the load more closely, when compared with normal air conditioners, modulated air conditioning systems cycle on and off less frequently, thus increasing the amount of moisture taken out from the air.
    7. Longer lasting and less intense airflow. This keeps the room at a more precise temperature and allows for better comfort and control while sleeping as the on and off cycles are fewer than a fixed speed unit.
    8. Better in-home comfort and livability. These systems also provide tangible benefits as they help you sleep better, and in turn – live better.
    9. Energy savings is equal to more money in the pocket. A modulated system can save more than $870 per year by way of reduced energy cost.
    10. No more hot or cold spots, just even and comfortable cooling.
To sum up, when temperature and humidity control are just right, life becomes easy and homeowners are happy. While a normal, fixed speed HVAC system only runs at full speed, the modulating system can run with two or more speeds. This provides consistent air conditioning that is simply what every home requires.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Real Meaning of Expert Air Conditioning Services

There is nothing better than the cool comfort of your air conditioned home when the sun is blazing away outside. From your window, you can see the flowers wilting, soil caking up, and dry lines of heat spiraling upwards. You feel sad for the flowers, but thank your lucky stars for the cool comfort that you have indoors. And nothing, absolutely nothing can lure you out of your home when the angry sun is scorching outside.

Well, you may not feel so lucky if your air conditioner decides to take rest for some time!

If you are not in the habit of maintaining your cooling system, you are sure to experience this situation sooner or later. Periodic cleaning and maintenance is critical for your air condition system’s health. Problems occur when dirt, dust and debris accumulate. Plus the ducts may develop leaks or may get clogged due to long periods of use. These are typical problems that occur when periodic cleaning does not take place.

If you find it difficult to remember to get the periodic cleaning done, the best thing to do is to hire a professional to do the job. Tie up with a HVAC contractor in your neighborhood and you can rest assured that your air conditioner will not let you down.

Services Rendered by a Good HVAC Contractor

A good professional agency will have experienced technicians to deliver periodic maintenance services. Here is a list of services a good contractor will provide. He will,
  1. Evaluate the air conditioners, checking the size of the system, its layout and features
  2. Survey and report the services required
  3. Check  the duct system
  4. Inspect the insulation
  5. Check for air leaks and fix them
  6. Measure the air flow in the ducts
  7. Inspect the drains and the drain pipes
  8. Check and lubricate the moving parts
  9. Test the airflow and static pressure
  10. Inspect the system controls and the thermostat
  11. Educate homeowners on cleaning indoor coils and filters
  12. Provide alerts on any part that shows signs of weakening
  13. Educate on the benefits of programmable thermostats and appropriate models of air conditioning based on the size of the house
  14. Carry out the maintenance activities periodically and on time
These are expert air conditioner maintenance services that only a professional HVAC technician can offer. He will also guide you on the annual energy cost and the cost of a new operating system, if he sees the need to replace your existing system. In addition to these, you will also benefit from his experience when it comes to conserving energy and minimizing operation expenses.

Once you build a good relationship with him, customer satisfaction will take priority over service costs. So, here is your peace of mind! No more worries and stress about the periodic cleaning and maintenance of your air conditioner. Your contractor will look after it and the fee you will pay him will be worth every penny spent.

Go ahead and make the decision. Start looking for a good HVAC technician and you are sure to find one near you. Your friends could be of great help in your search, so move on and start your first towards that important peace.

Friday, 15 August 2014

HVAC Troubleshooting Tips for Homeowners

Not all HVAC problems need professional technicians to fix them. You can actually save a lot of money with some basic DIYs. All you need is to be willing to be ready to grease your hands a bit and keep your eyes and ears open. If you have potted around with the screw driver and wires before, you may just as well enjoy these little troubleshooting tips.

Here are three common problems that you may encounter and their suggested solutions.

The Air Conditioner does not Turn On

If your air conditioner does not start, the first thing you need to check is whether there is power supply to the unit. Many technicians have rushed on calls just to find that the power supply to the unit was turned off. If you find the switch off, you need to just put it on to start your system.
If your central air conditioning unit stops working on a hot day, there are chances that there has been a trip in the high-pressure limit switch. Resetting the tripped switch with a simple push of the button in the compressor's access panel can solve the problem.

Lastly, check the thermostat settings. They may be off and you may not know it!

The System does not Cool Enough

If you find that your air conditioner is losing its cooling capacity, it could mean that the system is undercharged. It would do a great deal of good to remember that your system’s efficiency and performance is greatest when the charge in the refrigerant matches with the manufacturer's specification. This means that the system will not be overcharged or under charged. Just pick up the manual that accompanied your system. The manufacturer’s instructions will explain how to keep the refrigerant properly charged.

If your system is taking longer to cool the indoors than before, it could mean that there is dirt built up on your air filter, evaporator coil , condenser coil, or in any other place within the unit.

First, you need to check the air filter to see if it is dirty. Simply cleaning the filter, or changing it, does the trick. This problem will not occur if you are in the habit of cleaning the filter every month. If this is not the case and if you have not had your system cleaned for a year, you need to call a professional to clean up your system.

The air conditioner often Turns Off and On

The first to check is if there is dirt build-up which is causing the unit to perform inefficiently. For this, a thorough cleaning by a professional is required.

However, another possibility would be a blockage in the air that flows to the condenser unit outside. Ensure that no shrubs or plants are large enough to hinder this flow. If they are, trim them out to avoid such problems in the future. If any of these tips don’t work, there may be a bigger problem. Now you will need to call the technician to fix it.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Renewable Energy Resources for HVAC

HVAC is an absolute necessity in almost every building in San Jose. Whether it is for heating, cooling, or ventilating, energy is required for the systems to do the job effectively, efficiently, and comfortably. But, there's not one system that will do the job for every facility.

Traditionally, electricity is generated from fossil fuels - coal, natural gas, and petroleum. As the demand for energy increases, the supply for it is decreasing and depleting rapidly all over the world. Plus, this energy is also responsible for the green house gases that have adverse effect on the environment and are the cause for the global warming that is melting glaciers and causing tsunamis.

All this has led to increased environmental awareness and the need to source energy for electricity from alternate sources and renewable sources such as wind, sun, biomass fossils. According to the reports, renewable energy is one of the most vital recently discovered resources. A report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), quotes, "Renewable energy resources—such as wind and solar energy are constantly replenished and will never run out."

Renewable Energy for HVAC

For HVAC/R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration), solar and geo-thermal energy is most suited for heating and cooling in the residential scenarios. While a majority of energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels, there is also tremendous growth in alternative and renewable energy technologies.

Solar Energy

A solar energy system produces electricity from the sun’s rays. This electricity is then used to power a building’s HVAC system. This system is made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. The solar modules in the system harvest the energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. This is how you can use solar energy to run your HVAC units, lights, other electrical devices.

Basically, there are two types of solar power systems. These are stand-alone and grid-connected systems. The stand-alone systems are designed in such as way that they operate independently and do not need an electric utility grid and supply certain DC or AC loads. In many such solar power systems, energy storage needs to be done through batteries.

The other type, the grid-connected power systems need an electric utility grid. These systems are designed in such a way that they are interconnected with the grid and operate parallel to the grid. These systems also use photovoltaic cells to generate energy from the sun’s rays and this energy is stored in a grid as AC power. The electricity from this grid is supplied into the building or the household.

Geothermal HVAC

Geothermal HVAC is said to bring a household or building in harmony with the earth beneath. It takes advantage of subterranean temperatures to generate heat in winter and cool air in summer.

The temperature at the bottom of the earth's crust is constant, typically over 1000°F. In some locations, the temperatures are so high and so close to the earth’s surface that they result in hot springs, geysers, and volcanic activity. Such places have high potential opportunity for geothermal electricity generation. Through geothermal plants, the steam is tapped and used to operate turbines which generate electricity.

A geothermal system typically consists of an indoor handling unit and a system of pipes that is buried in the earth. These pipes are called an earth loop and connected to a pump to reinjection well from where the steam is tapped. The constant temperatures provide the “free” energy.

In winter, the fluid that circulates through the system’s earth loop or well absorbs the heat stored and carries it indoors. The indoor unit then compresses this heat to a higher temperature and t releases it into the building, working as a heater. In summer, the geothermal system pulls out the heat from the building and transports it through the earth loop/pump to reinjection well. Here it deposits this heat into the cooler earth/aquifer. Geothermal systems do not need periodic maintenance. Once installed properly, the buried loop lasts for generations. However, filter changes and annual coil cleaning are required.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expecting that some states in the US will switch to natural gas for electricity generation, according to senior agency officials on a media briefing. There are attractive discounts also available for new constructions and upgradation projects.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Save Energy - Go Green

It is a known fact that HVAC units are the biggest energy hogs. A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute quotes, “Air conditioning accounts for nearly 50% of the energy use in the United States during peak summer months, and air conditioning is responsible for nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.”

The rising cost of energy, the residential and corporate boom has increased the energy requirements; it has also led to an increased awareness towards energy consumption and environmental issues. The government and environmentalists are pushing towards “green HVAC” systems. Building owners and contractors are being offered attractive incentive programs to build and maintain the construction and eco-friendly measures and substances.

If you are an existing owner or a tenant with an already installed and working HVAC system, you too contribute towards the going green revolution. You can adopt simple ways to reduce your energy consumption and your share of the carbon footprint.

Here are some ways you could make your existing HVAC system eco-friendly or ‘green’
    1. Keep the air filters clean and replace them every three months.
    2. Check out the duct work. Poor ducting can cause around 20% loss in the system efficiency.
    3. Install a programmable thermostat. Pre-programmed temperature settings for different times of the day can ensure zero energy wastage as energy will not be spent on cooling or heating an empty building. Reports say that adding a programmable thermostat help you save $180 in annual energy savings.
    4. If you are going for a new air conditioner, select an ENERGY STAR-certified HVAC system. These are based on efficient technology in comparison with traditional systems. They can help you save as much as 50% of your energy costs and are environmentally friendly too. There are attractive tax credit offers also available for such type of upgrades.
    5. In summer, consider investing in insulated, thermal-backed drapes. Install these drapes on your windows. They will help in keeping the indoors cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
    6. Consider installing an attic ventilator. Such a ventilator draws cool air upwards throughout the house. This type of air distribution can provide the same level of comfort as an air conditioner. The energy consumed is much lower than an air conditioner. Attic ventilation can also help reduce your winter heating bills too.
    7. Set the temperature on your thermostat at 77 degrees Fahrenheit on your air conditioner. For each degree set below 75 degrees, you use three to five percent more energy. For most comfort, set your thermostat to 77 degrees.
    8. Ceiling fans consume lesser electricity than furnaces or air conditioners. You can keep the temperature settings at 77 degrees and use the ceiling fan for air circulation. This will result in at least 30% savings in energy costs.  
    9. Consider upgrading your roof to a reflective one. A reflective roof prevents the heat from the sun’s rays from transferring inside the home or building. It can reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
    10. Ensure that your heating vents are not blocked by the furniture or the drapes in the room. Make sure that the dampers are open. Make a habit of vacuuming out dust and pet hair from the warm air registers and cold air returns. This will make the HVAC systems run more efficiently.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Air Balancing Keeps HVAC Systems Running Smoothly

To achieve optimal operation of air conditioning and heating systems, three major steps play a key role. They are Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (TAB). Here, we will focus on "air balance." Air balance is a process by which the performance of a simple or complex HVAC system can be measured. It is an important part, but often overlooked, in ensuring that the building or living area is optimized for both efficiency and personal comfort.

Why is Air Balancing Important?
  • If air is not properly balanced, many problems arise. One such problem is condensation. The indoors can have drafts and cold spots, making the air unpleasant.
  • Improper air balance will also cost money as it applies extra stress on heating and cooling equipment. There are risks of your HVAC system getting damaged along with health and safety concerns as well.
  • When air is not correctly balanced, energy is wasted and contaminants are allowed to enter the room, as condensation takes place.
  • This can result in food and health safety issues as the residents are prone to inhale carbon dioxide

The Concept of Air Balancing

We all understand that air always tries and equalizes pressure. If we bring inside the same amount of air that we expel, there will be neutral air balance. If we bring in more air than the amount we expel, there is positive air balance. On the other hand, if we expel more air than we bring in, there is negative air balance.

Negative air balance is common in old buildings and buildings that have been extended or re-purposed. In such cases, the air is being drawn in from even the smallest gaps, not only from open doors and windows. The air that flows inside is untreated and has a different temperature compared to the air within. This causes problems in the HVAC efficiency, and the condensation prepares a breeding ground for contaminants.

Key Benefits

There is no doubt that when the HVAC system is under additional stress, there is more energy consumed. When the air indoors is not balanced, the air conditioner needs to work harder to keep this temperature. There is a spike in your energy costs. Improper balance can damage the HVAC system and the condensation that forms may prove to be costly. Here are some key advantages of air balancing,
  • Prolonged equipment life
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Comfortable environment
  • Improved air quality indoors creates a healthy environment

Types of Air Balance

Basically, there are two types of air balance: Comfort balance and AABC Certified Air Balance.

"Comfort balance" is simply checking to see whether the indoors feel comfortably conditioned.  The purpose of AABC Certified Air Balance is to ensure that all components of the system work in harmony, and at optimum performance, to provide total occupant comfort.

Now, it is your choice to pick the type of air balance you would like in your home. It is better to hire a good air balance company with skillful technicians to conduct an air balance inspection. The results will help you decide on the necessity of making the required corrections.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Get the Most Out of Your HVAC in Summer

Summer is the time when we need air conditioning the most. The sunny days, the heat and sweat that come with summer make us hurry indoors, into the cool comfort of our homes and offices. As the need for the air conditioned coolness is an important necessity for us, so is the fact that we ensure that tour HVAC systems w ill run smoothly, without any problems.

The air conditioner falling sick in summer is the worst thing that can happen to us. The very thought can cause stress. However, just as air conditioning systems cater to our comfort needs, we too need to look after the requirements of our HVAC systems.

Here are some tips that can ensure the smooth functioning of your air conditioners in summer.
    1. Test Run
    2. In all likelihood, the air conditioner was sleeping cozily while you were using the heating system. Before summer really sets in, you can test run your air conditioner and check if the cooling is as required. Engage a HVAC technician who will check the system and predict any dangers that may be lurking. And technicians are easier to get during the off-peak season, and their charges will be reasonable too.

    3. Maintenance
    4. Regular maintenance is very important for a smooth, long and efficient life of your air conditioner. The first thing you need to make sure is that you check the filter regularly. In summer, the air conditioner is used almost full time. This is the reason enough to clean the filter regularly, once is a fortnight would be ideal, but once in three weeks is a must. Clean the evaporator coils every year and straightening any bent that there may be. Better still, draw up a contract with a HVAC company that will send across a professional for a periodic check and cleaning.

    5. Use a Programmable Thermostat
    6. It is not always that you need use the air conditioner at the same temperature. For example, you may like the comfort of say 70 degrees. But it is not necessary that your air conditioner works to maintain the same temperature throughout. When you are not at home, you sold set the temperature at a higher temperature, which will translate into reduction in the pressure of the compressor as well as lesser energy bills.  Get a programmable thermostat to reduce the cooling when you are away or set the thermostat in the sleep mode. Efficient use of this handy device can save almost $200 annually.

    7. Get a New System
    8. If your air conditioner is over ten years old, it is time you replace it with a new one. An old system has a large appetite when it comes to energy consumption. They are also prone to chills and ills, thus unpredictable. Repairs can create a hole in your pocket.

    9. Prevent Leakage
    10. Check to see if there are any leaks in your home, or in the rooms where you have the air conditioning. This will prevent leakage of precious cool air. Try sealing your ducts with insulation. Sealing and insulation need effort but it is worthwhile in energy efficiency, regardless of the season.

These tips will help you choose effective ways of reducing energy bills. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Save Energy without Compromising Comfort

Did you know that the performance of other building systems also (to a considerable extent) make demands on an HVAC system?

For example, during sunny days in San Jose, the topmost floor needs more energy to keep cool than the floor below.

It is most likely that a one-story building with a conventional black roof in Texas will cost considerably more to cool when compared to one with a reflective roof. However, if the same structure is in Minnesota and does not have adequate roof insulation, it will cost more to heat in the winter.

But, the roof is not the only part that affects the HVAC loads. Solar heat increase through windows, heat load from lighting systems, and air infiltration also have effects on HVAC loads. This holds true for various equipment as well; the range varies from computers to coffee makers.

In view of the mentioned facts, it makes perfect business sense to reduce energy. While, it costs nothing, it saves money, improves corporate reputation and enables you to do your part in the fight against climate change.

What does reducing energy mean?

A typical human tendency would be to state the following: I like to have my creature comforts such as air conditioning during summer and heating during winter. Reducing energy means compromising on these comforts. No way! I am fine as I am!

Well this is what we have to say.

This is no need to compromise with your comforts and luxuries while reducing energy consumption. All it takes is a little awareness and presence of mind.

We have for you some energy saving opportunities and knickknacks that will help you cut costs, increase profit margins, and save the Earth as well. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning can account for the majority of money spent on energy by a household or an organization. Even small adjustments can significantly improve the environment and also save money.
  • Ensure workspaces and main areas of your home are shielded from draughts and direct sunlight
  • Switch off equipment like mixers, computers, and washing machines or copier machines from the power connection.
  • Dim or switch off lighting if you have sufficient daylight filtering into the area
  • Ensure all controls are well-set. Time controls need to be monitored regularly
  • Motivate family members and staff, encouraging them to review their practices and suggest ways to increase awareness towards energy consumption.
  • Awareness on the potential waste in workplaces is important for reducing energy consumption.
Depending on the area required for cooling, the size and functions of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems vary. Some are large and some small. It would be good to analyze if the functions of these systems could be separated. For this, interaction of their services with each other needs to be scrutinized. For example, it is a sheer waste to increase the heating inside a building while the cooling device is trying to reduce the temperatures. A thorough look at how the elements of an HVAC system interact and fine tuning each part can save energy and money.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

How to Reduce Energy Needs

We all love to have our creature comforts when we need them. The air conditioning during summer and the heater during winter! We rarely ever give a thought to the energy we use in using these systems. Nor do we spare one for the carbon footprint created due to the use of these systems. 

The world is now becoming more and more aware of the carbon emissions that cause carbon footprint, whose one of the results is global warming. There is a definite need to look for alternate forms of energy as the world’s energy reserves are being eaten up at an alarming pace.

“Experts at the Risø International Energy Conference in Denmark advocate using "off-the-shelf" technologies to create a sustainable global energy system. As long as the solutions can respond to fluctuations in energy consumption, intelligent energy systems are within reach. The most accessible improvements may be heating and cooling systems, suggests the International Energy Agency (IEA).”

Where do we stand? What is it that we can do to reduce our contribution of the carbon footprint?

We need to serious give a thought to the amount of energy we consume.
  • The age of the appliances we use at home, especially or HVAC systems
  • The direction our house or apartment is in
  • The technology available in our HVAC systems
  • The "off-the-shelf" technologies that can create a sustainable global energy system
  • A serious effort to reduce energy consumption
These points need not lead to you compromising on your comforts. You can actually reduce your energy consumption without depriving yourself and your families of the comforts you and they are used to.

All it takes is a little awareness, a sincere effort, and little discipline!

These tips can help you to reduce your energy consumption to a great extent.
  1. Passive heating, ventilation and cooling: This refers to controlling of heat from the sun along with ventilation to create benefit and avoid discomfort.
  2. Maximizing inflow of natural, fresh air into the house will reduce energy spent on artificial airflow techniques.
  3. Using ‘artificial’ and mechanical systems to fine tune the air indoors to the desired temperature, rather than creating the airflow.
  4. Ensuring cross ventilation: this means having openings such as large windows preferably on opposite sides of the room. This will enable air to flow in and out easily.
  5. Making the most out of the natural ventilation and light. This means you should try and use as much as natural sunlight to light up the room during the day, rather than using artificial lights.
  6. Installing daylight blinds to enable natural light to enter the space is a good way to reduce energy consumption.
  7. Using perforated blinds to use view the outside world.
  8. Using solar heater to heat water for domestic use
  9. These tips will not only help in reducing energy consumption, but also keep your pockets happy and you smiling!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sleep Well with a Healthy Room Temperature

If you are lacking good sleep, then the temperature of your room needs a little attention! Your bedroom may be either too warm or too cold. Either way, the temperature can affect your sleep.

Medical experts agree that the room temperature is an important factor that influences sleep. According to H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down. Think of it as the internal thermostat. That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep.”

The next thing that comes to your mind is the question:

What is the best bedroom temperature for getting a great night’s sleep? 

Well, it is difficult to recommend a specific range.

You might be surprised to learn that to sleep better, it does not matter how you prefer the temperature to be. A cooler room is likely to give you better sleep and certainly improves the quality of your sleep.

Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University says that if your bedroom is warm, and is likely to get uncomfortably hot later in the night, you are more likely to wake up from sleep during the night, and going back to sleep will be difficult.

When a person goes to sleep, the set point for the body temperature and the temperature brain strives to achieve dips. Thus, if it is too cold or too hot in the room, there is a struggle within the body to achieve this set point.

Researchers and medical personnel feel that the key to good sleep is to match the room temperature with the lowered temperature of the body. This is a theory well supported by doctors and psychologists as well.

In addition to the right temperature, there are other strategies too, for creating ideal sleeping conditions.
  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that your bedroom should resemble a cave. Experts from the academy say that the bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Observe the bats. They follow this logic and can sleep well. They are sometimes called champion sleepers because of their ability to sleep for as long as 16 hours a day.
  • Avoid the soft and smooth foam pillows. They feel real good as they conform closely to the shape of the body, but they can make you feel hot too.
  • Try wearing socks on your feet while sleeping. The toes are most vulnerable to cold. There is nothing better than cold feet to disrupt the sleep.
  • Work out a mutual understanding regarding the temperature with your bedmate. The recommended range is between 65° and 72° Fahrenheit. However, higher and lower can be individual preferences. The idea is to get improved quality of sleep.
Research also says that for normal sleepers, a drop in the core temperature of the body increases the temperature in the feet and the hands. This happens because the body radiates heat and blood vessels dilate.

However, for troubled sleepers, studies show that a cool room and feet placed on a hot-water bottle, rapidly dilates the blood vessels, and helps in adjusting the internal thermostat to set a better temperature.

Friday, 18 April 2014

How Air Quality Contributes to Employee Productivity

We all know that homes and offices need to have ample ventilation. With the boom in corporate style offices since a couple of decades, it has become inevitable for all offices to be multistoried complexes with centralized air conditioning. This has given rise to concerns of indoor air quality.

What is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of the air inside your home or office. Closed air conditioned offices do not always have enough ventilation to keep away air pollutants. This can make the indoors unhygienic and affect the health of the employees.

There are three strategies normally used to improve indoor air quality. They are:
  • ventilation,
  • reduction of indoor pollution sources and
  • cleaning
Ventilation eradicates air pollutants that originate inside the building. These pollutants include bio-effluents. Studies have found that the outdoor air supply rate provides subjectively acceptable indoor air quality. Preventing the accumulation of moisture in the building is usually sufficient to maintain the pollutant concentration at healthily low levels. Periodic cleaning such as vacuuming is essential as well.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Productivity

People who work in offices spend over 90% their time indoors. This holds true for people who live in apartments too. Increasingly, people are found indoors at malls, shopping centers, or in vehicles. Studies on realistic experimental exposures have shown that common indoor sources of air pollution are floor-coverings, air filters of the centralized air conditioners, personal desktops, mold growth from damp or wet porous areas such as carpeting, ceiling panels etc.., and much more.

Exposure to these indoor air pollutants can be short-term; but these short-term effects were demonstrated repeatedly in a study to employees. These employees developed subclinical SBS symptoms such as headache. Temperature and noise distraction were also studied and it has been found that the performance of real office work, measured over a period of time over time, will be would be significantly affected by the indoor environmental quality.

How can we Reduce Indoor Air Pollution?

A number of national organizations, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Lung Association, and the Environmental Protection Agency, have studied and stated that air pollution in our indoor settings, could be more of a health concern when compared with the air pollution outside.

Here are some actions that employers or the management of a company can take to reduce ‘employee exposure’ to pollution inside the office:
  • Reduce the source of the pollutants: Using products or methods that do not release or stir up high amounts of particulates or volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Choose products that are less toxic, when you have a choice. The Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS will help you in determining the product with reduced health hazard.
  • Take care in storing chemicals properly. The storage area should not be occupied by people. Ensure that there is a vent that opens directly to the outside of the building.
  • Control exposures at the source. It is better to refrain your indoors from getting polluted, rather than trying to do rigorous cleaning later. Install that mechanical exhaust vent directly over a place that is frequently used, such as a copier machine.
  • Periodic examination and/or replacement of filters in the air conditioners and vents is a must.
  • Prepare a maintenance schedule for the office equipment and stick to it.
  • Increase the ventilation (fresh air) inside the office. Ensure that your air handling system Is well designed and functions smoothly.  Merely opening windows can also help a great deal.
  • Filter the air that blows out from the vacuum cleaners, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners, before it is inhaled.
  • Stop or reduce pollutant pathways and prevent them into the office. Physically separate the areas of occupancy and the areas where high levels of pollutants can be generated.
  • Reduce the use of carpeting. This is a breeding ground for most biological pollutants like mold, dust mites, and bacteria.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fix your Noisy Air Conditioners

Have you ever heard your air conditioner making peculiar sounds? If the answer is yes, then it is time for a little update on some important facts about your air conditioner.

You should start with observing the kind of sound that your air conditioner makes. Here are some types of sounds that air conditioners can make: clicking, tweeting, chirping, rattling, squealing, humming and grinding.

Are you surprised? Well, you ought to be! Especially, if your air conditioner is making any of these sounds.

So what is that you need to do if your air conditioner makes noises?
Noises that come from the air conditioner can be indications that there is something seriously wrong inside.

Clicking and ticking sounds: If the air conditioner makes noise similar to clicking or ticking, it might indicate that some part within is not working fine. One possibility of repetitive clicking could be a problem in the system’s relay function. In such an instance, you need to call the electrician for help. Clicking or ticking sounds in the system normally relate to problems in the electrical portions. It is best mended by an electrician.

Rattling and Squealing Sounds: If your air conditioner is making sounds that resemble rattling or squealing, it could mean that there is something wrong with the outdoor fan. On the other hand, this type of sound could also mean that there is a foreign particle inside, such as a twig or a branch, leaf, or stick. These may have fallen on the outdoor unit of the air conditioner and can be the cause of these noises. Debris such as toys, rocks or mulch can also get caught inside the system and cause the noise. It is best to call a technician to repair the fault. Their training and tools will help them detect the area of fault and rectify it immediately.

Tweeting or Chirping Noises: If you hear sounds from your air conditioner that resemble the chirping of birds, especially when the system is switched on after a long break, you need not worry. This type of noise is common at the beginning of a season. Since the unit been shut for a long time, and it indicates that the machine needs a bit of warming up. Of course, all the gadgets need to start working again after a long rest. However, if the sound continues persistently, and shows no sign of reducing, it is of concern.  In such a case, it is best to seek professional help.

Grinding or Humming Noises: If you hear your system humming, there is every possibility that it needs lubrication. It is not uncommon for the motor in the AC unit to make a humming noise. This is no great threat to the air conditioner. Yours could be one of those units that come with unsealed motors. Such systems need to be lubricated at regular intervals. The lubrication can be in the form of SAE 10 oil that needs to be placed in the oil ports. It is a good habit to oil the air conditioner motor at the beginning of each summer.

There can be other noises from the air conditioner. A central air conditioner can be noisy when there is a problem in the condenser. There are several ways to solve these, but it is best to call a technician to look into the problem. However, if your unit is very old, it you can replace it with a new one. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Use your Air Conditioner Wisely

Did you know wise usage of air conditioners saves lots of your money? As technology advances, newer models of air conditioners are available in the market. These days, room air conditioners deliver significantly more efficiency than the models designed a decade ago. So when you replace your old air conditioner with a new one, you are actually saving a lot on your utility bills.

So how can I use my air conditioner wisely?
  1. Take a tour of your house. Understand the ventilation system of your home. Take a close look at those windows that are normally kept closed. You will now come to know if you really need an air conditioner.
  2. If you still need a room air conditioner, choose either a wall-mounted or a window mounted model. While wall-mounted units will cost you more, there are chances that the leaks will be on the outside and no hassles inside. On the other hand, a window air conditioner will block that lovely view as well as the light from your window. Here is a time you will need to consider the options carefully and prioritize.
  3. Get the right size. It is important that the unit you purchase is of the right size or else the cooling will be compromised. An undersized air conditioner does not effectively handle the heat. The unit will need to overwork and lead wear and tear. The system will not perform optimally nor deliver on its full energy performance promise.
  4. SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is an important parameter for all new cooling systems. The higher the SEER, the more will be the energy efficiency. However, units with higher SEER ratings can be more expensive, but their efficiency repays that extra cost many times over during their lifespan.
  5. Look for an ENERGY STAR® models. Air conditioners that are ENERGY STAR model, means that they have an ENERGY STAR rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. This certification spells high performance and efficiency.
  6. Use the ceiling fan on when the air conditioner is in use. Set the temperature not too low. This will bring down the energy consumption and also deliver efficiency and long life.  
  7. Set the thermostat settings at ‘fan only’ at night. This will ventilate your house at night and will be huge savings over air conditioning.
  8. Humid climates need models that are effective at removing moisture from the air. These air conditioners come with a variable-speed or multi-speed blowers. You can run the unit at low speed. This will no doubt reduce the cooling efficiency somewhat but will do a good job in dehumidifying the home. It makes sense to lower speed when the day is very humid.
  9. You can also adjust the variable-speed blower, which is controlled by a humidistat. This means that your unit can automatically change the fan speed to higher or lower depending on the humidity levels in the room.
  10. A well-maintained and clean air conditioner always delivers efficiency. Periodic cleaning of the filter and the ducts ensure smooth performance and optimum cooling comfort.  A well oiled system does not have to work very hard to deliver efficiency. This, in turn, results is lesser wear and tear, and extended unit life. Schedule an inspection by a professional technician at least once a year. This will ensure that your cooling system is working safely and efficiently.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Get Professional Help or DIY

Cleaning the air conditioner or heating system twice a year is a must. You can do the cleaning yourself or you can hire the services of a professional contractor who is specialized in HVAC cleaning and repair

The central air conditioning system of your house needs cleaning at least once in every six months. Here are a few things that you need to check every time it is time to clean the air conditioning system.

In winter, make sure you cover the outdoor unit of your air conditioner with plywood. This will prevent ice from falling on it or creating any other damage.

Make sure you do not wrap the unit with plastic. Do not even use any other material that will completely block the airflow. If you do so, moisture will get trapped inside and result in corrosion.

Turn the power off and feel the pipes. See if they are warm and cool.

Turn the power on and get the thermostat going so that the outdoor unit starts working. Listen to sound and pay careful attention to pick up any odd noises that may be an indication of a prospective damage.

Let the unit run for 10 minutes. Then pull back the insulation on the insulated tube. This tube or pipe should be cool, about 60 degrees. The other pipe connected to the unit should be warm, at skin temperature. If either are not so, there is something wrong and only professional help can prove helpful in checking the refrigerant level.

Next comes your compressor. Surprisingly, the compressor can be termed as the most fragile component of your air conditioner. Do not start your outdoor unit immediately, if you have just cleaned it when the power to your compressor has been off for more than four hours.

Let the outdoor unit have the power on for 24 hours before you switch the unit on. Remember to start the thermostat on its cooling mode and set the temperature before you turn the outdoor unit on.

Treat the compressor with care. Never start the air conditioner before five minutes since it has been switched off. The compressor needs time to ‘decompress’ before it can start again. If the compressor is started sooner, the motor gets stressed and this will affect the working life and efficiency of the compressor.

The furnace filter needs to be changed if it is dirty. The filter needs to be dust-free, only then the evaporator coil fins will clean. Before you pull out the filter, turn off the power that is supplied to the furnace, if not the dust within will not only blow throughout the system, but also on your face. Clean the filter or replace it with a new one, depending on how clogged it is.

Vacuum the bottom side of the fins of the evaporator coil. You can use a soft brush attachment for doing this. If you would rather not do the cleaning, hire a professional to do so. You will not need to clean the evaporator coil if the air that flows in is clean.

The plenum houses the evaporator coil, which dehumidifies the air indoors as cools it. Condensation takes place and the water that condenses on the coil comes out through the condensation tube. Ensure that this tube is not clogged. There may be sludge and algae inside the tube or at the drain port. Having a flexible tube will be easy to pull off and clean.

Apply five drops of special oil for electric motors if the fan motor has lubrication ports.