Amana-hac Learning Center

  • Cost Saving Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

    A1_cost_saving_maintenance_tips

    In North America, many homes are heated using forced-air systems. Your gas furnace, which is often located in the basement, attic, crawl space or utility closet, may use natural gas or propane as the energy source to create heat within the furnace’s heat exchanger.  Air is moved across the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the ductwork to heat the home.


    What Factors Affect Efficiency?


    Each gas furnace model has an energy efficiency rating in the form of a percent. This number is its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), or the ratio of annual heat output of the furnace compared to the amount of annual fuel energy it consumes. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE of 80%, it means 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat while 20% escapes and is wasted.1


    How AFUE Can Save Me Money?


    Many older furnaces may have efficiencies of only 56 to 70% AFUE, which can cost the homeowner more to heat their home compared to a higher AFUE model. Switching to a newer, more energy-efficient gas furnace that can reach upwards of 98% AFUE means nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home.1 As a result, the homeowner’s monthly heating bills can be reduced.

     

    Condensing Vs. Non-Condensing


    The gas furnaces available in North America can be put into two categories: condensing and non-condensing.


    • Non-Condensing Furnace: A mid-efficiency furnace (80% and 90% AFUE) vents exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.
    • Condensing Furnace:A high-efficiency furnace (90% AFUE or higher) utilizes a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases in order to reach higher efficiencies. A high-efficiency condensing furnace requires specialized venting.

    Choosing a Furnace


    The initial cost of a high-efficiency condensing furnace can be more expensive than a less efficient model. According to The Department of Energy, homeowners will likely save more money on fuel bills over the life of a high AFUE product when compared to a lower AFUE or less efficient gas furnace. 1 However, when determining if a higher-efficiency furnace is cost-effective for your budget, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership to determine how long it would take to recuperate initial costs of a higher AFUE model.


    • Are you currently in your “forever home”?
    • How long to your expect your current home to fit your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to sell your home in the near future?
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?


    Additionally, many states and utilities offer tax credits and other incentives to homeowners who install high-efficiency furnaces. An experienced local dealer can assist you in determining whether a higher efficiency gas furnace or a mid-efficiency model is right for your needs.

     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, the former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly news magazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer.www.achrnews.com

    Furnace and Boilers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov:http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers

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  • What to Expect from your Heating and Cooling Maintenance Service Call

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    Congratulations!  By regularly scheduling heating and cooling maintenance with a licensed professional dealer, you may be extending the life of your system!  Now that contracted maintenance has been scheduled, it’s time to prepare for the technicians visit.

    Before the Technician Visit


    Do you know what equipment will be serviced? If possible, you should identify the manufacturer and model number of your equipment so it is immediately available to the technician upon their arrival at your home.  You may be able to locate this from your initial bill of sale. If this information is not available from your paperwork, you should not attempt to open any equipment in order to access this information.

    During the Service Call


    Your HVAC technician may perform a complete system check. They may inspect all parts of a system, clean it as necessary, and perform the routine maintenance specific to your system. Depending on the equipment being evaluated, a routine HVAC maintenance service call may include the following:  

    • Inspecting main HVAC components
    • Checking for adequate air flow
    • Inspection of refrigerant lines
    • Clearing drain lines and pans
    • Inspecting exterior fan
    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspecting system controls
    • Inspecting and lubricating moving parts
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Replacing air filters
    • Checking electrical connections

    Proper airflow is an important aspect of indoor comfort. If you believe you have an airflow issue, talk to your technician about checking ductwork. If the technician discovers that your ductwork is leaking, they may recommend duct sealing. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a typical U.S. home loses 20%-30% of duct system air due to leaks, holes, and poor connections.1  According to the DOE, sealing HVAC air ducts can drastically reduce duct leakage and improve both indoor air quality and overall system efficiency.

    Follow Up

    Routinely servicing your indoor heating or cooling equipment by a licensed professional HVAC technician is as important as taking your car to a mechanic for its required oil changes and maintenance. If an extended service contract or agreement is not already in place, technicians may often offer to set up a maintenance agreement wherein the customer agrees to pay a set fee for standardized scheduled system maintenance. Routine maintenance may extend the life of your HVAC equipment and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time.

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer.

    1 Duct Sealing. (2017). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_ducts

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  • Three Good Reasons to Replace a Gas Furnace

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    Typically, homeowners don’t get excited about having to replace their gas furnace. However, the idea of freezing in your home isn’t too exciting either. Despite efforts to prolong its life, there may come a time when it is better to replace your furnace rather than repair it. The replace decision often comes down to your current furnace’s age, condition, and/or performance.1

    Continuous Repairs


    An aging furnace may start to show its age even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly skilled HVAC contractor. Calling your professional licensed HVAC contractor again and again for repair after repair is not convenient and may get expensive for a homeowner. 

    As discussed in "Should I Repair or Replace my Gas Furnace?" you should determine your repair spending cut off point. If your repair estimate is close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching a new gas furnace before you experience a breakdown.

    How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? A good reference point could be when the cost to repair a gas furnace is roughly 50% of the cost of a new gas furnace. However, it’s best to discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a clearer assessment of the price tag of repairs and the predicted longevity of your existing gas furnace. 

    Heating and Comfort


    Your gas furnace system may have a complicated arrangement.  However, if one or more parts involved in delivering heat is damaged or not working as intended, your heating system has the potential to become a hazard to your indoor comfort — probably one of your highest priorities for your home and family.2

    Preventive maintenance and professional inspections are important aspects of the operation of your gas furnace and continued indoor comfort. While evaluating your gas furnace, an HVAC dealer may uncover small cracks, leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires or corroded electrical contacts that can lead to furnace failure.

    According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, older furnaces that do not comply with current standard codes may pose a higher risk due to their earlier technology. "Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected, but older furnaces may not have these devices."3

    Energy Efficiency


    For most homeowners, heating your home costs you money. Energy.gov estimates that heating and cooling may account for up to half of a typical home’s total energy use. As a result, a homeowner should make every effort to increase the energy efficiency of their HVAC equipment.

    To determine your home's annual energy use compared to similar homes in your area, Energystar provides a simple online assessment tool. The assessment reveals that a score below a five means that your home’s energy use “is above average and you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.”4 

    While there are a variety of reasons and potential fixes that can increase your energy efficiency, a licensed professional HVAC contractor may reveal that the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of your gas furnace may be the primary cause of these excessive costs. If this is the case in your home, a new, energy-efficient system may be able to help lower your energy bills.

    For example, an older gas furnace with an AFUE rating of 70% would mean that only
    70% of its fuel is used to heat your home. The remaining 30% may escape through the chimney or exhaust. That means that up to 30% of the energy used to run your furnace may be wasted. A high-efficiency model can offer higher AFUE ratings, potentially providing significant energy efficiency and savings on utilities.

    While every homeowner’s HVAC situation and budget is unique, SmarterHouse.org, a project of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment.




    1 Buying Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved Dec. 05, 2016, from Smarter House: http://smarterhouse.org/heating-systems/buying-tips
    2 Gas Furnace Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved from AHRI: http://www.ahrinet.org/Homeowners/Improve-Safety/Gas-Furnace-Safety.aspx
    3 Repair or Replace. (n.d.). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm
    4 When is it Time to Replace? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers

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  • Reasons to Upgrade and Replace your Air Conditioner

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    Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when your local, independent, HVAC dealer suggests that you replace your air conditioner. However, many homeowners often question when a replacement should supersede a repair. Age, condition, and performance expectations are often three good factors to consider when deciding if you should replace your current AC unit.1

    The Cost of Repairs


    Air conditioning repairs may be inconvenient, but continuous or frequently unplanned repairs can be expensive! Even with the help of a highly skilled HVAC contractor, an air conditioner may start to show its age.  To keep costs under control, you may want to establish a repair cost cutoff point - meaning that you will replace your air conditioner if repairs cost more than your set amount.  If repairs are getting close to your cutoff point, you may want to start researching new energy-efficient air conditioners.

    How costly does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? A good reference point could be when the cost to repair your current air conditioner is roughly 50% of the cost of a new air conditioner.  You may find that a new air conditioner could be less costly than the total spent on a series of repairs. Yet, you should always discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a better idea of necessary repairs and the predicted lifespan of your current AC unit.

    Energy Efficiency


    Although your indoor comfort may be important, no one likes to spend his or her hard-earned money on high energy bills. According to EnergyStar, your heating and cooling system may be responsible for up to half of your energy bill.2  There could be many reasons for your high energy bills, but your air conditioning unit SEER rating, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, may a contributing factor. 

    The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the unit is designed to use. Your professional or licensed technician should be able to tell you the SEER rating of your current air conditioner, and how your energy bills may benefit from a higher SEER unit. SmarterHouse.org states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment. If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, you may save up to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model.3 

    Energystar.gov’s online assessment tool can be used to compare your home's annual energy use to similar homes in your area. The site suggests that if your home scores below a five, “you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.”4

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets regional minimum energy efficiency standards for air conditioners. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.  

    The Right Size for Cool Comfort


    Bigger isn’t always better — especially when talking about your air conditioner.  An air conditioner shouldn’t be too big or too small; it has to be just the right size to cool your home efficiently.

    When sized and installed properly, an air conditioning unit typically reaches maximum energy efficiency within a few minutes after starting up.  But if cycle times are shortened, and the unit continuously turns on and off, it may not hit peak efficiency.  Oversized air conditioner units may create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house is cool. This may end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit, affect your indoor comfort level, and influence your overall energy costs.

    Your home’s layout, ventilation system, and building materials play a major role in determining the proper size needed to cool your home. An air condition unit is measured in tonnage, but it’s not based on the actual weight of the equipment. A ton measures your air conditioner’s ability to cool.

    One ton = the ability to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) in one hour


    There are many elements that go into sizing an air conditioner for a particular house. The accurate AC tonnage for your home may be different from your neighbor’s home with the same square footage. When determining air conditioner sizing, your licensed professional HVAC dealer will evaluate the home’s details and utilize specialized calculations. “A right-sized air conditioner is an important part of an energy-efficient home and will result in improved comfort, durability, and lower utility bills.”5

    If your current aging air conditioner is the wrong size, the SEER rating is low, and it requires multiple or high-dollar repairs, you may want to consider replacing your system! To find out if your current central cooling system should be replaced, contact a local, independent HVAC dealer. 


    1, 3 Buying Tips. 2015. <http://smarterhouse.org/cooling-systems/buying-tips>.
    2 Air Conditioning. n.d. <http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning>.
    4 When is it Time to Replace? n.d. <https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers>.
    5 EnergyStar. "RIGHT-SIZED AIR CONDITIONERS ." n.d. EnergyStar.gov. <https://www.energystar.gov/ia/home_improvement/home_sealing/RightSized_AirCondFS_2005.pdf>
    .

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  • The Forced-Air, High-Efficiency Gas Furnace

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    When the outdoor temperatures drop, you want a home that is cozy and comfortable inside! Yet, if you are like most people, you also want an energy-efficient heating option that can provide long-term energy bill savings! Forced-air gas furnaces are available in high-efficiency options that may provide the efficiency and savings that you are looking for from your central heating system.

    What is a Force-Air Gas Heating System?

    A forced-air gas heating system uses natural gas or propane as its energy source to heat your home’s indoor air:

    • If your home is heated by a forced-air gas furnace system, your equipment may be located in the basement, attic, crawl space or utility closet. 
    • Natural gas or propane is used to create heat within the furnace’s heat exchanger. 
      Air from the home's ductwork is blown over the heat exchanger, warming the air as it moves across.
    • The furnace's blower then forces the heated air into the supply ductwork, distributing it throughout the home.


    Factors of Efficiency


    Each gas furnace model has an energy efficiency rating in the form of a percent. This number is its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), or the ratio of annual heat output of the furnace compared to the amount of annual fuel energy it consumes. 

    For example, if a furnace has an AFUE of 80%, it means 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat while 20% escapes and is wasted.1 Today’s high-efficiency systems can have an AFUE as high as 98.5%, meaning nearly all the energy purchased is used for heating your home. 

    A furnace with a variable speed indoor blower motor can operate at different capacities to more accurately control the heated air flow to your home. This energy-saving feature may save you money on utility bills compared to single-stage furnaces because the system doesn’t have to run at full capacity to reach the set temperature.

    How Can AFUE Save on Energy Costs?


    Many older furnaces may have efficiencies of less than 70% AFUE, which can cost the homeowner more to heat their home compared to a higher AFUE model.1 Switching to a newer, more energy-efficient gas furnace that can reach upwards of 98% AFUE means nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home.1 As a result, the homeowner’s monthly heating bills can be reduced. 

    Current energy efficiency standards vary by region. To determine your minimum standard, check with your local, licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    Types of Gas Furnaces


    The gas furnaces available in North America can be put into two categories based on specific venting parameters: condensing and non-condensing. 

    • Non-Condensing Gas Furnace: A mid-efficiency furnace (80% and 90% AFUE) vents exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof. 
    • Condensing Gas Furnace:  A high-efficiency furnace (90% AFUE or higher) utilizes a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases in order to reach higher efficiencies. A high-efficiency condensing furnace requires specialized venting.

    Homeowners can also install a system with a modulating feature. A modulating gas furnace continuously regulates the amount of fuel burned to maintain the set temperature of your thermostat. This modulating component may minimize indoor temperature fluctuations.

    Choosing a Furnace


    The initial cost of a high-efficiency condensing furnace may be more expensive than a less efficient model. According to The Department of Energy, homeowners will likely save more money on fuel bills over the life of a higher AFUE product when compared to a lower AFUE or less efficient gas furnace. 1 However, when determining if a higher-efficiency furnace is cost-effective for your budget, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership to determine how long it would take to recuperate initial costs of a higher AFUE gas furnace. Some questions to consider are:

    • Are you currently in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to sell your home in the near future?
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?

    A licensed professional gas furnace dealer can assist you in determining whether a higher efficiency gas furnace or a mid-efficiency model is right for your needs.

     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, the former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly news magazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com




    1 Furnace and Boilers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers

     
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  • Should I Repair or Replace my Gas Furnace?

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    Is your current furnace keeping up the indoor temperature when the outdoor temperatures are falling? Do you find yourself snuggled under blankets to keep warm in your home?  If you are not getting the results you expect from your gas furnace, you may want to have a discussion with your independent HVAC contractor on whether to repair or replace your gas furnace.

    Whether your furnace is in need of repairs or you are just looking to increase the energy-efficiency of heating your home, the repair or replace decision may not be an easy one! Unless your furnace is a hazard or damaged beyond repair, there are hardly any specific rules for determining whether it’s time to repair or replace your gas furnace. However, below are a few concepts that may help.

    Is Your Gas Furnace Acting its Age?


    According to Energystar, your older heating system may be less efficient and have an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating less than 70%.1 New energy-efficient furnaces are now required to have a minimum of 80% AFUE, meaning more energy is converted into usable heat – potentially helping to lower the cost of your monthly energy bills.

    As a furnace ages, it may require more than average repairs or maintenance service. The estimated cost to keep the furnace running, as provided by your local HVAC dealer, will give you more concrete reasons to replace or repair.  However, age isn’t everything.

    Repair vs. Replacement Cost


    Homeowners should decide a limit for the cost of repairs. How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before you decide to replace it?    At some point the cost of repairing a gas furnace could be more expensive than replacing it. A good reference point could be when the cost to repair a gas furnace is roughly 50% of the cost of a new gas furnace.  This is offered as an illustrative example. You should confirm it with your local HVAC dealer.

    For example, if your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that is not covered by a limited warranty, the equipment replacement in addition to labor costs may exceed up to the 50% threshold.  At that point, it may be time to replace. Additionally, the long-term energy bill savings of purchasing a high-efficient furnace may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  On the contrary, if the problem is an inexpensive fix that restores peak efficiency, a repair may be the best approach.

    To get a more specific, cost vs. benefit assessment, a homeowner should discuss repair vs. replace cost benefit with their licensed gas furnace dealer.

    What’s your AFUE?


    Today’s systems can have an AFUE as high as 98.5%, meaning nearly all the energy purchased is used for heating your home. An 80% AFUE gas furnace means that 80 cents of every energy dollar warms your home.1

    Energy efficiency standards vary by region. To determine the minimum energy efficiency standard where you live, check with your local gas furnace dealer. 

    Technology and Temperature Consistency


    For some homeowners, their older gas furnace operates in either 100% ON or OFF. Historically, when the indoor temperature falls, the furnace kicks on at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached. This ON/OFF cycle means that the indoor temperatures may fluctuate as the system turns cycles. 

    Advanced technology enables your gas furnace to reduce temperature swings while quietly running more efficiently. For example, a furnace with a variable speed indoor blower motor can operate at different capacities to more accurately control the heated air flow to your home. This energy-saving feature can save you money on utility bills compared to single stage furnaces because the system doesn’t have to run at full capacity to reach the set temperature. 

    Duration of Home Ownership


    Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new gas furnace. When determining to repair or replace your current unit, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Are you living in your forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years to you plan to sell your home?

    While there are many of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your furnace, the best source of information can come from your licensed professional HVAC contractor.  Because these local professionals can evaluate the details associated with your particular heating system, they are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance.  




    1 Furnaces. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/furnaces
    2 Should you repair or replace that product? (2014, January). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm?loginMethod=auto

     
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  • SEER and Cooling Efficiency

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    Residential electricity rates continue to fluctuate and climb over time. In 2006, the average retail price for electricity was 10.40¢ per Kilowatt hour. In 2016, that price increased to 12.55¢ per Kilowatt hour.1 With rates rising, how can you stay cool and comfortable in your home and spend less on utility costs?

    Your answer to mounting utility rates may rest with energy-efficient equipment and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. Air conditioners and heat pumps are assigned a SEER rating related to the unit’s energy efficiency and performance for cooling.  But what exactly is SEER, and why should it matter to you?

    What is SEER?


    SEER measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy your air conditioner or heat pump will use.

    The good news for homeowners in the market for a new air conditioner or heat pump is that current high-efficiency residential equipment can boast SEER ratings of 20 or higher. Higher SEER units typically cost less to run, which can save homeowners money on utility costs.

    Before the SEER rating was adopted, cooling equipment was rated based on how much energy was used while running at full capacity in a controlled environment.  The method was similar to calculating the average fuel efficiency of driving a vehicle 100 mph on rollers in a climate-controlled lab. The test results would not be an accurate measurement of the vehicle’s typical efficiency.

    As a result, the SEER rating was developed in order to provide consumers with a more accurate representation of the typical energy use of an air conditioning unit or heat pump in cooling mode. The SEER rating takes into account a number of important factors:

    • Climate zones
    • Part-load efficiency
    • Energy consumption in standby mode
    • Varying load requirements


    Cooling Efficiency Standards


    Residential cooling systems installed prior to 2005, when electricity averaged 9.45¢ per Kilowatt hour1, may have significantly lower SEER ratings than the current standard. As heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technologies improve, cooling systems are becoming more energy-efficient.

    As efficiency improves, it uses less energy to operate which may reduce your energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy efficiency requirements for air conditioners, heat pumps, and other HVAC equipment.

    In a nationwide effort to promote energy savings that benefit the consumer, in 2006 the DOE raised the minimum SEER requirement from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. If your air conditioner or heat pump was installed in 2005, there is a good chance that it’s a 10 SEER unit.

    In 2015, the DOE raised the minimum SEER requirement again for central air conditioners and heat pumps installed in certain regions of the U.S.2   The minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners is currently 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S., and 13 in the North. Heat pumps have a national standard, with a minimum of 14 SEER.

    What’s Right for You?


    Your home’s cooling costs are impacted by your local electricity rate, SEER and typical usage. While some cooling systems are only used in warmer months, others may run nearly year-round. 

    If you live in a high-use location, you may want to consider an air conditioning or heat pump with a higher SEER rating to save even more on energy costs. However, if you live in a more temperate area where you go much of the year without the need for indoor cooling, a minimum SEER rating may make the most financial sense. 

    To learn how to reduce your energy costs and which Amana® brand’s high SEER products is right for you, speak with an independent Amana dealer in your area.



    1 U.S. EIA. (2017, May). Monthly Energy Review, Average Retail Prices of Electricity. Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec9_11.pdf
    2 Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved from Appliance Standards Awareness Project: http://www.appliance-standards.org/product/central-air-conditioners-and-heat-pumps

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  • Homeowner Tips for Selecting a Heating & Cooling Contractor

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    Selecting a qualified HVAC contractor is an important, yet often daunting task. Whether your home’s heating and cooling system is in need of routine maintenance, emergency repairs or a total replacement, ensure you hire a qualified professional that best fits the job. Below are some of the important steps that may help you feel confident with your selection. 

    Do Research


    The internet may be a great tool to help weed out subpar HVAC service companies.  The following websites may offer insight into some of the heating and cooling contractors in your area:

    • Heating and cooling manufacturers’ websites often provide an independent dealer locator with contact information and key details for contractors near your location.
    • Websites like Nextdoor and Yelp may make it easier to locate local contractors, identify recommended companies, and read customer reviews.
    • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), an organization that represents HVAC contractors, offers a searchable database of its contractor members.
    • Better Business Bureau provides accreditation and gives businesses a letter grade, from A+ to F, based on information it is able to obtain, including complaints received from the public.


    Referrals


    Referrals can give a homeowner perspective as to the type of experience they can expect from a particular contractor. Ask neighbors, friends, and family for referrals.

    Contractors may also be able to provide customer references for you to contact to gather more information. Homeowners should “ask [the references] about the contractor's installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.”1

    Read Reviews


    Read reviews carefully. A quick glance at the number of review stars can often be misleading. Be sure to read the written comments and look for contractors with a good reputation for value, quality and customer service. Look for reviews that address::

    • Did the contractor address the problem? 
    • Did the contractor provide clear details of the problem to the homeowner?
    • Did the contractor resolve disputes in a timely, thoughtful, and respectful manner? 

    Reviews may reveal a contractor’s commitment to customers’ satisfaction. Providing prompt solutions and addressing any errors is the mark of a good service company.


    What to Look For in an HVAC Contractors


    Every state has specific HVAC licensing, training and certification requirements. Your state may require that HVAC contractors be licensed, bonded and insured, while others may just require training and certification. This information can often be found online, but you should confirm the requirements for your location and the qualifications of the HVAC contractor prior to scheduling an appointment. Once you have scheduled a service appointment, there are a few things that you should pay attention to: 

    Responsive:  Does the technician or dispatcher stay in touch with you by phone, text, or email leading up to the service appointment? Do they communicate any schedule changes in a timely manner?

    Prompt:  Does the technician arrive within the specified time window or alert you if a problem forces them to miss the initial arrival time.

    Appearance:  Does the technician appear “work ready” or are they wearing a dealer uniform? Many technicians certified through organizations such as NATE (North American Technician Excellence) wear patches on their uniforms. Does your technician have any certification patches displayed on their uniform?

    Patience: Does the technician listen to your concerns, take the time to explain their findings and answer any questions you may have?

    Meticulous: Depending on the nature of the appointment (emergency vs. annual inspection), a technician may perform a complete system evaluation and/or an inspection. This process can take time and should not just be a quick once-over. Upon completion, the technician should go over any concerning results.

    Documentation: The technician should provide written or digital documentation of all the work done and/or provides price estimates for future services.

    A good technician will be pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, courteous, patient and willing to answer your questions. Remember, your HVAC contractor provides a service — their job is to serve you to the best of their ability. If you are not happy with something, do not be afraid to ask them to fix it.

    Think Long-Term


    If you are looking to purchase and install a new heating or cooling system (or both), be sure you are working with a professional licensed HVAC contractor who is willing to provide a limited warranty for their labor and the installed products. Doing the job properly the first time may help eliminate the need for repeat visits, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance for years and years. 

    Many HVAC service companies offer maintenance agreements, which provide for scheduled maintenance of the HVAC system. This can be a worthwhile investment! Maintaining HVAC equipment efficiency can help ensure peak performance and may extend the life of the system.

    Manufacturer Dealer Locator


    Most HVAC manufacturers provide tools to assist homeowners in finding an independent dealer. Amana® brand’s dealer locator lists independent HVAC contractors who offer professional and licensed HVAC services by location, services provided and certification. These contractors typically offer a value-focused, flexible and informative approach to heating or cooling maintenance, service or purchases.


    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com/publications

    1 ENERGY STAR. (2017, July). 10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor. Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_contractors_10tips

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  • Should I Repair or Replace my Air Conditioner?

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    When your front door welcome mat is unwelcoming, or your coffee maker isn’t brewing, homeowners often replace them.  But as the price tag of “comfort of home” items increases, you may be left to wonder — should I repair to prolong use for an undetermined amount of time or replace it with a newer model. 

    The time may come when you need to decide whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, and the decision may not be an easy one. Unless your air conditioner is damaged beyond repair, there are no hard rules for determining whether to replace or repair your system. However, below are a few concepts that may help guide your decision:

    The “Seasoned” Air Conditioner


    Even with the dedicated maintenance efforts of a highly-skilled HVAC contractor, an aging air conditioner may start to show its age. If your unit is nearing its life expectancy, you may consider a replacement as an alternative to costly repairs.

    According to the Department of Energy, many older residential air conditioning systems in the U.S. have SEER ratings of 10 or less.1 Currently, the required minimum SEER rating of a residential air conditioning system differs by region but ranges from 13 SEER to 14 SEER. Standards dictate that higher SEER air conditioning units are more energy-efficient than lower SEER units when operating in similar conditions.

    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit in typical day-to-day use.


    “Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to keep your home cool could reduce energy use for air conditioning up to 50%.”2 Based on this logic, if your aging unit is a low SEER model that requires significant repairs, it may be beneficial for a homeowner to replace it with a more energy-efficient one.

    However, age isn’t the only factor when considering repairing or replacing your air condition unit.

    Cost and Budget


    Air conditioner repairs come in all sizes, shapes, and price tags! Every repair-replace scenario is unique to the expectations of the homeowner, their budget and the actual AC unit. If there is a repair-replace question, your local HVAC technician can supply an estimate of repair cost and equipment-specific reasons to consider a replacement unit. 

    If your air conditioner is repairable, homeowners should decide their budget and set a repair cost cutoff amount. What is the price of a repair before it’s worth it to upgrade to a new system? If your HVAC contractor provides repair estimates that come close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching new air conditioner models.

    Your HVAC technician can give you guidance based on your particular budget and the details of your air conditioner’s status. The long-term utility bill savings of purchasing a higher efficiency air condition system may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  On the contrary, if your air conditioner’s peak efficiency can be restored with an easy, inexpensive fix, a repair may be the best approach. 

    Indoor Comfort


    Are your indoor cooling needs are being addressed by your current unit? You may ask yourself: 

    • Is the AC cooling my house as I expect it should?
    • Is my air conditioner unit loud?
    • Do I notice inconsistent temperatures and fluctuations in my home?
    • Why are my energy bills higher than my neighbor’s house with the similar square footage?

    If you have indoor cooling concerns, discuss them with your HVAC technician before you decide to replace your current system. Based on your concerns, your HVAC technician may check for large air leaks, insufficient ducting and/or breaks in the duct seals. There are times when the actual source of a cooling problem is not the HVAC unit, but ineffective components of the system.3

    Cooling Technology


    Innovative technology is changing the way we live, and air conditioner manufacturers are taking note by applying advanced mechanics to their products to increase comfort. Advanced features, such as improved motor and compressor technologies, as well as smart home automation and communication may provide homeowners with more precise temperature control, sound reduction and energy efficiency when compared to their current model.

    However, if you want your air conditioner to work the way it’s intended to, air conditioner repairs and annual maintenance may help you get the most miles out of your current unit. 

    Save Green


    Despite SEER rating, if your air condition system is not running at peak performance, you may be spending more money on utility bills than necessary. According to the University of Kentucky Biosystems Engineering’s Builders Guide, a poorly functioning high-efficiency system may cost more to operate than a well-designed, moderate efficiency unit.4  Keeping your system at peak performance and running as intended can be financially beneficial! 

    However, if your HVAC technician reveals that the SEER of your air condition unit may be the primary culprit of your high utility bills, you should research the cost/benefits of a installing a higher SEER replacement unit. Under the same cooling conditions, a 10 SEER unit will be more expensive to do the same workload as a 14 SEER unit.

    Length of Home Ownership


    How long do you plan to live in your current house? Typically, the longer you reside at your current location, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new high-efficiency air conditioning unit. When evaluating your AC repair or replace decision, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Are you living in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (Getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years do you plan to sell your home?
    • Will a new energy-efficient air condition help sell your home if necessary?

    While there are a lot of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, the best source of information can come from your licensed professional HVAC dealer.  These local professionals understand the details associated with your particular system and are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance.  



    1 Central Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/central-air-conditioning 
    2 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
    3 Heat & Cool Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac
    4 University of Kentucky. "Builders' Guide." Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (n.d.): 115.

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  • How an Air Conditioner Works?

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    You take comfort knowing that your central air conditioner is designed to keep your family cool when the outdoor temperatures soar.  Although the best air conditioner is the one you don’t have to think about, it’s helpful to understand how the parts of your air conditioner works together during the refrigeration cycle to cool your home.

    Parts of an Air Conditioning System


    A typical central air conditioning system is a two-part or split system that includes:

    • An outdoor unit with:
      • Condenser coil
      • Compressor
      • Electrical components
      • Fan
    • The evaporator coil located near the indoor blower fan
    • A series of refrigeration lines that connect the inside and outside equipment
    • Refrigerant – the substance that creates the cooling effect by circulating through the indoor and outdoor unit
    • Ducts that serve as air tunnels to the various spaces inside your home
    • A thermostat or control system to set your desired temperature

    The Refrigeration Cycle

     

    1. Using electricity as its power source, the refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the indoor unit and the outside unit.
    2. Warm air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan.
    3. The refrigerant is pumped from the exterior compressor coil to the interior evaporator coil, where heat from the indoor air is absorbed.
    4. When the air’s heat is transferred to the evaporator coil, the air becomes cooler.
    5. This cooled air is then pushed through connecting ducts to vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature.
    6. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.

    Filtering the Air


    Air conditioning systems use air filters to reduce the number of airborne particulates that can build up on the surface of the cooling coil. It’s important to change your filters regularly as suggested by the manufacturer. As filters become loaded with particulates, your system may have to work harder, increasing your cooling bills.

    A cooling system offers “just the basics” with regards to enhanced indoor air quality. Advanced Indoor air filtration products can help maintain the efficient operation of your cooling system by removing a wider range of airborne particulates.

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