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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.

What to Expect when Upgrading your AC Unit

new air conditionerNow that the weather is a bit cooler in Southwest Florida, and the demand on your air conditioning system is lower, it is the perfect time to consider upgrading if your system is showing its age. Here are a few of the many benefits you can expect when upgrading your air conditioner:

Improved Energy Efficiency

Today’s air conditioning systems use much less energy than systems made even 10 or 15 years ago, which will significantly reduce the amount of money you spend cooling your home each month. The energy efficiency of an air conditioning system is represented by a rating known as its SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, with a higher number being the most efficient. Older systems could have a SEER of as low as 6 to 10, while today’s minimum is 13 SEER, and the most efficient systems earn ratings of 20 SEER or above.

Better Sizing Methods

Many older air conditioners were sized for a home using rough estimates based on square footage alone. This often lead to systems that were smaller, or, more often, larger than necessary, which results in inefficient operation and increased maintenance costs. Today’s professional HVAC technicians use a Manual J load calculation to properly size air conditioning and heating systems, which accounts for not only the size of the home, but also the number of rooms, the interior layout, the type of insulation, the number of occupants and many other factors. This results in a much more efficient and longer-lasting system installation.

New Technologies

Not only will upgrading your air conditioner result in better energy efficiency and lower cooling costs, but you will also be able to enjoy the latest technologies for improved comfort and convenience. Many of today’s most popular systems feature improved coil designs that cool more efficiently, variable speed compressors or fans that improve comfort, optional zoning systems that allow independent temperature adjustments in different areas, and optional WiFi thermostats that save energy and are easily programmed.

For more information about upgrading your air conditioner, talk to our team at Conditioned Air, serving the Naples and Sarasota areas.

Common AC Problems in South Florida and What to do About Them

southwest florida air conditionerWith weather that is quite often hot and humid, a large part of maintaining your Florida home is making sure that your air conditioner is running correctly and efficiently. There are several problems that, as a homeowner, you may be able to solve yourself to avoid an unnecessary service fee.

Frozen Coil

In many cases, a frozen coil is the result of a simple airflow issue. The air filter could be extremely dirty or clogged, or the return ducts could be blocked. Check the air filter and replace it with a new one if necessary, or clean and reinstall it if it’s reusable. Check all the supply and return vents in your home for blockages and clear the obstructions. If the problem remains, the cause may be more serious, such as a refrigerant leak, and you will need professional assistance.

Poor Cooling Performance

If not enough cool air is being delivered into your home, the problem may be a dirty evaporator coil, which is located in or near the air handler. Carefully clean the coil with a soft brush and a vacuum. Also, make sure there is no debris in or around the outdoor condenser unit. If there is, turn off the power, remove large debris by hand and rinse the coil with a garden hose to remove the rest.

System Won’t Turn On

In most cases, this is a simple electrical fault. Reset the breakers that power the air conditioning system, and make sure that the compressor overheat circuit has not been tripped. If this does not fix the problem, or the breakers and safety circuits trip repeatedly, your air conditioner may need professional repairs.

System Cycles On and Off Excessively

This typically happens when the outdoor condenser unit is dirty or its airflow is blocked by vegetation or debris, though it could also be caused by a dirty evaporator coil. Clean both coils and have the system inspected if the problem remains.

For more tips about maintaining your Florida home and its cooling system, talk to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air, serving the Southwest Florida region.

Maximizing Energy Efficiency with a Programmable Thermostat

programmable thermostatA programmable thermostat is a relativity inexpensive upgrade for your HVAC system that makes it easy to adjust the temperature of your home automatically according to your schedule. With the correct programmable thermostat settings, you can save over 10 percent on your cooling costs without sacrificing your comfort or changing your routine.

Setting Your Programmable Thermostat

When your home is unoccupied, keeping it cooled to your preferred temperature wastes money and energy while adding unnecessary wear and tear to your air conditioning system. By raising the temperature 5 to 10 degrees while you are at work or away, you can save significant amounts of money.

Then, by returning the temperature to normal about an hour or so before you come home (depending on how long it takes your air conditioner to respond), you can ensure that your home will be comfortable when you arrive. Similarly, you can increase the savings by raising the temperature a few degrees while you sleep.

During cooler weather, you can modify the programmable thermostat settings to only turn the system on during the hottest parts of the day, and use other forms of ventilation, such as open windows and fans, to cool your home inexpensively.

Types of Programmable Thermostats

Standard programmable thermostats use a simple display and a few buttons to enter your settings. They come in several varieties, including models with one program for the week and one for the weekend, versions that have a weekday program and two weekend programs, and models that feature one program for each day. Each program offers several set points, programmable by time and temperature.

More advanced models include Wi-Fi connectivity for easy programming from a local computer, or even from mobile devices over the internet, as well as features like:

  • Touchscreen displays
  • Real-time weather information
  • Ability to add occupancy or temperature sensors
  • Integration with home automation systems
  • Advanced self-programming capabilities

These programmable thermostats typically cost more, but are far easier to use.

For more information about choosing the best programmable thermostat settings, talk to our team at Conditioned Air today, serving the Southwest Florida area.

Using AC in Fall? When and How to Get the Most From Your AC System

ceiling fanIn Southwest Florida, year-round air conditioning use is often a reality, but by taking advantage of the cooler nights and mornings during the fall, you can reduce your energy usage and utility bills. Simply follow these simple A/C operating tips for Southwest Florida to save some money this season.

Use Natural Ventilation

In the cooler mornings or evenings, open your windows and turn on your ventilation system or some fans to bring the cooler air into your home and freshen indoor air. Once it starts to warm up in the afternoon, close the windows to keep the warm air out and close the curtains or blinds on southern windows to keep the heat of the sun at bay.

Adjust Your Thermostat

If you have not already, install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature in your home throughout the day. During cooler mornings or evenings, turn the thermostat up to prevent the air conditioner from running unnecessarily. While you are at work or asleep, raise the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees to save even more money. Finally, during the hottest part of the day, reduce the temperature to remain comfortable.

Change the Air Filter Often

Check the air filter for your air conditioner at least once a month and replace it as necessary. With the windows open to allow fresh air inside, it may become soiled more often, reducing the efficiency of your system. At least once a year, have your air conditioner inspected and maintained by a professional to keep it running at peak efficiency.

Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans can help make it feel cooler at higher temperatures, and they are useful throughout the year. While the windows are open, they can help the air circulate through the home, and while the air conditioner is operating, they can help spread the cool air more evenly.

For other handy A/C operating tips for Southwest Florida, talk to our home cooling experts at Conditioned Air. We have been serving Southwest Florida, including the communities of Ft. Myers, Sarasota and Naples, since 1962.

Controlling Airborne Mold Spores and Allergens in Your Home

airborne mold allergensIndoor air pollutants like pollen, dust and mold spores can be irritating to breathe and may make conditions like asthma or allergies worse. With a few simple steps, however, you can control indoor allergy issues in your Southwest Florida home and make it far more comfortable.

Change Air Filters Regularly

The air filter in your air conditioner is primarily designed to protect the system from harm, but it also helps improve indoor air quality. Check the filter monthly and replace it as necessary. Consider upgrading to a filter with a higher MERV rating for better air filtration, or replace your standard filter with an electrostatic or HEPA version to catch even more particles.

Keep Your HVAC System Maintained

Your air conditioning system should be inspected and maintained by an HVAC professional at least yearly, performing basic tasks like cleaning the coils, checking refrigerant levels and lubricating moving parts. For better control of indoor allergy issues, consider having your air ducts cleaned at the same time to remove accumulations of dust, pollen and other particles.

Clean Your Home Often

Household dust can trap many irritating particles, including mold spores and pollen. Minimize your indoor allergy issues by vacuuming your home often using a machine with a HEPA filter, and by dusting regularly with moist or electrostatic cloths. Remove as much clutter from your home as possible to minimize the locations where dust can collect, and use hypoallergenic bedding that is cleaned often to minimize allergens.

Maintain Healthy Humidity

Houses that are humid will be more likely to have mold or mildew problems, and high humidity also supports the growth of pests like dust mites. To minimize the amount of allergens in your home, keep humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. A dehumidifier can help reduce humidity during the summer, and will also make your home feel cooler. When the air is relatively dry, a humidifier can be used to increase humidity.

For other tips to reduce indoor allergy issues, talk to our air quality experts at Conditioned Air. We serve the Southwest Florida region, including Naples and Sarasota.

How Ductless Air Conditioning Systems Save Energy

ductless air conditionerThanks to their simple installation process, ductless air conditioning systems are a popular way to add air conditioning to a home that lacks it, or to a new addition. With their unique designs and lack of energy-wasting ductwork, they are also extremely efficient. Here is how ductless air conditioning systems save energy and reduce your cooling costs.

Lack of Air Ducts

Typical central air conditioning systems use a series of independent air ducts to distribute the cooled air to each room. Even the most efficiently designed, well-insulated ducts will allow the conditioned air to warm slightly before it reaches its destination. As ductwork ages, it loses even more efficiency, with joints that leak conditioned air and insulation that becomes less effective or deteriorates over time. In the average air conditioning system, 30 to 40 percent of the energy used for cooling is wasted as air travels through the ductwork and either warms up or leaks out.

Ductless air conditioning systems feature an interior air handler consisting of an evaporator coil, fan and air filter, which is mounted directly in the room that requires cooling. Mounted outside, the other half features a condenser and compressor in one enclosure, and the two halves are connected through a small opening in the wall that carries the refrigerant lines, electrical cables and other components. By eliminating the ductwork, ductless air conditioners use 30 to 40 percent less energy than a traditional air conditioning system.

Optional Zoning

With ductless air conditioning systems, one or more air handlers can be added to a single compressor unit, with one air handler in each room that requires a cooling system. The temperature can be adjusted independently at each air handler, allowing some rooms to be cooler than others, or enabling you to completely shut off the cooling system in an unoccupied room. Compared to cooling systems with a single zone, this can save a significant amount of energy.

To learn more about how ductless air conditioning systems save energy, talk to our cooling experts at Conditioned Air. We serve Southwest Florida, including Ft. Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Sarasota & Bradenton.

What You Need to Know about Mini Split Air Conditioners

mimi split air conditionerConventional air conditioning systems waste up to 40 percent of the energy they use through losses in the air duct system. By eliminating ducts, mini split air conditioners offer a more efficient alternative that’s easy to install in existing homes, new homes or additions. If you’re considering mini split air conditioners for your home, here are a few things you should know beforehand.

Installation Requirements

Mini split air conditioners are installed in two sections, an outdoor condenser unit and one or more interior air handlers that can be wall- or ceiling-mounted. The two halves are connected by refrigerant lines and electrical cables through a 4- to 6-inch opening, allowing a flexible installation in nearly any room with very little construction required. There are no ducts or vents to add, and the cool air is delivered directly where it’s needed.

Energy Efficiency

Because mini split systems eliminate the ductwork, they’re typically 30 to 40 percent more efficient than standard systems, resulting in significantly lower cooling costs.

Price

Mini split systems tend to cost up to 30 percent more than traditional air conditioning solutions, though the higher initial price can easily be earned back through long-term energy savings. They are also one of the most cost-effective ways to add cooling to an addition or to a home without air ducts, such as those heated by electric, hot water or steam systems.

Optional Zoning

Mini split air conditioners are available as single-zone systems, with a condenser unit and a single air handler, or as multiple-zone systems, with a condenser unit and several interior air handlers. With a multiple-zone system, an entire house can be cooled, with each zone having independent temperature controls. Cooling costs can then be reduced by keeping some areas at higher temperatures than frequently used rooms.

To learn more about mini split air conditioners, talk to our HVAC professionals at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.

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