Energy Efficient HVAC? It’s More Than Just A Box

Is your home energy efficient?

Sure, you’ve got the energy efficient appliances. You’ve got the energy efficient light bulbs. You’ve even got green ethernet for crying out loud. But what about the single largest energy-user in the house? Your HVAC system.

Even with the very best home construction and design — and even that fancy schmancy refrigerator — if a qualified HVAC contractor hasn’t been consulted with regard to the efficiency of your unit relative to the uniqueness of your home, you’re probably spinning your wheels… and your electricity meter.

So, how’d this happen? How’d we get to a place where windows and washing machines are more highly scrutinized than your home’s air conditioner?

The short story is this: The pioneers of energy efficiency came primarily from government-funded weatherization programs around four decades ago. Others began with solar water heaters — a result of the … Continue reading

What Is The Recommended Humidity For My Home?

When it comes to indoor humidity levels, everyone has their own preference for what feels most comfortable. Generally, a relative humidity level from 35-50 percent is optimal for comfort — not to mention preventing the growth of microorganisms.

Ideal Indoor Relative Humidity Levels by Outdoor Temperature

Depending on personal preferences, the most comfortable indoor humidity level will vary from one household to the next. The following temperatures will give you a general idea of where to keep your indoor relative humidity levels:

• For outdoor temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 50 percent.

• For outdoor temperatures over 20 degrees, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 40 percent.

• For outdoor temperatures between 10-20 degrees, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 35 percent.

• For outdoor temperatures between 0-10 degrees, indoor humidity levels shouldn’t exceed 30 percent.

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3 Reasons to Consider Buying a New Air Conditioner in the Fall

With temperatures dropping, your air conditioner is likely the last thing on your mind. What many homeowners don’t know is that fall is an ideal time to purchase a new air conditioning system. Below are a few advantages to buying a new air conditioner now instead of waiting until next cooling season, along with tips for protecting your unit at winter approaches.

Avoid installation delays.

The average lifespan for an air conditioning system is approximately 15 years, although it can vary based on usage, maintenance, and environmental factors. If your current air conditioner is nearing or past this mark, you should probably expect to replace your unit in the next few years, if not sooner. Purchasing a new system now instead of waiting will prepare you for next cooling season, and set you up for lower cooling bills.

When you buy an air conditioner in the summer months, you may … Continue reading

When Should You Schedule a Preseason?

The concept of a “preseason” can be misleading.

Preseasons are, more often than not, a ploy by the air-conditioning industry utilized as a means for giving their technicians something to do during the slow periods during the year. And, while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to get ahead of the game — especially at a discount — the outdoor temperatures prior to the season may be outside the parameters needed to accurately check the refrigerant charge in your air-conditioner.

If it’s too cool outside and there is no load “cool inside” your house, the saturation temperature may be too low and the load on the equipment too low to accurately check your refrigerant charge. If the system doesn’t have a history of refrigerant leaks, then a glance may be adequate and you may also be able to include a furnace/heat pump maintenance thanks to the mild … Continue reading

How to Keep Cooling Costs Down During the Summer

Keeping cooling costs manageable during the dog days of summer can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to keep your checking account from feeling the heat.

Change the filter often.

Very few duct systems are air tight. The increased resistance caused by a dirty filter can make your air-conditioner pull in more air through any cracks and crevices in the return air duct system. If your return is in the attic, that means it’s pulling in extremely hot air.

Keep your condenser coil clean.

The condenser coil outside is where your air-conditioner gets rid of the heat it absorbed inside of the home. Having your unit washed regularly increases the efficiency of your air-conditioner. Also, keep shrubs, grass and leaves away from the outdoor unit.

Reroute your dryer vent.

You can’t fix stupid—but you can reroute it. If your dryer vent is close to or blowing … Continue reading

HVAC Maintenance Tip: Keep Equipment Clear

By Will Housh,

When it comes to HVAC maintenance, how you maintain the areas surrounding your equipment can be just as important as the maintenance of the actual systems. Poor maintenance in the immediate areas surrounding your air conditioner or furnace could decrease system efficiency, damage components, and even put your family in danger. Follow these HVAC maintenance tips to protect your heating and cooling equipment.

  • Keep the exterior condenser unit or heat pump clear of items. You should leave a clearance of at least two feet surrounding the unit. This will facilitate proper airflow, and allow access to the unit should repairs be required. Never install an enclosure directly against the unit. Outdoor items should never be stored surrounding the unit.
  • Local building codes require gas furnaces and other gas appliances maintain a clearance from the floor and surrounding walls. Space should be left for many … Continue reading

Why Has the Cost of R-22 Increased?

R22 Freon

If “R22” just sounds vaguely like a smallish robot from Star Wars, don’t worry—you’re in the vast majority. The U.S. government-enforced restrictions—and the ultimate phase out—of R22 Freon probably isn’t on your radar, but it has been on ours for years.

The impact for you, the consumer, has been—and will continue to be—felt when you get the bill for an air-conditioning system recharge. A once small fee has skyrocketed as production of R22 continues to drop.

In fact, only 13 million pounds will be produced in 2017, followed by 9 million pounds next year and 4 million pounds in 2019. Finally, beginning in 2020, only reclaimed or recycled R22 refrigerant will be available to service existing systems.

But, why? What’s the deal?

The deal is that the government hopes to replace R22 with a safer material—one that goes easier on the ozone layer. That’s an initiative we can all get … Continue reading

Air Conditioning in Northwest Arkansas

Life in Northwest Arkansas was very different before air conditioning. In fact, without air conditioning, we wouldn’t have all those “Best Town in America” awards we’ve received.

Before air conditioning, towns like Fayetteville, Springdale, and Rogers had no chance of competing successfully for national businesses. Just like the airports, roads, and educational institutions that made prosperity possible for Northwest Arkansas, air conditioning was a necessity for getting a seat at the national and international table.

Early residents of Northwest Arkansas relied on design features to keep their homes relatively cool. Dogtrot houses, high ceilings, and sleeping porches helped families make it through the summer by taking advantage of the breezes. Factories? There were canneries in Northwest Arkansas in the early 20th century, but actual industrialization was just not practical. The heat inside a factory in an Arkansas summer made it impossible to run machinery. Even if the workers could tolerate … Continue reading

The Low Bid Will Cost You More

Are you tempted to choose the low bid for your HVAC project?​​

Consider this: If the electrical in your home or business goes to the low bidder, you may have fewer outlets and the cord for your vacuum may not reach this room or that corner. Maybe your light fixtures are junk and changing a light bulb becomes a pain.

If your plumbing goes to the low bidder, you may need an extra water hose to reach the tree you just planted. Your tub or your sink may drain a little slower than you’d like and you may be replacing fixtures before you thought you should.

But, if your heating and air-conditioning goes to the low bidder? Your system may not be installed correctly, sized correctly, or charged correctly. Your duct system may be a mess and your indoor blower may not be set to match the duct system and … Continue reading