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Does Rain Affect My Air Conditioning Unit?

air conditioner in rainIn Southwest Florida, heavy rains are common, especially as tropical storms or hurricanes approach. If you have ever wondered “Does rain affect my air conditioning unit,” the short answer is “No.” In most cases, rain is safe for your system, though there are some exceptions, and a few precautions to take during strong storms.

The Effects of Rain

The outside portion of a central air conditioning system, known as the outdoor unit or condenser unit, houses both the condenser and the compressor, as well as a system fan, electrical connections and other accessories. Most of the components are made from aluminum, copper, plastics and other materials that are not prone to corrosion or damage from moisture, and the electrical connections are sealed, allowing the system to run properly even in heavy rain.

Only during heavy flooding, when the condenser is partially or completely submerged, should you shut the system off, which can be done using the breakers in your main electrical panel. If the system is submerged for a significant period of time, have it inspected by an HVAC professional before tuning it back on.

Should the Condenser be Covered?

In most cases, the condenser unit should never be covered. Rain cannot harm the condenser, as long as the moisture can evaporate freely, and neither can the cooler weather of a Florida winter. In colder climates, some people cover the condenser during the winter to prevent accumulations of snow, leaves and debris, but it is not necessary. In fact, it can actually cause damage by trapping condensation beneath the cover, leading to corrosion and other damage.

The only time that you should cover the condenser is during extremely strong storms, such as hurricanes, to prevent damage from wind-blown debris. For this purpose, something strong, like plywood, should be secured with the power off, and it should be removed immediately after the storm. Otherwise, simply keep the condenser free of debris, and rinse the dirt out periodically.

When you have questions like “Does rain affect my air conditioning unit,” contact our team at Conditioned Air for helpful answers and HVAC advice.

Is a Heat Pump Upgrade The Right Choice? Key Points To Consider

heat pumpHeat pumps are a great way to provide energy-efficient cooling in Southwest Florida, and many models can provide heating as well, for the rare chilly day. If you are thinking about replacing your current system with a newer, more energy-efficient model, there are a few things to consider prior to your heat pump upgrade.

The Condition of Your Current System

If your system is more than 15 years old, requires frequent repairs or has major problems like a failing compressor or blower motor, a heat pump upgrade may be well worth the cost, especially if it has a seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, of 12 or less. If your system is younger and in relatively good operating condition, it may be more cost-effective to wait for a few more years, until the operating and repair costs become excessive.

Heat Pump Efficiency Improvements

Many older heat pumps were rated at less than 12 or even 10 SEER. Today’s models are often rated at 14 to 16 SEER, and the most efficient models earn a rating of over 23 SEER. With energy-saving design improvements like variable-speed scroll compressors, two-speed or variable speed blower motors, and better coil designs, the latest heat pumps can reduce your cooling costs significantly.

New Comfort Technologiespgrade, talk to our team at Conditioned Air, serving the Naples, Ft. Myers and Sarasota areas since 1962.

How To Determine The Best A/C Equipment For Your Home

new air conditionerIf you are considering a new air conditioner for your Southwest Florida home, determining the best A/C equipment for your needs can be difficult. There are several types of systems, differences in cooling efficiency and a variety of features. Here are a few tips for determining the best A/C equipment for your home:

System Type

A conventional central air conditioner offers cooling only, with an outdoor condenser unit and an indoor air handler that delivers conditioned air though a system of ducts. A heat pump looks and operates similar to a central air conditioner, but it is reversible, allowing it to also provide heating. Ductless mini split systems feature an individual air handler for each room or zone, connected to an exterior condenser, and they are available with cooling only, or both cooling and heating. If you have ducts installed, either a central air conditioner or a heat pump would be a good choice. For homes without ducts or for a single room, a ductless system can be more cost-effective. If you require both heating and cooling, a heat pump or a ductless system would be the best choice.

Energy Efficiency

Air conditioners are classified by their SEER rating, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. A higher number means greater energy efficiency, with systems typically ranging from 14 SEER to over 20. By paying a bit more initially for an efficient system, you can earn that money back over its lifetime through reduced cooling costs. For systems that offer heating, look for an HSPF, or heating seasonal performance factor, of higher than 8 for the best energy efficiency.

Features

Optional features like multiple-speed compressors and blower motors provide more consistent cooling and quieter operation. Zoning systems enable the temperature in each zone to be controlled independently, allowing you to reduce cooling in unused rooms and save money. Wi-Fi thermostats allow for easy programming and increased energy savings. Select a system with the features that are best for your needs and your budget.

Just contact Conditioned Air for all your options.

 

Ductless Heating And Cooling: A Handy Reference

ductless heating and coolingIn a conventional HVAC system, as much as 30 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling is wasted, due to leaking or inadequately-insulated ductwork. A better alternative, especially for homes without an existing HVAC system, may be a ductless heating and cooling system. By placing the air handler directly in the room to be heated or cooled, and eliminating the air ducts, a ductless heating and cooling system can be far more efficient and easier to install. Before installing a ductless system, there are a few things to consider.

Installation Process

Ductless or mini split systems consist of an outdoor condenser and compressor unit, one or more interior air handlers that contain and air filter, evaporator and fan, plus a conduit that connects the two halves. The air handlers are available in a variety of styles, including floor-level, wall and ceiling-mounted models, and a conduit containing the refrigerant and electrical lines connects each air handler to the condenser through a small 3 to 4-inch opening in a wall or ceiling. Ductless systems require minimal remodeling to install, and are perfect for homes or additions that lack a complete cooling and heating system.

SEER and HSPF Ratings

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and represents the amount of electricity used for a cooling season. Ductless systems typically have a SEER from 16 to 20 or more, with higher ratings indicting greater efficiency. The HSPF, or heating seasonal performance factor, measures the electricity used for a heating season, with average systems receiving ratings of 7 to 8, and high-efficiency models receiving an 8 or above. By investing in a more efficient system, you will reduce your long-term utility costs.

Single or Multiple-Zone Systems

Some ductless heating and cooling systems serve one room or area only, while larger systems have an upgraded condenser and typically up to 5 air handlers to provide whole-home heating and cooling with independent temperature controls for each zone.

To learn more about ductless heating and cooling systems, talk to our team at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida, including the Sarasota and Ft. Myers areas.

How Can I Qualify For an Energy Tax Rebate?

energy tax credit

For many years, the federal Energy Star program has encouraged homeowners to reduce energy usage by offering tax credits for certain energy-efficient products, such as HVAC equipment and water heaters. Some products that qualify for the energy tax rebate include:

HVAC Equipment

  • Central air conditioning systems: A $300 credit is available for cooling systems that are featured on the Energy Star Most Efficient 2016 list, as well as certain models that feature a SEER of 16 or above for split systems or 14 or above for packaged systems. To determine if your system qualifies, visit the Energy Star website or contact the manufacturer.
  • Air source heat pumps: A $300 credit is available for Energy Star-certified models. Split systems must have an HSPF of greater than 8.5, an EER of over 12.5 and a SEER of over 15. Packaged systems must have an HSPF of over 8, an EER of over 12 and a SEER of over 14.
  • Furnaces: Gas, propane or oil furnaces that are Energy Star-certified with an AFUE of over 95 qualify for a $150 credit, and Energy Star-certified furnace fans that use less that 2 percent of the total energy for the furnace qualify for a $50 credit.
  • Boilers: Boilers on the Energy Star Most Efficient 2016 list with an AFUE of over 95 qualify for a $150 credit.

Geothermal Heat Pumps: A credit for up to 30% of the system’s purchase price is available for both new or existing homes.

Water Heaters

  • A $300 credit is available for Energy Star-certified electric water heaters, as well as certain Energy Star-certified natural gas models with an energy factor of over 0.82 and heat pump models with an energy factor of over 2.0.

To qualify for the energy tax rebate, these products must have been purchased by December 31, 2016 and installed in an existing home that is your primary residence. IRS form 5695 must be filed with your federal income taxes by April 18, 2017 to receive the energy tax rebate.

To learn more about the energy tax rebate for HVAC equipment, contact our team at Conditioned Air.

3 Benefits Of Home Service Agreements

service agreementOne of the best ways to protect the air conditioning system in your Florida home is with regular maintenance, which will help keep the system running efficiently and prevent premature failure. HVAC service agreements make keeping up with your system’s maintenance requirements simple and convenient, and they offer several benefits for Southwest Florida homeowners.

Automatic Service Reminders

When it is time to perform routine maintenance, like cleaning the coils, replacing the air filter and checking the refrigerant levels, your HVAC provider can send reminders that service is due, so that you can schedule an appointment for a convenient date and time. This makes it less likely that you will forget, and allows your provider to make sure your service is completed before the busier parts of the year, when it will be harder to schedule an appointment.

Reduced Cooling Costs

HVAC service agreements prevent common air conditioning problems like dirty air filters and coils, which can make it harder for the system to move air through the ducts and to remove heat from your home. With proper maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, your system will run more efficiently, reducing your cooling costs and helping the environment.

Avoiding Future Problems

With frequent service visits, your HVAC provider will become familiar with your system and will be able to spot minor problems, like airflow obstructions or refrigerant leaks, before they cause further damage to the system, or a complete system failure. Not only will this reduce your repair costs, but it will extend the life of your air conditioning system. Finally, if you do have a problem, because you have a maintenance agreement and an existing relationship, you will receive priority service and other valuable incentives.

To learn more about the many benefits of HVAC service agreements, or to learn which plans are available for your system, talk to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air today. We have been serving Southwest Florida, from Bradenton to Marco Island, since 1962.

3 Easy Ways to Keep a Lid on Energy Consumption

energy efficient appliance

Keeping utility costs under control in Southwest Florida can be a challenge, especially as peak air conditioning season arrives. By taking a few simple measures to control your energy consumption, however, you can reduce your utility bills, while helping the environment.

Have the Air Conditioning System Serviced

Routine maintenance, such as changing the air filter and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils, will help the air conditioning system to transfer heat and move air more efficiently. Not only does this reduce energy costs, but it also helps to extend the life of the system. Adding a programmable thermostat and setting it to raise the temperature 5 degrees anytime you are away from home can also lower your energy consumption significantly.

Reduce Heat Gain

Another way to reduce energy usage is by eliminating some of the extra heat produced in your home, making the job of the air conditioner easier. Use shades and blinds during the daytime to block the heat of the sun, and open the windows during cooler periods for natural ventilation and cooling. Avoid using heat-generating appliances like clothes dryers, dishwashers and ovens during the day, and wait until the evening when it is cooler to cook or bathe. When the air conditioning system is installed, place the outdoor unit in a shady location, if possible, or consider adding some shade.

Use Efficient Appliances

Choosing the right appliances and electronics can have a significant impact on your energy costs. When replacing older models, purchase the most efficient versions possible, such as those that are Energy Star-rated. Turn off appliances, lights and electronics when they are not in use, and consider using outlet strips to completely turn off devices that have a continuous power draw, such as televisions and cable boxes. Replace older incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient CFL or LED models, and turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, instead of the typical 140-degree factory setting.

For more tips to reduce energy consumption, talk to our HVAC professionals at Conditioned Air today. We have been serving the Southwest Florida area, from Bradenton to Marco Island, since 1962.

 

Choosing and Placing a CO Detector in Your Home

carbon monoxide detectorCarbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, invisible gas that can be produced by fuel-burning appliances that are not operating properly, like stoves, water heaters or furnaces, and extended exposure can cause flu-like symptoms or, if exposure continues, death. Carbon monoxide detectors are the only reliable way of determining that the gas has reached critical levels inside your home, and choosing the correct type to install and where to place them is relatively simple.

Choosing a Carbon Monoxide Detector

There are four basic types of carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Battery-Operated: Can be placed anywhere, but need frequent battery replacements
  • Plug-in: Can be installed anywhere that has an electrical outlet, and they often feature a battery for backup power.
  • Hard-wired: Connected permanently to the electrical system of a home, they typically have a battery backup.
  • Combination alarms: Combine a CO detector with a smoke detector, and often a fire detector.

In most cases, the best choices are plug-in or hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors with integrated battery backups. Alarms that rely solely on batteries are not as dependable, as the batteries may lose power, and combination alarms may detect multiple dangers, but they tend to be less sensitive and reliable than alarms designed for a single function. Regardless of the type, check the function of the detector monthly, using the “Test” feature, and replace the batteries at least twice a year.

Where to Install CO Detectors

Carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so many manufacturers recommend installing CO detectors high on the wall or on the ceiling. At least one detector should be installed on each level of your home, and one should be placed in or near each bedroom.

Keep each detector at least 15 feet away from sources of combustion to avoid false readings, and if your appliances are located in a basement, place one detector at the top of the stairs. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and operation carefully, and replace each detector at the manufacturer-recommended intervals.

For more information about installing carbon monoxide detectors, talk to our team at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida since 1962.

5 Ways to Reduce Strain on your AC System

ac filterWith the hot and humid weather in Southwest Florida, any extra stress on your air conditioner can not only increase your energy usage and utility costs, but it can also lead to premature failure of the system. By taking a few simple precautions and keeping up with routine maintenance, extending the life of an HVAC system is possible, and relatively easy.

Have the System Inspected Twice a Year

Routine maintenance is the key to extending the life of an HVAC system. Have a professional inspect the system at least twice a year, performing regular maintenance like cleaning the coils and changing the air filter, as well as looking for anything that may pose a problem in the future. With the system in prime condition, it will not have to work as hard, extending its useful lifespan.

Replace the Air Filter Often

Between service visits, you should check the air filter yourself at least once a month. A clogged filter significantly reduce efficiency and make your system work harder, shortening its lifespan. Also, keep the outdoor condenser unit free of leaves and other debris to keep the system running smoothly.

Seal and Insulate the Air Ducts

As much as 40 percent of the energy typically used for cooling is wasted in poorly sealed and insulated ductwork. By having a professional seal and insulate your air ducts, your system will operate more efficiently, reducing your energy costs.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

When you are away from home, raising the temperature about 5 degrees can not only reduce cooling costs, but it also decreases stress on your air conditioning system. A programmable thermostat makes raising the temperature and returning it to normal easy and automatic.

Minimize Heat Gain

Extra heat in your home adds undue stress to your air conditioner. Close the blinds or shades during the daytime to prevent solar gain, and avoid heat-generating activities like cooking, bathing and washing dishes or clothes until the evening, when it is cooler.

For more tips about extending the life of an HVAC system, talk to our experts at Conditioned Air today, serving Southwest Florida.

3 Benefits to Having an Ongoing Service Contract

service agreementLike any complex system, routine maintenance is the key to keeping your HVAC system running efficiently and extending its lifespan. An HVAC service contract is the ideal way to make sure that your system receives the care that it needs at regular intervals, and it offers several tangible benefits for both you and your HVAC system.

Regular Professional Maintenance

By choosing an HVAC service contract, your system will receive regular maintenance by professionals that are familiar with your system and that you can trust, according to the guidelines recommended by the manufacturer of the system. Not only does this keep your HVAC system operating properly and efficiently, it also protects its warranty and value. Service will be scheduled according to the requirements of the system, and typically includes things like changing the air filter, cleaning the air condioner coils, checking the refrigerant levels and cleaning the air handler.

Lower Energy Costs

With an HVAC service contract, your system will be kept in prime condition, preventing issues like clogged air filters, worn belts and dirty condenser or compressor coils. Such problems can make your system work harder to keep your home comfortable, increasing your energy usage and your utility costs.

Extended Service Life

An HVAC system that receives regular maintenance will last much longer than a system that receives only the minimal amount, and will experience fewer problems over its lifetime. Regular maintenance also helps to reduce long-term repair costs by catching problems early, preventing them from doing further damage to the system and extending its lifespan.

To learn more about the benefits of an HVAC service contract, talk to our professionals at Conditioned Air today. We have HVAC service contracts available for both our residential and our commercial customers, and we offer service throughout the Southwest Florida region, from the Bradenton area to Marco Island, including the communities of Ft. Myers, Sarasota and Naples.

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