Amana-hac Learning Center

  • Heat Pump FAQs: Homeowners' Top 10 Questions

    Top 10 Heat Pump Questions

    As heat pumps become more and more popular, homeowners seem to have a few FAQs about this 'year-round' indoor comfort equipment. If you have some questions, you are not alone! Get your answer to our "Homeowners' Top 10 Heat Pump Questions" list? 

    1. How can I tell if my home has a heat pump or an air conditioner?

    A heat pump and air conditioner can look nearly identical. However, there is a simple way to determine if you have a heat pump. 

    1. Turn the “heat” ON at your thermostat or control system. 
    2. Once you feel the heated air coming from your return vent, go outside to the metal cabinet. 
    3. If it is operating and you don’t pay a gas or propane bill – Congratulations! You most likely have a heat pump!

    2. When should I schedule heat pump maintenance? 

    Your heat pump was designed to provide both heating and cooling for home. That means you may depend on it all year long! As a result, it’s a good idea to schedule a cooling maintenance service in the spring and a heating checkup in the fall.

    Seasonal preventive maintenance on heat pump system may guard against unexpected failures and possibly maximize its lifespan.1 So, if you have determined that you have a heat pump (see #1), be sure to schedule  pre-season maintenance.

    3. Which is better, a heat pump or an air conditioner?

    Both the heat pump and air conditioner are designed to use the refrigeration cycle to cool your home. To determine if one provides better cooling performance over another, you have to be sure you compare identically sized equipment with the same cooling features and efficiency ratings.

    But if your home needs an electric heat source, a heat pump can keep you warm too. Your air conditioner is designed just to keep your home cool!

    4. Why isn’t the temperature in my home consistent?

    When a heat pump is installed, it should be specifically sized for your home according to a set of unique calculations. If your heat pump is the wrong size for your home, it may not operate as designed. Oversized units may create bursts of warm or cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house reaches the desired temperature. An undersized heat pump may not be able to generate the cooling capacity required for your space. If your heat pump is the wrong size for your home, it may not provide the indoor comfortable you expect.

    If your heat pump is not performing as you expect, contact your licensed professional HVAC dealer for an inspection to determine a solution for your heating or cooling concerns.

    5. How long will my heat pump last?

    There are many factors that contribute to a heat pump’s lifespan and overall performance — maintenance schedule, how often filters are changed and proper installation are just a few. Location and operational hours may also impact the longevity of a heat pump. For example, if you live in an area with long, cold winters, a heat pump will run more than in temperate climates. The same goes for warmer climates.

    If you are looking for some heat pump peace-of-mind , be sure your installation technician provides a limited warranty for their work  and is qualified, experienced and recommended by a trusted source.  Research the manufacturer’s available limited warranties, registration requirements and coverages for your specific heat pump. 

    6. Should I manually turn ON my thermostat’s emergency or auxiliary heat switch if the temperature falls below freezing?

    As long as you are comfortable in your home, you do not need to manually switch on your heat pump’s auxiliary or emergency heat switch on your thermostat or control system.  The auxiliary heat is designed to turn on automatically if the heat pump needs additional heating capacity to meet your set temperature.  If you find that you continually need additional warmth in your home, contact your local, licensed professional HVAC dealer for a consultation.

    7. Should I cover my heat pump during the winter to protect it?

    DO NOT cover your heat pump in the winter! A heat pump is designed to operate during the cold weather. To function properly, it needs to pull in the outdoor air through the side vents and exhaust through the top of the unit. Your heat pump may not operate as designed if you cover it during the winter it, potentially causing damage to the system.

    8. Is it normal for my heat pump to have frost on it?

    The outside  of your heat pump may develop a coating of frost or light ice when it’s cold outside. Don’t be alarmed! When this happens, the heat pump’s defrost control sensor automatically starts a defrost cycle. During this period the auxiliary heat strips are automatically activated to warm the indoor air.

    However, if you notice a heavy coating of ice, contact your licensed professional HVAC dealer as soon as possible. Heavy ice accumulation may indicate that your heat pump needs servicing.

    9. What’s the difference between SEER and HSPF on a heat pump?

    A heat pump’s energy efficiency is rated by SEER and HSPF numbers.  The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures the efficiency of a heat pump in cooling mode.  HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) measures the efficiency of a heat pump in heating mode. The higher the SEER and HSPF number, the more efficient the unit is designed to be in heating and cooling mode.

    10. Why are some rooms colder or warmer than others?

    The answer may have something to do with #4! During installation, your HVAC dealer should have properly sized your new heat pump for your specific home.  If it’s not sized correctly, a heat pump may either shut off before the entire house reaches the desired temperature or not be able to generate the capacity required for your space.

    But if your heat pump is sized properly to your home, there may be an air duct issue. A poorly designed air duct system may results in poor airflow, leaving some rooms colder or warmer than others.  If your ducts aren’t sealed properly, or an air leak goes undetected, airflow may pass through your system unevenly. To properly determine the specific cause of a warm or cold room, contact your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    Amana brand heat pumps

    1 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. n.d. <http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner>.

    Read More
  • Three Tips to Lower the Cost of Indoor Comfort

    Tips to Lower Energy Bills

    Monthly utility bills remind us that our indoor comfort comes with a price. What if you could spend less and maintain or improve the level of indoor comfort in your home?

    If your heat pump, gas furnace or air conditioner is more than ten years old, your equipment may have a lower energy-efficiency rating of one that was built this year! As a result, your current equipment could be costing you more than you think!

    Let’s break it down…

    1. The Utility Bill

     

    On average, the cost of electricity continues to increase. In 2009, the average price of electricity for a home was approximately 11.51¢ per Kilowatt hour.1 As of 2017, that cost rose to 12.89¢ per Kilowatt hour!2 ENERGY STAR® says, “Understanding what goes into those monthly charges could put you in a better position to reduce them.”3 

    The Consumer Technology Association says that the typical homeowner owns an average of 24 home electronic products.4 If you have teenagers, there is a good chance that that number is much higher! As our collection of mobile devices and electronics increases, more energy dollars are funneled to supporting these products. 

    How can you compensate for these added home electronics on your utility bill, especially when the cost of electricity continues to rise?  The answer may be to take more control over the costs of the critical systems in your home - such as your central heating and cooling system! According to ENERGY STAR, up to 43% of a year’s total energy costs may come from maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your home.5  

    To determine the amount you spend on energy in your home at any given point in the day or night, you may want to examine some of the new interactive home automation platforms that intelligently monitor your home’s energy usage in real time. Some smart home energy meters offer a complete home energy breakdown profile detailing where and when energy is used, and how much it costs you in real-time. And let’s face it, using less energy at home may mean saving more money on your utility bills.

    2. Check HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings

     

    Understanding the energy-efficiency rating of your current gas furnace, air conditioner or heat pump is key to controlling energy usage. The higher the energy-efficiency rating of your heating and cooling system, the more you may be able to save on your monthly energy bill compared to lower efficiency systems. 

    The good news is that the energy efficiency ratings of new HVAC equipment continue to increase. So, if your system is less efficient than the current minimum standard, you may be paying too much for indoor comfort!

    So what are the current standards?

    SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): The number that represents the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use.  The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit operates. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 SEER in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 SEER in the North.

    AFUE (The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): The number that indicates how well fuel is consumed to produce heat by a gas furnace. The higher the AFUE rate, the higher the efficiency level of your gas furnace.

    HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor): The number that represents the total heat output of a heat pump, including the supplementary electric heat, as compared to the total electricity used during the same period. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heating performance of the heat pump. New units in the United States must have HSPF ratings from 7.0 to 9.4.

    High-efficiency systems are designed and engineered to operate more efficiently than their standard-efficiency counterparts. Some residential air conditioner and heat pumps models are now designed to reach 18 SEER, 9.5 HSPF performance, and natural gas furnaces are available with efficiency ratings up to 98%+ AFUE.

    The initial expense of a high-efficiency unit may be more cost more than a lower rated model. However, the lower monthly utility bill that may result from a new high-efficiency system often makes up for the initial price difference.6  This is especially true if you intend to use your new high-efficiency heating and cooling system for years to come.

    Not only may the additional energy-efficiency features help keep your monthly budget in check, but having a high-efficiency gas furnace, heat pump or air conditioner professionally installed may greatly improve your overall comfort level in your home. To learn about new technologies and available features that may help improve the energy efficiency of your home, talk to your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    3. Shut the Front Door!

     

    Installing high-efficient heating and cooling equipment is only one way to save on monthly utility bills. If other key home energy-efficient solutions are overlooked, your bill may still be higher than you would like. And, that could make you and your indoor air uncomfortable.

    Every gap, doorway, window seam, air duct or hole in the wall has the potential to leak your home’s heated or cooled air. The Department of Energy says that the average home air leaks can equal that of a two-foot hole!7 That’s like leaving a window open for 24-hours a day. Be sure to check out the weather stripping and caulking of those small areas where your comfortable indoor air can potentially escape.

    There are numerous influencers can contribute to your cost of indoor comfort including,

    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • HVAC installation
    • Heating and cooling system maintenance schedule
    • Construction methods and insulation values
    • Gaps in windows and doors

    To learn how your gas furnace, heat pump or air conditioner or HVAC system set up may be affecting your monthly utility bill, or want to learn ways to improve efficiency, talk to your licensed professional HVAC dealer today.

    Lower Utility bills with Amana

    1, 2 US Energy Information Administration, (2018, August). Electric Power Monthly. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from US Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_3
    3,5 Energy Star. "Ask the Expert, Breaking Down the Typical Utility Bill." 16 February 2016. https://www.energystar.gov/products/ask-the-expert/breaking-down-the-typical-utility-bill. 13 December 2017.
    4 Consumer Technology Association. "Press Release." 11 May 2015. Consumer Technology Association. https://www.cta.tech/News/Press-Releases/2015/May/Owning-Innovation-CEA-Study-Shows-Major-Shifts-in.aspx. 13 December 2017.
    6 Furnace and Boilers. n.d. http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers.
    7  Energy Saver 101: Home Energy Audits. n.d. https://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-energy-audits.

     
    Read More
  • Air Filters and MERV Ratings

    Air Filters and MERV

    When was the last time you changed the air filter in your heating and cooling system? You may have noticed that, over time, it becomes coated with “stuff.”  Your air filters may reveal a dirty little secret - the air you breathe may not be as fresh as you think!

     

    Dirt, Dust and Indoor Particulates

     

    Air filters are an essential part of the heating and cooling system intake ducting. Its designed to capture “particulates” before they get to your heating and cooling system. According to the EPA1, a basic air filter with a low Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (commonly known as MERV) may capture some of your home’s airborne particulates including, but not limited to:

    • Dust
    • Pollen
    • Animal dander 
    • Larger particles that contain dust mite and cockroach allergens

    Air filters are intended to minimize the debris landing on fan motors and heating or cooling coils. Routinely replacing the air filter as directed by the manufacturer’s guidelines can protect your HVAC equipment and may help your HVAC system from losing efficiency over time. A clogged air filter can increase your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%.2

     

    What is a MERV Rating?

     

    MERV  is short for ‘Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value’, and is number value that distinguishes the filtration ability of air filters installed in your HVAC system.3 The MERV numbering system may range from 1 to 20.  The higher the MERV number, the fewer particles and airborne contaminants that the filter should allow to pass to your HVAC equipment.

    Residential furnaces and air conditioners commonly use 1 to 4 MERV rated filters. The EPA says that basic mechanical air filters may not remove all particulates from the air.4 However, these filters may stop some of the larger particles from passing through to the HVAC equipment.

    If the MERV rating if higher, there is a better chance of trapping “bacteria, some spores, a significant fraction of cat and dog allergens, and a small portion of dust mite allergens.”5 The EPA suggests that filters with a higher MERV rating between 7 and 13 can be as nearly as effective as true HEPA filters. 

    However, some residential HVAC systems may not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate higher efficiency filters. Therefore, talk with your technician about your HVAC manufacturer’s recommended filter type before upgrading to higher MERV filters. Installing true HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters in an existing residential HVAC system typically requires professional modification of the system.

    If you are concerned about indoor pollutants and air quality, discuss possible solutions and products with your licensed or professional HVAC dealer.

    Make home comfortable with Amana

    1, 2 Guide to Indoor Air Cleaners in the Home. (2014, July). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-07/documents/aircleaners.pdf
    3 What Are MERV Ratings and How Do They Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from Air Purifier Guide: http://www.airpurifierguide.org/faq/merv-ratings
    4 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/residential-air-cleaners-second-edition-summary-available-information#summary
    5 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

    Read More
  • What to Know about Carbon Monoxide

    AmanaLC_14_Know_Carbon_Monoxide_Nov_2017

    When cold weather arrives, thermostats or control systems are switched from cool to heat. But homeowners rarely consider the condition of their gas furnace, its exhaust system, and how it might affect their living space.

    The Importance of Venting

     

    In general, newly constructed homes may be more energy efficient than homes built as recently as the early 2000’s.1 Innovative insulation options and products, tightly sealed air gaps, and construction methods often create a more energy efficient home. However, tight homes highlight the importance of proper venting for your central gas heating system. 

    When fossil fuels are burned in a gas furnace, exhaust gases are produced. Exhaust gases must be vented away from indoor spaces so they dp not circulate in the living spaces of your home. One of these exhaust gases that should be vented away from your living space is carbon monoxide. 

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, practically odorless, and tasteless gas or liquid.2

    As homes become more air tight, the pathways for these gases to escape can become limited. To be sure the gas furnace components and exhaust system are working properly by having a licensed professional HVAC contractor routinely inspect the system.

     

    The Facts

    • Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.3  
    • Carbon monoxide is responsible for more than 20,000 visits the emergency room, and more than 4,000 hospitalizations.3 
    • Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.3 

     

    Preventing Exhaust Buildup

    In a properly functioning and installed gas furnace, carbon monoxide gas is vented outside the home. 

    When fossil fuels are burned in your home, it is important that the exhaust gases be vented to a properly sized flue or venting system that eliminates them from indoor spaces. Gas furnaces are not the only source of carbon monoxide. “Carbon monoxide can be generated any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces.”4 

    The Center for Disease Control offers the following HVAC-related tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

    1. Hire a professional or licensed technician. Any gas, oil, or coal burning appliances, including your heating system, water heater, or fireplace should be routinely inspected by a qualified technician.5
    2. Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.5
    3. Have your chimney inspected or cleaned every year. Blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.5
    4. Do not block, close or patch a vent pipe. Only a licensed professional technician should evaluate and determine appropriate venting. Be aware of heavy snowfall that may block venting on roof or side wall.5
    5. Be sure to install a Carbon Monoxide Detector and replace batteries often.  The CDC suggests replacing your carbon monoxide detector every five years.5

     

    Carbon Monoxide Detection

    Be sure to install a Carbon Monoxide Detector and replace batteries often.  The CDC suggests replacing your carbon monoxide detector every five years.5

    “Half of all unintentional CO poisoning deaths could be prevented with the use of CO alarms.”6

    A functioning carbon monoxide detector can be a life saver if the gas is reaching the interior living spaces. However, the detector should only be used as a backup to properly maintaining your fuel burning appliances. The EPA has the following suggestions regarding carbon monoxide detectors:

    • Detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor or on the ceiling.6 
    • Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance.6 
    • Each floor needs a separate detector.6 
    • Place a detector near the sleeping area and make certain the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.6 
    • Regularly test and replace batteries.6 

     

    Reliable Amana brand indoor comfort

    1 Department of Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Top 4 Energy Department Inventions Saving You Energy & Money at Home: https://energy.gov/articles/top-4-energy-department-inventions-saving-you-energy-money-home
    2,4  What is Carbon Monoxide? (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://iaq.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212106787-What-is-Carbon-Monoxide-
    3,5 Carbon Monoxide. (n.d.). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm
    6 Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/pcmp_english_100-f-09-001.pdf

    Read More
  • What Does an Air Handler do?

    What is an Air Handler

    An air handler regulates the circulation of the heated or cooled indoor air to help reach the temperature that you have set on your thermostat or control system. Depending on the design of your home, an air handler may be a principal indoor component of your split heat pump system.

    When properly matched with your heat pump, the indoor air handler is designed to circulate conditioned air through your home’s ductwork efficiently.  Most often, air handlers are located in the attic, basement or a dedicated closet, and may closely resemble the shape of a gas furnace.

     

    Parts of an Air Handler

     

    Your air handler consists of an evaporator coil, blower motor, air filter and the electrical and electronic components required to deliver enhanced levels of indoor comfort.

    Coil:  The evaporator coil (indoor coil) is a crucial component of the refrigeration cycle. 

    • When you want cool air inside your home, the evaporator coil becomes cold through the refrigeration process and removes humidity as the indoor air passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel cooler throughout your home.
    • When you want warm air inside your home, the evaporator coil becomes warm by the reversed refrigeration process and transfers heat to the air that passes over it. This makes the conditioned air feel warmer throughout your home.

    Blower Motor: The blower moves the cooled or heated air to the connected ductwork to circulate it into your indoor spaces. The blower motor may be a single speed, multi-speed or variable speed model.

    • Single-speed: Operates at one, fixed speed. These motors are cycled on and off, as required by a thermostat or control system.1
    • Multi-speed:  Designed to operate at multiple speeds, depending on the demand. The multi-speed blower motor may run at 100% to meet a high-demand thermostat or control system setting. A low-stage demand will reduce the speed of the blower motor. This low speed may maintain reduced humidity levels, provide sustained comfort and be more energy-efficient than when used in a single-stage system.
    • Variable-speed: Varies the fan speeds to precisely control the flow of heated or cooled air throughout your home based on your indoor comfort requirements.  A variable speed motor can help control indoor humidity levels and achieve a consistent temperature in your home. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “variable-speed motor running continuously at a half speed uses up to 25% of the power to move the same amount of air.”2 

    Plenum Connections: Ductwork is connected to your air handler by a plenum to:

    1. “supply” or deliver the conditioned heated or cooled air to your interior spaces 
    2. “return” the air to the air handler that needs to be heated or cooled

    Filter: Before air enters your ductwork, it passes through an air filter. The filter is intended to minimize the number of particulates circulated throughout your home, accumulate in the duct work, and land on the indoor components of your heat pump system.

    Optional Electric Heat Strips: Provides an auxiliary, electric heating option when conditions arise that require activation.

     

    The Cycle of Handling Air

    In coordination with your HVAC system’s ductwork, the air handler simultaneously creates a recurring cycle, delivering air out to your indoor spaces through supply vents and drawing air in through the return vents.  Even if your air handler is properly sized with your outdoor heat pump, a licensed professional HVAC dealer should ensure that the air supply and movement through the air handler are balanced. 

    According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a mismatched heat pump and air handler may be at least 30% less energy-efficient than matched systems.3 Homeowners should keep this efficiency loss in mind when they are considering replacing only the outdoor unit portion of their split system.

    An inadequate amount of air flow in the supply vents, return vents or ductwork may reduce the HVAC system’s balance which can potentially cheat you out of your equipment’s efficiency and sacrifice your indoor comfort. This is one of the many reasons why proper installation by a licensed professional HVAC dealer matters to your HVAC equipment’s longevity, energy costs, and indoor comfort.

    Amana brand heating and cooling

    1, 2 Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Variable-speed, low-cost motor for residential HVAC systems. n.d. https://energy.gov/eere/amo/variable-speed-low-cost-motor-residential-hvac-systems. 1 May 2017.
    3 AHRI. HVACR Replacement Guidance. 15 January 2013. http://www.ahrinet.org/Contractors-Specifiers/HVACR-Replacement-Guidance.aspx. 12 April 2017.

    Read More
  • Get the Facts: BUSTED Air Conditioner Myths!

    AC Facts

    1. MYTH: The bigger the air conditioner, the more comfortable I will feel in my home!

    BUSTED: Oversized air conditioners may create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house reaches the desired temperature. This “cycling” may affect your indoor comfort level, influence your overall energy costs, and end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit.

    An air conditioner should be sized for your specific home by a professional HVAC technician. It is not unusual for an air conditioner to operate using long on and off cycles. In fact, this is preferred for energy-efficient performance and humidity removal. However, when a unit is not sized and installed correctly, it may cycle on and off quite frequently. This situation may not allow the unit to operate as efficiently as it was designed and indoor comfort is risked because the unit cannot remove enough humidity. While you may think that a bigger unit would seem to offer powerful cooling performance, a unit sized properly is the best option for long-term durability and comfort.

     

    2. MYTH: I should have the refrigerant ‘topped off’ every year.

    BUSTED: Refrigerant flows through a closed system. The refrigerant charge, which directly affects the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner, should exactly match the manufacturer's specification.1 Refrigerant should not be undercharged nor overcharged.

    Today, there are two basic types of refrigerant.

    • R-22 is currently being phased out of use. This chlorine-containing refrigerant was a very common refrigerant for many years.
    • R-410A is the refrigerant that is used in all new air conditioner units. It’s chlorine free and supports higher levels of heat transfer that help the energy efficiency level of the unit.

    You cannot mix one refrigerant into a unit that uses the other refrigerant. In fact, Ask your licensed professional HVAC dealer for help regarding the refrigerant in your central air conditioner.

     

    3. MYTH: If I set the thermostat or control system to an extremely cold temperature, the house will cool faster!

    BUSTED: Most HVAC systems’ airflow cools at a set temperature point. Once the system starts, it will reach the designated temperature sometime after that.2 Temperature settings on a thermostat or control system do not equate to the speed of cooling. 

     

    4. MYTH: I should turn off my air conditioner when I leave the house!

    BUSTED: Turning off your HVAC system when leaving the house may create problems that lead to additional expenses. It may not be the money-saving option you think. Your air conditioner plays a vital role in humidity management, a key component in minimizing indoor air quality issues. Additionally, if temperatures become extreme during your absence, it may take your system a long time to restore a comfortable temperature upon your return.

     

    5. MYTH: The location of my thermostat of control system isn’t important. 


    BUSTED: The location of your thermostat or control system can affect your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency. The device should be installed on an interior wall of your home with limited exposure to direct sunlight, drafts, doorway, skylights, and windows.3

     

    6. MYTH: I should close the vents in select rooms in my home to save money.

    BUSTED: A properly installed HVAC system is sized and balanced according to the specific amount of air that needs to circulate in your home. Closing vents may throw off the balance of your system and impact the air distribution, making the rest of the house uncomfortable.4

    Before closing vents, discuss concerns with your licensed or professional HVAC dealer.  Since each HVAC system set up is site-specific, a dealer should be able to help you decide whether certain vents can be closed to reduce the amount of space in your home that is being cooled.

     

    7. MYTH: Routine air conditioner maintenance does not affect its efficiency.

    BUSTED: To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, you should schedule routine maintenance for detailed check-ups. Licensed professional HVAC technicians are equipped to identify airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential concerns that may impact efficiency. Routine maintenance may often prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time and possibly extend the life of your HVAC equipment.

     

    8. MYTH: Price should be the deciding factor when purchasing an air conditioner.

    BUSTED: There are many factors to consider when purchasing a new air conditioner. The base model may not always be the best choice based on your specific comfort needs and anticipated length of time you will be in your current home. Enhanced energy savings of high-efficiency equipment can result in real, tangible returns when compared to your old unit or today’s base-efficiency models. Labor costs can also vary depending on the complexity of the installation, the quality of your existing ductwork and any regulations that may influence how much a new, energy efficient fully installed cooling system will cost.

     

    9. MYTH: Purchasing an energy-efficient air conditioner will not save you in energy costs.

    BUSTED: High SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) air conditioners typically cost less to run than their lower SEER counterparts under the same conditions. However, multiple variables play into the energy costs associated with air conditioning use. Correct equipment sizing, sealed ducts, filter cleanliness and your home’s energy efficiency contributes to the overall expense of cooling your home.

    A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is not installed correctly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!5  “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.5

     

    10. MYTH: My house is clean, so I don’t need to change my air filters.

    BUSTED: According to the Department of Energy, replacing a clogged air filter with a clean one may help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%. Dirty filters block airflow and can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. Depending on your HVAC manufacturer’s suggestions, a filter may need a replacement every 30-90 days.  Check your filter’s instructions for recommended replacement dates.  Also, depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner runs can affect how often you should replace your filters. Your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.6



    Find an Amana brand Dealer

    1 Department of Energy. Common Air Conditioner Problems. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/common-air-conditioner-problems. 28 March 2017.
    2 ENERGY STAR. Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/programmable_thermostats/proper_use_guidelines. 27 March 2017.
    3 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.
    4 ENERGY STAR. Does it help to close vents in rooms not being used during the day? n.d. https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211439388-Does-it-help-to-close-vents-in-rooms-not-being-used-during-the-day-. 28 March 2017.
    5 Domanski, Piotr A, Hugh I. Henderson and W. Vance Payne. "Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance." October 2014. <http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf>.
    6 Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling. n.d. https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-cooling.

    Read More
  • What Impacts Air Conditioner Efficiency and Performance?

    Impacts on AC efficiency

    Have you ever noticed that an estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG) on a car has two estimates – a city MPG and a highway MPG. Why? It may be because a vehicle’s actual fuel economy can vary depending on driving conditions and operational factors. 

    The same goes for your air conditioner’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) stated on the system components. If the installation or usage varies from the standard testing conditions1, the performance and efficiency of an air conditioner may be impacted.

     

    The Split System Match Game

     

    Similar to an automobile’s standardized MPG testing, an air conditioner’s efficiency is tested within set laboratory conditions with properly matched system components. Manufacturers identify a unit’s SEER value through standardized testing and algorithms prescribed by the Department of Energy.2 The separate elements of your split cooling system must be compatible and in proper working condition to function at the certified SEER level in your home.

    According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), “Improperly matched indoor and outdoor units can create undue stress on a cooling system, dramatically reducing efficiency.”3 AHRI suggests that mismatched systems are at least 30 percent less efficient than matched systems.”4

    The AHRI’s free Directory of Certified Product Performance provides public information regarding certified reference numbers, SEER ratings, and compatible equipment. A licensed professional HVAC contractor can provide you with a Certified Reference Number or a Certificate of Certified Product Performance to verify a matching system and its SEER rating. If you are considering replacing just the outdoor portion of your cooling system, often referred to as the condenser, be sure to discuss compatibility and efficiency rating with your HVAC contractor.

     

    Energy Costs and Efficiency Ratings

     

    Even if your HVAC components are compatible, a high-efficiency air conditioner is just one aspect to efficient operation. Standards dictate that higher SEER air conditioning units be more energy-efficient than lower SEER units. Yet, when your cooling system is not being maintained as recommended or simple home energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like.

    To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, a licensed professional HVAC dealer should perform routine maintenance services. During an inspection, your dealer may identify any airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential concerns that could impact your system from operating at peak performance. 

    Professional HVAC maintenance services may include the following actions to keep your cooling system at peak performance:

    • Checking for adequate air flow
    • Looking over outdoor condenser coil  and indoor evaporator coils
    • Checking outside and inside refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
    • Inspecting indoor drain lines and pans
    • Checking external and internal electrical connections
    • Checking operation of indoor blower components
    • Lubricating internal and external motors, bearings and other moving parts
    • Inspecting Exterior Fan

     

    Homeowners should also keep in mind additional conditions that may impact energy costs. These factors can influence the ability of your cooling system to perform at its designed efficiency level. Some conditions include, but are not limited to:

    • Improper system installation
    • Thermostat or control system location or settings
    • Undersized or leaking ductwork
    • Inadequate level of insulation and non-insulated construction methods
    • Leaking or drafty windows and doors
    • Dirty or improperly installed air filters

     

    The Future of Energy Efficiency

     

    Innovative technology and the push for higher energy-efficiency has played a big role in the transformation, effectiveness, and popularity of higher efficiency cooling systems. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy changed from a national minimum SEER standard to regional standards. Currently, the minimum SEER values for air conditioners depends on location and ranges from 13 or 14 SEER.

    Yet, air conditioner manufacturers continue to pursue individual technologies that collectively may improve overall cooling system efficiency. Advancements, including refrigerant, variable-speed drives, advanced thermostats and control systems, and additional mechanics that simplify installation may continue to impact the energy costs associated with cool, indoor comfort.

    To discover current HVAC technologies available that may improve the energy efficiency of your home, discuss the various options and potential cost saving with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    AC Efficiency

    1 Environment Protection Agency. Vehicle and Fiel Emissions Testing. n.d. https://www.epa.gov/vehicle-and-fuel-emissions-testing. 18 April 2017.
    2 Department of Energy. Appliance and Equipment Standards Rulemakings and Notices. n.d. https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/standards.aspx?productid=48&action=viewlive. 18 April 2017.
    3,4 AHRI. HVACR Replacement Guidance. 15 January 2013. http://www.ahrinet.org/Contractors-Specifiers/HVACR-Replacement-Guidance.aspx. 12 April 2017.

     
    Read More
  • Air Conditioner Sounds

    Air Conditioner sounds

    You may have heard that silence is golden! However, something is comforting about the soft hum of an air conditioner in the warm summer months. But, if you have recently upgraded your air conditioner and are enjoying the benefits of quieter HVAC system operation, you may notice some new sounds that weren’t so obvious before — especially the sound of your neighbor’s air conditioner!

    Even a whisper can seem loud when you are in a library! If your new energy efficient air conditioning system operates at a sound level that is lower than your previous heating and cooling system, you may be more aware of surrounding sounds! The noise of your old unit may have covered up the sounds from your neighbors HVAC system making it seem like the neighbor’s unit got louder!

     

    The Various Sounds of Indoor Comfort

     

    When an air conditioning system turns ON, it creates sound. If the thermostat or control system detects that your home needs to cool down, a single-stage air conditioning system will turn on at full power. A single-stage system moves the conditioned air at one consistent speed. When the thermostat or control system reaches the set temperature, the whole system shuts down as quickly as it started.

    A two-stage air conditioning system is designed to operate lower and higher speed options, minimizing the effect of full ON  or  OFF cycling compared to single speed units. Two-speed and variable speed systems do tend to run longer because they were engineered to maintain consistent indoor comfort at the lower speed. This may also reduce the ON/OFF noise when compared to a single stage unit because it cycles less often.

    A variable speed unit can adjust output levels at various speeds depending on the thermostat or control system settings. These systems tend to run for more extended periods but at a lower capacity to maintain indoor comfort.

     

    Listen Up!

     

    An air conditioner’s sporadic  ON/OFF cycle may catch your attention when you are outside. But, if an air conditioner’s soft hum amplifies into something else, you may want to take notice.

    Air conditioning components are designed and engineered to contribute to the efficient transfer of heat and movement of cool, conditioned air. As a result, there are lots of sound-producing moving parts! Yet, when a component’s intended function is compromised, an air conditioner’s hum may turn into a buzzing roar, clatter or squeal.  If you discover a significant change in sounds, it may be a signal to contact a licensed professional HVAC dealer for an inspection.

    In an air conditioner, a rattling sound may indicate that the fan blade may need an adjustment or be cleaned of debris. Changes in the particular sound coming from an air conditioner may indicate:

    • Loose parts, bearings or motor components
    • Dirt or debris is interfering with proper operation
    • A specific part is out of balance
    • Bearings need lubrication
    • Piping to the inside is rubbing against an object
    • Coils need to be cleaned
    • Air filter needs to be changed
    • An issue with the compressor

     

    Get into a Maintenance Rhythm

     

    Communicating new sounds to a licensed professional HVAC contractor may help them determine a probable cause and a potential fix. Regular maintenance may ward off some noise-inducing malfunctions, potentially reducing the cooling emergencies and helping extend the life of your system. While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may include the inspection of sound producing elements, as well as:

    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Inspect refrigerant lines
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Inspect exterior fan and lubricate moving parts
    • Check and tighten any loose electrical connections
    • Inspect system controls
    • Replace parts that are showing wear and tear

     

    What’s that Sound?

     

    An air condition system is intentionally sized and installed to move a specific amount of air. When unusual sounds come from the room vents, it may indicate a pressure imbalance between the air drawn into the system and cooled, conditioned air flowing into the indoor spaces.

    If the air filter or supply vents are blocked, there is an issue with the intake ductwork, or if too many registers are closed off, the pressure and the speed of the air may change, possibly increasing the sound level.  If unusual noises are coming from the vents where the conditioned air is blown into a room, ductwork should be inspected by a licensed professional HVAC dealer. Debris in the ductwork or loose or ill-fitting ducts may echo sounds through the vents into living spaces.

    A professional or licensed HVAC dealer should inspect the air conditioning system to determine if proper air flow is being compromised.  

     Amana brand Indoor Comfort
    Read More
  • The Basic, Programmable, and Smart Thermostat

    Types of Thermostats

    Not too long ago, homeowners like you had to adjust their indoor temperature by opening windows or fueling fires. Luckily, indoor temperature control has evolved. Today, it is hard to imagine a modern home without a device to set the desired indoor temperature. 

    Below highlights the differences between the basic, programmable and smart thermostat or control system for your heating and cooling system.

     

    The Basic Thermostat

     

    The basic thermostat is designed to turn on the central heating and cooling system at one temperature and off at another. A basic thermostat may offer homeowners three essential switches that include:

    1. A HEAT and COOL switch
    2. An ON, OFF or AUTO fan switch
    3. A means to increase or decrease the temperature settings
       

    While these options provide critical heating and cooling system functionality, additional features may be required depending on your specific HVAC equipment. For example, a thermostat for a heat pump should include an option for auxiliary heat. The auxiliary heat switch activates the air handler’s (the most common inside component of a heat pump system) heat strips to turn on to supplement the output.

     

    The Programmable Thermostat

     

    The sophistication level of indoor temperature control was elevated with the introduction of the programmable thermostat. Although some early programmable thermostats could be challenging to program, newer models were designed to be more intuitive and easier to operate.

    With the programmable thermostat, homeowners can align their temperature preferences with their lifestyle and schedules. Preprogramming temperatures can create an indoor environment that makes occupants most comfortable and potentially save homeowners money in the process. A programmable thermostat or control system can save you as much as $180 every year in energy costs when properly programmed.1

    If you need assistance with determining setpoints times and temperatures, ENERGY STAR® suggests the following:2

    Energy Efficient Temperature Settings 

     

    The Smart Thermostat or Control System

     

    Intelligent heating and cooling devices are becoming more commonly accepted as homeowners continue to look to technology to connect their smartphones, lives, and homes. The smart thermostat or control system designs may vary, but these devices may:3

    • Provide the option of utilizing a smartphone or home automation device to control indoor temperature and humidity settings.
    • Learn your temperature preferences and establish a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures based this learned behavior.
    • Know when you are on the way home based on the location of your smartphone and automatically adjust your home’s temperature to your liking.
    • Enter a low-power standby mode when inactive.

    In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the ENERGY STAR® specifications for smart thermostats. According to ENERGY STAR®, it was challenging to identify household thermostats that save energy because of the disparities of how an individual or family ultimately sets the temperature4 But Abi Daken, Program Manager for ENERGY STAR® HVAC products, said, “Anyone who cares about energy savings but is too busy to think about their heating and cooling use can be assured that these products have shown they help other busy families."5

    When integrated with popular voice-controlled home automated devices, homeowners now have the option of even more sophisticated indoor temperature control than with previous programmable thermostats. For example, both the Amazon Echo and Google Home integrate with the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort App to provide advanced inter-connectivity and voice control ability.

    Even without dedicated smart devices, homeowners may be able to control certain models of smart thermostats or control systems directly through their smartphone and/or tablet app. When a compatible smart thermostat or control system is installed, a coordinating app may be able to remotely monitor and manage home comfort, and possibly energy use anytime, anywhere. 

    In the near future, a thermostat or control system mounted on a home’s wall may not even be necessary. Advancements in technology may allow your heating and cooling system to communicate directly with your smart phone or app. The evolution of a home without a thermostat or control system may be just around the corner. 

    I want indoor comfort

    1 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.
    2 "A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling." August 2009. Energy Star. <https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf>.
    3 ENERGY STAR®. Certified Products. 2017. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/smart_thermostats. 27 March 2017.
    4, 5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ENERGY STAR® Ends the Thermostat Wars by Introducing FIrst-Ever Smart Thermostat Specification. 1 March 2017. <https://www.energystar.gov/about/content/energy_star_ends_thermostat_wars_introducing_first_ever_smart_thermostat_specification>.

    Read More
  • The Heating and Cooling Tune Up: Before, During and After HVAC Equipment Service

    A6_expect_service_call

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

    Before the HVAC Technician Visit


    Do you know what HVAC 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 HVAC 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.

    HVAC Equipment Routine Maintenance

    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.

    Find an Amana brand dealer

    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

    Amana® is a registered trademark of Maytag Corporation or its related companies and is used under license.  All rights reserved.

    Read More
  • Why Do-it-Yourself HVAC is a Bad Idea!

    DIY_HVAC_is _Bad_Idea

    Completing a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) project may give you a sense of accomplishment but not all projects should be DIY!  You may be able to paint a room, create home decor, or even change the oil in your car. However, only licensed professional HVAC dealers should install or repair your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system!

     

    The “How to…” Video

     

    YouTube’s videos can be a great source of entertainment or information. However, “How to…” videos may lead homeowners to believe they can undertake jobs that should be left to experts. This is especially true when working with heating and cooling equipment. Only a licensed professional HVAC dealer should install, repair or perform maintenance on your HVAC system.

    Creating the comfortable indoor temperature you set on your thermostat or control system is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and engineered mechanics. As a result, a professionally trained expert is crucial for a quality heating or cooling system installation or repair.

     

    Required Qualifications and Skills

     

    Residential HVAC systems are complex systems with many components. Dealers often have years of training before they become experts in residential indoor comfort systems. In some locations, HVAC contractors must register for a professional HVAC license and/or pass tests for applicable certifications.

    As new products and technologies are introduced into the heating and cooling industry, licensed professional HVAC technicians often receive specialized training. When a homeowner wants to incorporate the latest equipment, parts or technology into their home’s current HVAC configurations, modifications may be required. This requires expertise! Additionally, most HVAC manufacturers offer HVAC dealers ongoing training opportunities to keep up with the latest innovations.

     

    Just Say “NO” to DIY HVAC

     

    The unlicensed heating and cooling DIY’er does not have the industry-specific knowledge, resources, or skills that are available to HVAC professionals!

    Installation or repair without licensed or professional HVAC technician may lead to damaged equipment, compromised system efficiency, and voided warranties.  The following are a few reasons why NOT to take on DIY HVAC: 

    Experience and professional requirements: It is essential that your local HVAC dealer be experienced, qualified, and backs their work. Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training.  Be sure you are working with a licensed professional who is willing to provide a limited warranty for their work and products installed. Doing the job correctly the first time may help eliminate the need for repeat visits, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance. However, a license may not reflect actual installation expertise.

    Refrigerant: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release ozone-depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques. Individuals cannot buy refrigerants without the appropriate EPA 608 Certification. Unless you have this certification, do not attempt to handle air condition coolants.

    Ventilation Requirements: National, regional and local HVAC codes and manufacturers installation guidelines may have specific ventilation requirements for HVAC equipment. Your local licensed or professional HVAC contractor should have sufficient knowledge in HVAC safety code in your particular area.

    Electricity: There can be shocking consequences when homeowners start working with their home’s electrical components. According to 2016 National Fire Protection Agency statistics1, an estimated 48,000 home structure fires caused by electrical problems were reported to U.S. fire departments. Handling the wiring and electrical needs of HVAC equipment requires a trained electrician or skilled technician.  

    Gases: Natural gas is the most common type of home heating fuel. It provides nearly 57% of American homes with heat.2 However, it is critical that a license or professional HVAC technician properly install or repair gas heating systems per manufacturer specifications.

     

    It’s All About the Details

     

    Proper HVAC operation is a delicate balancing act. Licensed professional HVAC dealers should be trained in necessary and precise calculations such as volumes, loads, weight, flow rate, and more. If one or more variables are out of sync, the entire system’s operation and your indoor comfort may suffer.  An experienced HVAC technician has the necessary tools required to calculate the right sized unit for your home, and ensure each calculation and measurement pertains to your specific HVAC needs.

    HVAC systems are significant investments in your home. While DIY may seem like a good idea for your wallet, the long-term consequences may end up costing you for many years to come. Do-it-Yourself HVAC is a bad idea!


    Find an Amana Dealer

    1 News Releases, NFPA emphasizes importance of electrical fire safety during National Electrical Safety Month. (2016, May 3). Retrieved from National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/news-and-media/press-room/news-releases/2016/nfpa-emphasizes-importance-of-electrical-fire-safety-during-national-electrical-safety-month
    2 Energy saver 101: Home Heating. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.Gov: https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-heating

    Read More
  • Cost Saving Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

    A1_cost_saving_maintenance_tips

    Taking care of your air conditioner before cooling season and between scheduled professional maintenance may sustain cooling performance, save money on energy costs, and provide the best returns on your investment. But the real savings comes from properly maintaining your system to minimize unexpected service calls and extend the life of your air conditioner! 

    Your air conditioner is an investment in home comfort. It provides a cool, comfortable environment for you and your family. Protecting that investment is essential and requires simple, periodic care! Luckily, there are a few basic, air conditioner maintenance tasks that you can tackle on your own between professional maintenance visits. 

    Below are some routine maintenance tips that you can do to help get the best performance possible from your air conditioner.1

     

    AC Maintenance for Homeowners

     

    You should always consult with your professional licensed HVAC contractor to determine the suggested AC maintenance tasks for your home's system. 

    Replace the Air Filter: A dirty filter blocks airflow. It can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. Your HVAC air filters should be replaced per the manufacturer’s recommendation, but the schedule may also depend on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates. Your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your AC equipment.

    According to Energy.gov, changing out a clogged filter with a clean one can help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%.1 If the air condition portion of your energy bill equals $100, you may save an average of up to $15 per month just by replacing the dirty filters!  

    Inspect the Outside AC Equipment: Air circulation is essential for the outdoor condenser coil to run efficiently. Be sure to cut back foliage and remove any debris, fallen leaves, or grass trimmings that have collected around your outdoor unit. A reduction in airflow may make your air condition system work harder, reduce its performance, and can cost you money.

    Examine Fins: The fins on your evaporator or condenser coils should be straight. Bent fins can reduce or block airflow, restricting the efficient operation of your cooling system. Bent fins can also lead to premature coil failure.2 If you see that unit’s fins are bent, contact your local HVAC professional contractor or technician.

    Check Condensate Drains: A condensate drain line may be located near the outside unit. The drain is typically a small PVC pipe; however, some drain lines may be copper. If you see a consistent drip from your condensate drain on a hot day, it is most likely working properly. When condensate drains are clogged, the unit may not be able to properly reduce indoor humidity which can affect your indoor comfort and equipment performance. 

    Thermostat Batteries: Your thermostat or HVAC control system may be powered by batteries. You should replace the batteries as dictated by the “low battery” signal or when you routinely change out your fire/CO2 detector batteries. At a minimum, your thermostat or control system batteries should be replaced annually.2

     

    Professional AC Maintenance

     

    You have a big part to play in the maintenance of your air conditioner, however your equipment should always be professionally serviced prior to the cooling season. Professional or licensed HVAC dealers perform a more detailed check-up and are better equipped to identify airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential failure concerns.

    While each HVAC dealer has their own annual air conditioning maintenance process, professional services may likely include the following actions:

    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Look over condenser and evaporator coils
    • Check refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Check electrical connections
    • Check operation of blower components
    • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
    • Inspect Exterior Fan

    Your simple efforts, combined with professional HVAC maintenance, may help keep your air conditioning system operating at peak performance levels and help reduce energy costs.
     

    Amana brand Air Conditioners

    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 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
    2 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

    Read More
  • Three Good Reasons to Replace a Gas Furnace

    A8_three_reasons

    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.


    Amana brand Gas Furnaces

    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

    Read More
  • Reasons to Upgrade and Replace your Air Conditioner

    A10_reasons_upgrade_replace_ac

    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. 

    Amana brand Air Conditioners

    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>
    .

    Read More
  • Seasonal Heating and Cooling System Maintenance: A Homeowner's HVAC Guide

    preseason HVAC maintenance

     

    No matter what the weather, you want to be sure that your HVAC system will be ready for that switch from ‘heat to cool’ or ‘cool to heat’. No one likes the uncomfortable consequences of an HVAC situation on coldest or hottest weekend of the year! Seasonal HVAC maintenance may often ward off many of the unexpected problems that can pop up with these indoor comfort systems.

    1. Why Pre-Season Maintenance is Important?

    HVAC systems operate to meet your desired indoor temperature setting.  Yet, the process of creating and maintaining the temperature on your thermostat or control system is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Proper HVAC maintenance can help maintain this balance despite the system’s consistent starting and stopping, and on-demand operation. 

    Seasonal preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling system may guard against many unexpected failures and could maximize the life cycle of your heating or cooling unit.1 Preseason inspections may uncover leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires and/or corroded electrical contacts on your air conditioner or heat pump that can lead to bigger equipment failures if left untreated.

    Proper maintenance may also keep your system running at peak performance levels.  “Effective maintenance can reduce HVAC energy costs by 5 to 40 percent depending on the system or equipment involved.”2

    2. When do I Schedule Seasonal Maintenance?

     

    Homeowners should consider scheduling seasonal HVAC maintenance prior to peak heating and cooling seasons. Depending on your location, this may mean in the early spring for cooling maintenance and early autumn for heating. Heating and cooling technicians are often in high demand when the heat of summer or cold, bone-chilling weather takes hold. 

    Many HVAC dealers offer preseason specials on maintenance or inspection packages during their typical slow times of the year. These deals may save you money on the initial visit and additional required maintenance work.

    3. What does HVAC Seasonal Maintenance Include?

     

    There is no industry standard for what is included in an HVAC preseason “tune-up,” so specific work may vary greatly from contractor to contractor and location to location. Preseason specials may not include all of the suggested maintenance recommend by your system’s manufacturer(s). As a result, it’s important to understand what maintenance your system will be receiving, and the total cost for the job.

    Depending on the agreement, your HVAC technician may perform a complete system check that includes inspection and necessary cleaning of HVAC equipment, parts and components. Be sure you understand what you are getting in your season maintenance package!

    Air conditioning system maintenance may include, but is not limited to:

    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspecting system controls
    • Cleaning and inspecting coils
    • Lubricating moving parts
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Cleaning or replacing filters
    • Cleaning and checking blowers and fans
    • Checking refrigerant and pressures
    • Verifying operating temperatures

     

    Gas furnace system maintenance may include, but is not limited to:

    • Tightening electrical connections
    • Inspect piping for leaks or cracks
    • Cleaning and checking blowers and fans
    • Inspect and clean gas burners
    • Examine ignition switch
    • Inspect heat exchanger
    • Inspect and clean flue
    • Replacing parts that are showing wear and tear
    • Inspecting system controls

     

    4. Do My Ducts Need Inspected?

     

    Ducts are an important part of your entire HVAC system and shouldn’t be ignored. 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 poorly connected ducts.3 This misdirected airflow can sacrifice your indoor comfort and may increase your energy usage. Although it may not be included with a seasonal maintenance package, your licensed professional technician can inspect your ductwork.

    Filtration technology has made significant advances in residential air filters over the past decade, but dust may still find its way into your home's ducts. If you are concerned about indoor air quality issues, the culprit could be dirty ductwork. After a ductwork inspection, your technician may recommend duct cleaning, sealing or specialized indoor air quality accessories.

    1 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. n.d. <http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner>.
    2 Studies Show: HVAC System Maintenance Saves Energy. September 2011. http://www.buildingefficiencyinitiative.org/articles/studies-show-hvac-system-maintenance-saves-energy. February 2017.
    3 Duct Sealing - ENERGY STAR. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_ducts. February 2017.


    cta_14

    Read More
  • The Air Conditioning Repair Service Call

    Air Conditioner Repair Call

    You depend on your air conditioner to provide, cool conditioned air to your indoor spaces.  While these systems are often reliable and dependable, issues can creep up that sacrifice your indoor comfort. If your home starts to become hot and humid, it’s time to make that dreaded urgent service call to your local license professional HVAC dealer.

    Before the HVAC Technician Arrives

     

    Before making the urgent service call, you should do some simple detective work on the symptoms of your air conditioning system.  It’s often helpful if the technician understands your concerns before they arrive at your home. 


    The three most common calls related to air conditioners are:1

    • AC unit turns on but isn’t cooling properly
    • AC unit isn’t turning on
    • Air flow velocity is reduced

    If possible, you should locate and write down the manufacturer name and model number of the equipment from your initial bill of sale so it is immediately available to the technician upon their arrival at your home. If this information is not available from your paperwork, a homeowner should not attempt to open any equipment in order to access this information. If your air conditioning system is covered by a limited warranty, be certain to tell your HVAC technician.

    Minimize Air Conditioning Problems

     

    Maintaining a comfortable and consistent temperature in your home is a delicate balancing act between the air conditioning equipment, air flow, and mechanics. If one or more components are not functioning as designed, the entire system may be affected. As a result, your indoor comfort may be compromised! 


    In order to understand the air conditioning language used by your technician, it may be helpful to learn How an Air Conditioner Works, and a few key parts of your cooling system.

    The Department of Energy (DOE)2 highlights a few of the most common air conditioning problems that your HVAC technician may discover. If cool air isn’t blowing or you air conditioner won’t turn on, your air conditioner technician may inspect one of more of the following:

    Refrigerant: Low or leaking refrigerant will reduce the cooling capacity or your air conditioner. If there is an issue with the refrigerant, your technician may attempt to identify and repair the leak and recharge the system. NOTE: An air conditioner is not designed to consume refrigerant.

    Thermostat or Control System: Dead batteries in a thermostat or control system may prevent your unit from turning on. If the unit turns on but isn’t cooling properly, your technician may perform a test to ensure it is set properly and that it is reading the correct temperatures.

    Electric and Electronic Controls: If the unit is not operating, the compressor, fan controls or capacitor could be worn out or electric connections may have been affected by the system’s consistent starting and stopping, and on-demand operation.

    Condensate Drainage: If the unit isn’t cooling properly, the technician may check condensate drains to be sure they are not clogged.

    Air Filters: Clogged air filters can restrict airflow and decrease your air conditioner’s ability to remove humidity from the indoor air effectively. 

    Ductwork: Leaking, constricted or clogged ductwork can interfere or even cut off conditioned air from getting to your indoor living spaces.

    Your licensed professional HVAC technician may suggest replacing your air conditioner rather than repairing it if they discover a costly repair issue on an aging unit. While there are a lot of variables in determining whether an air conditioner should be repaired or replaced, your contractor can provide the best guidance because they understand the details associated with your particular system.

    Follow Up

     

    Routine maintenance can be a big part of maximizing the longevity and efficiency of your air conditioner. It is as important as taking your car to a mechanic for oil changes! If an extended service agreement is not already in place, technicians may often offer to set up a maintenance plan 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.3



    1, 2 Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-cooling
    3 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

    cta_14
    Read More
  • What is Variable Speed Technology?

    Variable Speed HVAC

    Did you know that if you have had the same Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system since 2006 your operational costs may have increase nearly 21%.  Why? Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the average retail price of electricity has increased from 10.40¢ per Kilowatt in 2006 to 12.55¢ per Kilowatt hour in 2016.1

    So, how can you stay comfortable in your home and spend less on your cooling and heating costs? The answer may lie with a variable speed technology central heating and cooling system!

     

    What is Variable Speed Technology?

     

    Variable speed technology enables HVAC equipment to precisely adjust its output or capacity according to your home’s temperature demand. Unlike a single-speed or single-stage HVAC system that turns ON at 100% then OFF, equipment with variable speed technology may use less energy because it is designed with the option to operate at lower capacity levels.2

    When an HVAC system has a variable speed compressor and/or fan motor, you may be able to spend less on utility costs without sacrificing your indoor comfort level.

     

    Variable Speed Compressor Technology

     

    Variable speed is often used to describe the type of compressor in your air conditioner or heat pump. The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning or heat pump system, creating the cooling capacity for your system.

    This feature allows for various levels of output depending on your cooling demands — full capacity for very hot days (or cold days if running the heating mode of a heat pump) or reduced capacity for milder days. Variable speed compressors may allow a unit to run at virtually any speed between 30% and 100% to provide the most energy efficient method to meet the temperature on your thermostat or control system. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a single-speed unit.

     

    Variable Speed Fan Motor Technology

     

    Variable speed technology can also apply to the type of blower motor located in the air handler or gas furnace. A variable speed blower motor can operate at various speeds to precisely control the amount of airflow throughout your home. In the winter, a variable speed blower motor may alleviate the “cold air blow” you feel when a single speed furnaces or air handler begins turns on at 100%.

    According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, a variable-speed motor running continuously at a half speed may use up to 75% less power that a single-stage motor uses to move the same amount of air.3

     

    Variable Speed Eases Cycling

     

    The electricity usage of a heating or cooling system typically peaks when a unit turns ON at 100%. A single-speed HVAC system turns ON at 100% capacity, then stays there until it reaches your preset indoor thermostat or control system temperature and then turns OFF. 

    Variable speed technology allows for a more consistent path to indoor comfort. It often reduces the number of start/stop cycles associated with single speed equipment which may reduce the potential peak draw on your home's electrical service needs. Once your HVAC system reaches the desired indoor temperature, the variable option precisely adjusts to the less demanding environment, minimizing the capacity required to maintain that temperature compared to a single-speed system. It’s like riding your bike uphill, then leveling off on a flat road to the finish line — it requires less demand than the hill-laden route.

     

    Added Benefits of Variable Speed Technology

     

    A variable speed system may run longer than your traditional HVAC system, but at a level that requires less energy. This slow and steady operation offers some additional comfort benefits when compared to a single speed unit.

    • Consistency of Indoor Comfort – Variable speed technology may minimize the temperature swings often found with single-stage equipment. Rather than shutting down, the variable capacity prolongs the set temperature of your spaces. This allows for steady and consistent comfort in your home.
    • Dehumidification – The longer a cooling system runs, the more moisture might be removed from the indoor air. This may improve the balance between temperature and humidity, providing you with more comfortable interior air.
    • Filtering of Indoor Air – The extended run time at lower speeds allows more time for the indoor air to circulate and interact with filters or additional air quality system components. However, as with traditional systems, it is important to change out your filters according to your HVAC dealer or manufacturer’s recommendation. 

    If you are concerned about your rising utility bill but don’t want to sacrifice your indoor comfort, you may want to consider a heating and cooling with variable speed technology. Talk to your licensed professional HVAC dealer to see if a variable speed system is right for your home. 

    Amana brand Heating and Cooling

    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
    2,3 Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (n.d.). Variable-speed, low-cost motor for residential HVAC systems. Retrieved May 1, 2017, from US Department of Energy: https://energy.gov/eere/amo/variable-speed-low-cost-motor-residential-hvac-systems

     
    Read More
  • The Refrigerant Evolution from R-22 to R-410A

    Air Conditioner Refrigerant

    For centuries, scientists, inventors, and outside-the-box thinkers have been trying to manipulate substances to alter the temperature of the indoors!

    The Refrigerant Movement

     

    Modern air conditioning appears to be an evolutionary invention that was built upon a series of successful, and not so successful, concepts.

    In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary created chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants. The compounds produced were “the world's first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.”1

    R-22 refrigerant was developed in the 1930s. This substance was a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) compound that became the standard refrigerant for decades to come. Decades later, scientists would discover that chlorine, a component of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, is damaging to the ozone layer.  As a result, R22, the standard residential air conditioner refrigerant, was included in the 1987 Montreal Protocol list of substances that were to be phased out of production over time for new air conditioners and heat pumps.

     

    What is the Montreal Protocol?

     

    According to the U.S. State Department, “The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).”  With 197 countries in agreement, it was the first United Nations treaty to achieve universal ratification.2 

    Under the Protocol, which was amended four times since 1988, HCFC production and consumption in the United States should be phased out by 2030.

     

    The R-22 to R-410A Transition

     

    It was apparent that R-22 couldn’t be eliminated overnight without severe economic impacts to the private and public sectors. As a result, the Montreal Protocol and amendments permitted for a step-by-step phase-out of R-22. This phased program allows homeowners the option of switching to chlorine-free refrigerants when they see the need to replace their current air conditioner or heat pump.

    Although the agreement was ultimately signed in 1988, the HVAC industry had to prepare for the mandated changes. Companies had to develop alternate refrigerant technologies, engineer new designs to accommodate substance characteristics, realign manufacturing to accommodate changes, and re-train dealers and technicians on the updates.  This would take some time, but R-410A refrigerant, a hydrofluorocarbon compound (HFC), was soon considered to be the most common alternative to R-22.3

     

    Out with R-22, In with R-410A

     

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing the R-22 refrigerant phase out for the United States. By January 1, 2010, there was a plan to ban the production and import of R-22 by January 1, 2020.3  As a result, manufacturers of heat pump and air conditioning equipment redesigned their systems to accommodate R-410A, a chlorine-free refrigerant compared to R-22.

    After 2020, any air conditioning or heat pump system using R-22 that requires servicing will have to depend on potentially expensive R-22 stockpiles or reclaimed refrigerant. The new ban on R-22 won’t affect homeowners that want to continue to utilize their functioning R-22 air conditioning systems.  However, if that equipment needs to be charged with refrigerant, there may be difficulties.4

     

     

    Next Generation Refrigerants

     

    If history has taught us anything, it’s that progress will continue. Scientific discoveries, technological advancements, and even environmental policies and politics will continue to affect the HVAC industry.

    Because of the global warming potential of many HFC refrigerants, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol has proposed to phase-down the use of refrigerants such as R-410A.  If it goes forward, the phase down is expected to begin sometime in the 2020’s.  The leading replacement for R-410A is a pure, single component refrigerant called R-32, which has one-third the global warming potential of R-410A.  Some products with this next generation refrigerant have already been introduced in the United States. Due to some properties of these lower global warming refrigerants, codes and standards are being updated before their mainstream use, which is expected in the early 2020’s.

    In the meantime, homeowners replacing their aging air conditioning and heat pump systems with new R-410A equipment will know that they are purchasing a chlorine-free option, as well as potentially increasing the energy-efficiency level of the air conditioner or heat pump for their homes.  

     

    Amana brand Air Conditioners

    1 Department of Energy. History of Air Conditioning. 20 July 2015. https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-air-conditioning. 3 April 2017.
    2 U.S. Department of State. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Washington D.C., n.d. https://www.state.gov/e/oes/eqt/chemicalpollution/83007.htm.
    3 Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Register. 28 October 2014. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/10/28/2014-25374/protection-of-stratospheric-ozone-adjustments-to-the-allowance-system-for-controlling-hcfc. 3 April 2017.
    4 R22 and Halon Critical Use Phase-out. n.d. http://www.epa.ie/air/airenforcement/ozone/r22andhaloncriticalusephase-out/. 3 April 2017.

    Read More
  • Precise Home Heating with Dual Fuel Technology

     Dual Fuel Home Heating

    Dual fuel technology combines the heating performance that you get from a heat pump with the consistent heating capacity of a gas furnace. When properly installed and configured, a dual fuel technology indoor comfort system offers the incredible combination of year-round comfort and energy-efficient performance!

    What makes this system so precise and energy efficient for heating is that it seamlessly alternates between the two energy sources for heating comfort, depending on the demand for heat.

    How Dual Fuel Heating Works

    A home with dual fuel heating has an outdoor heat pump and an indoor gas furnace. If the heating demand exceeds the preset heating capacity of your electric heat pump, the heat pump pauses, and your gas furnace takes over until the indoor temperature reaches the desired temperature on your thermostat or control system.1

    The system's switch point from the heat pump to the gas furnace can be set on the thermostat or HVAC control system by you or a licensed professional HVAC dealer. So whether you need to heat your home on a cool fall evening or an icy winter day, a dual fuel system is designed to provide energy-efficient, reliable, and consistent heat.

    Energy Cost and Efficiency

    Different energy sources operate most efficiently during specific weather conditions. A heat pump using electricity and a gas furnace using natural gas may maximize efficiency and possibly lower your heating bills. Yet, heat source efficiency is only part of the equation. The cost of electricity and natural gas in your location can have a significant impact on your heating bill. 

    “Prices of basic energy (natural gas, electricity, heating oil) are generally more volatile than prices of other commodities,” says the Energy Information Association.2 Energy prices typically vary by location because of the proximity to power plants, local distribution costs, and pricing regulations. 

    When a dual fuel system's switch point is set, the specific energy source pricing should be considered into the cost and efficiency equation.  If the switch point from the heat pump to the gas furnace reduces the time required to get to your set temperature, your energy cost of operation may decrease.3 

    The flexibility of using a heat pump and a gas furnace may provide the homeowner with energy cost savings. However, it is important to learn the utility pricing options from your local utility provider(s) and then discuss the potential savings a dual fuel system might offer with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

    Dual Fuel Installation Options

    If you are looking to replace your air conditioner with a heat pump, your professional licensed HVAC dealer may be able to upgrade your system configuration so that your new heat pump works in conjunction with your existing furnace system. If you are not currently utilizing natural gas as a heating source but it is an option is your area, homeowners interested in dual fuel systems may be able to add a high-efficiency gas furnace. The gas furnace would be the secondary heat source instead of using the heat pump's electric heat strip when the temperatures drop.  

    To find out whether a dual fuel system is an option for your home and how you may benefit, talk to your professional licensed HVAC dealer.

    1 U.S. Department of Energy. Air-Source Heat Pumps. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/air-source-heat-pumps. 26 April 2017. 
    2 U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Why Do Natural Gas Prices Fluctuate So Much?" n.d. U.S. Energy Information Administration. https://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/why_do_prices_fluctuate/html/ngbro.html. 28 April 2017.
    3 U.S. Energy Information Association. Factors Affecting Electricity Prices. n.d. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_factors_affecting_prices. 26 April 2017. 

     Dual fuel Central home heating
    Read More
  • Heat Pump Efficiency: The Revealing Heating Season Performance Factor

    Heat_Pump_Heating_Efficiency

    Heat pumps aren’t just for heating and cooling homes in mild climates anymore! Advances in heat pump technology have created a legitimate heating alternative for colder regions where temperatures may drop below freezing.1 Today’s heat pumps are now being installed from Alaska to Florida.2

    A heat pump is considered an energy-efficient heating option because it moves heat rather than converting it from fuel. When a thermostat calls for heat, the refrigerant in your heat pump’s coil extracts heat energy from the cold outdoor air. Even if it’s 32°F outside, there is enough heat energy from the outdoor air to heat your home.

    A heat pump’s reversed refrigeration cycle may allow properly installed heat pumps to deliver up to three times as much heat as the electrical energy used to operate it.3 This may make a heat pump a great energy-efficient option for your home.

    How Heat Pump Heating Efficiency is Measured?

    A heat pump’s heating efficiency rating is indicated by the Heating Season Performance Factor or HSPF number. That number represents the calculation of the heat pump’s total seasonal heat output, including the supplementary electric heat, as compared to the total electricity used during the same period.4 The HSPF is a heat pump’s heating version of SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

    HSPF measures heat pump efficiency in heating mode
    SEER measures heat pump efficiency in cooling mode

    HSPF and Efficiency

     

    Typically, the higher the HSPF number, the more efficient the heating performance of your heat pump.5 The U.S. Department of Energy raised the minimum energy efficiency standard for heat pumps in 2015 to 8.2 HSPF nationwide. That’s great news for homeowners in the market for a new heat pump — especially if your current heat pump’s HSPF rating is lower than the current standard.

    Energy-efficient features, such as variable speed fans and variable speed compressors have ushered in a new era of heat pumps and heating systems. These features offer increased energy efficiency benefits when compared to some older or base models, as well as help keep your budget in check and greatly improve your overall comfort level in your home.

    Today’s high-efficiency heat pumps can boast HSPF ratings of 9 or higher, which may provide significant savings on monthly heating bills when compared to a lower HSPF model operating under the same conditions. However, there is more to heating efficiency than just a heat pump’s HSPF number. Other factors that may significantly impact the performance of a heat pump. These often include:6 

    • Air duct air leaks
    • Part-load efficiency
    • Proper equipment sizing
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Climatic conditions

    If you are looking to save even more on monthly heating bills, the opportunity for additional savings may be hidden in other areas of your home. You may improve the energy-efficiency by improving insulation, sealing air leaks, and repairing ductwork.

    Which HSPF is Right for Me?

     

    In some locations across the country, a heat pump runs nearly year-round – cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. If you live in one of these areas, you may want to consider installing a high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® certified heat pump.* An ENERGY STAR certified heat pump may possibly save you more in energy costs if your current model isn’t listed as ENERGY STAR equipment.

    Specific heat pump features often determine the efficiency rating of a heat pump. A high HSPF with these additional energy-efficient features may cost you more than a base or standard efficiency model, but it may save you money over the life of the system.

    When determining if a high-efficiency heat pump fits your budget, you should evaluate how long you will use your new heat pump. By identifying how long you will live in your current home, you may be to determine how long it would take to recoup the initial costs of a high HSPF model heat pump.

    • Do you currently live in your “forever home”?
    • How long will your current home fit your lifestyle?
    • Would a job change require you to relocate?

    If you determine that high-efficiency is right for your home but tough on your budget, HVAC financing can often help spread out the cost of a new heat pump or entire heating systems over a specific time frame. Why dip into savings you may have set aside for something else, add to an existing credit card balance or even consider a home equity line of credit? HVAC financing can be an effective means to fit high-efficiency equipment into your budget without breaking the bank.

    Your licensed HVAC dealer can assist you in determining which heat pump and HSPF rating are right for your home and budget. 

    *Proper installation and calculated equipment sizing are critical components to achieving optimal operational performance. Split system heat pumps must be matched with appropriate coil components to meet ENERGY STAR criteria.  Ask your contractor for details or visit www.energystar.gov.

    Amana Heat Pumps

    1 Heat Pump Systems. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-systems.
    2 Vanessa Stevens, Colin Craven, Robbin Garber-Slaght. Air Source Heat Pumps in Southeast Alaska. Fairbanks, Alaska: Cold Climate Housing Research Center, 2013. http://www.cchrc.org/sites/default/files/docs/ASHP_final_0.pdf.
    3,4 U.S. Department of Energy. Air-Source Heat Pumps. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/air-source-heat-pumps. 26 April 2017.
    5 NC State. Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)- Defined. n.d. https://energy.ces.ncsu.edu/heating-seasonal-performance-factor-hspf-defined/. 2 August 2017.
    6 Paul W. Francisco, Larry Palmitter, David Baylon. Understanding Heating Seasonal Performance Factors for Heat Pumps. ACEEE, 2004. http://aceee.org/files/proceedings/2004/data/papers/SS04_Panel1_Paper08.pdf.

     

     

     
    Read More
  • Six Tips for Finding the Right Heating and Cooling Contractor for You

    A7_homeowner_tips

    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. 

    1. 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.


    2. Get 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

    3. Read Local Contractor 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.


    4. Qualities of a Good HVAC Technician


    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.

    5. Think Long-Term Indoor Comfort

    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.

    6. 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.


    Find an Amana brand Dealer

    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

    Read More
  • The Gas Furnace: 5 Factors to Consider When Buying a New Heating System

    Five Gas Furnace Factors

    Replacing your current gas furnace may not be on the top of your ‘To Do’ list, but as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.  In the case of having to purchase a new gas furnace, the silver lining may be in the form of energy efficiency and a decreased utility bill. And, doesn’t that warm your heart…

    Here are 5 factors you should consider when purchasing a new gas furnace:

    1. The Energy-Efficiency Number

     

    The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is used to rate gas furnace efficiencies. This measurement describes how well fuel is consumed by the gas furnace to produce heat that you feel in your home. As the AFUE rating increases so does the designed efficiency of your gas furnace.

    Here is a simple explanation of AFUE:

    • 80% AFUE - 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat, and 20% is lost through exhaust.1
    •  90+% AFUE – 90+% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat, and up to 10% is lost through exhaust.2

    According to the American Gas Association, the demand for natural gas has increased, but the amount used per household has decreased. The development of increasingly energy efficient products, including natural gas heating equipment, appears to be making an impact on consumption.3

    2.  Operational Costs

     

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners will likely save money on fuel bills over the life of a higher AFUE gas furnace when compared to a less efficient model that operates under the same circumstances.4 

    Here is an example of how the AFUE may impact operating costs.

    • If you spent $1 on fuel, approximately .80¢ of every energy dollar warms your home with an 80% AFUE gas furnace.
    • With a 90+% AFUE gas furnace, that same dollar will yield .90¢ worth of cozy, indoor comfort.

    Of course, these are estimated examples because each home’s heating cost variables are unique to its design. However, the more your gas furnace can capture the heat from the condensed exhaust gases, the more heat you will get for your money — meaning that your operational costs may be lower with a 90+% AFUE gas furnace than an 80% AFUE gas furnace.

    However, before installing a high-efficient furnace to decrease your heating costs, you should make every effort to improve your home’s overall energy-efficiency. If your home has gaping holes in your ductwork or insufficient insulation, simply installing a new high-efficiency furnace may not curb excessive heating costs.  It is important to have a licensed professional HVAC dealer to inspect the entire heating system to identify any issues or lingering energy vampires in your heating system. 

    If long-term operational costs are an important factor in your gas furnace purchase decision, ask your licensed professional HVAC dealer for an operational cost comparison between a standard-efficiency and high-efficiency gas furnace model.

    3. Is Replacing Your Gas Furnace Worth the Cost?

     

    Despite efforts to prolong its life, there comes a time when it is better to replace your gas furnace rather than repair it. Although both an 80% and a 90+% gas furnace will efficiently heat your home when compared to a less efficiency model, there are initial and long-term operational cost differences that you should consider when purchasing a new heating system. Your licensed professional HVAC dealer can inform you of:

    • The regional AFUE standard applies to your home
    • The overall replacement cost for each model of gas furnace
    • Cost of any necessary heating system modifications required
    • The availability of particular models in your area.

    According to the Natural Gas Efficiency Energy Solutions Center, “For any house that is at least modestly insulated, replacing a 20-year-old furnace is likely to be the largest single energy management measure that can be taken to reduce heating costs.”5  However, the cost to replace a 20-year old furnace with either 80% and 90+% gas furnaces can vary between the two efficiencies. Here’s why:

    • High-efficiency models (90+% AFUE or higher) utilize a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases. This allows the gas furnace to reach higher efficiency levels. To capture these exhaust gases, the venting for your new 90+% AFUE gas furnace might require a reconfiguration. The upfront cost of a high-efficiency furnace may be more expensive than a less efficient model, but when properly installed, operation costs are often lower.
    • An 80% AFUE gas furnace vents exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.  Your home’s current heating system may already be designed to accommodate this type of installation which may attribute a lower installation when compared to a high-efficiency model.

    Your dealer can discuss the overall replacement cost for each type of gas furnace and any modifications required. It is important to remember that a higher-efficiency model may cost more initially, but the increase in operational energy-efficiency may save you money month-over-month, year-over-year.

    4. Which AFUE is Best for Me?

     

    So how do you choose? You should start by evaluating your budget, financing options, and current living situation.

    If your current budget cannot cover the initial cost of a high-efficiency furnace, HVAC financing may help spread the cost of your new gas furnace or entire heating systems over a predetermined amount of time. HVAC consumer financing may give you the opportunity to pay for your system in small payments while benefiting from monthly energy savings. It could be a win-win situation! The difference in monthly utility bill savings from a high-efficiency gas furnace may be enough to pay for the initial installation cost variation. 

    Homeowners should also evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership to determine how long it would take to recuperate the initial costs of a higher AFUE gas furnace model. The following questions may help you determine your gas furnace replacement budget:

    • Are you currently in my “forever home”?
    • How long will your current home to fit your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to sell your home in the next few years?
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?

    5. Even More Smart Savings

     

    Depending on where you live, your state and/or utility company may offer tax credits and other incentives to homeowners who install a high-efficiency gas furnace*. This could mean that a high-efficiency gas furnace could provide you with even more savings! 

    Be sure to discuss all of these variables with your licensed, professional gas furnace dealer.  Their experience and expertise are valuable when identifying regional standards and determining whether a high-efficiency gas furnace is right for you and your family.

    You may be able to identify applicable tax savings on specific Amana brand products at the Amana brand rebates webpage

    * IMPORTANT: Before filing for any tax credit concerning these products, consumers should consult with a tax professional to determine the application of such credits to their particular situation.

    Gas Furnace Buying Guide

    1,2,3 Furnace and Boilers. n.d. http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers.
    4 American Gas Association. Furnace Standard Analysis: Discussion Document. Washington, DC: AGA, 2014. https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/08/f18/AGA%20Impact%20Analysis-c_0.pdf.
    5 Natural Gas Efficiency Energy Solutions Center. Natural Gas Furnaces. December 2008. http://naturalgasefficiency.org/for-residential-customers/heat-gas_furnace/. 22 September 2017.

     
    Read More
  • Home Heating and Cooling Equipment: Proper HVAC Installation Matters

    Why HVAC installation matters

    What do fence posts and batteries have in common?  They must be installed correctly, or they won’t work as intended. Proper installation matters and there are 1000’s of possible examples! This is especially true of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. HVAC installation is much more complicated than installing batteries or digging a hole. So, it’s important to make sure your local HVAC technician is experienced, qualified, and backs their work.


    Energy-Efficient HVAC

     

    A proper installation of your heating or cooling equipment will help deliver the efficiency rating you expect. A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is installed improperly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!1 “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.  

    “Our measurements indicate that improper installation could increase household energy use for space heating and cooling on the order of 30% over what it should be.2   Homeowners must be sure they hire trained, qualified, and installation-experienced HVAC technicians.  But this isn’t always as easy as it sounds!


    Choosing an Experienced HVAC Dealer

     

    HVAC installation is not a home “DIY” project. Creating a comfortable indoor temperature is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Finding a qualified, licensed and professional HVAC installer is crucial to a quality installation. But with so many companies, technicians, and contractors to choose from, finding the right person for the job may be difficult. How can you check the expertise of an HVAC technician?

    A homeowner should spend some time researching and selecting the right local HVAC dealer. A quality HVAC installation can pay off for years to come. Homeowners should consider researching their dealer’s:

    • Qualifications 
    • Technical certifications and training 
    • Industry associations 
    • Labor limited warranty options 
    • Financing options 
    • Availability - What days/times are they available? 

    Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training. However, licensing may not reflect expertise. If you have driven with a teenage driver, you may understand the value of experience!

    You may want to consider getting HVAC technician recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.  Be sure these recommendations are for the same type of HVAC work that you need to be completed.  Homeowner Tips for Selecting a Heating & Cooling Contractor” highlights some suggested evaluation tactics.

    There is a better chance that a dealer understands the high-efficiency installation process, manufacturer’s products, proven best-practices and possible site-specific challenges if they have both training and real-world experience.


    Ongoing HVAC Training and Certifications

     

    Home comfort equipment, like your heating and cooling system, is continually advancing. HVAC technicians should have training and experience with the latest technology and high-efficiency products. Technicians can earn independent and manufacturer-based certifications as a way to increase their HVAC installation knowledge and confirm their understanding of these advancing systems. Homeowners may have a greater peace of mind during installation if their technician has received advanced industry training or earned a specific certification.

    Some HVAC industry certifications include:

    NATE: The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians. The organization develops and tests real-world industry knowledge. Candidates can earn installation and service certifications in multiple specialty areas.3

    According to a 2016 NATE press release, NATE Certification Affirms Contracting Competency, “certification offers a seal of approval that the individual doing the work is qualified, educated, and knowledgeable.”

    HVAC Excellence Certification: The mission of the HVAC Excellence certification program is to improve skills by testing the technical education process. The Esco Group provides many types of certifications for technicians at all levels in their career, from Employment Ready Certifications to Professional Technician and Master Specialist Certifications.

    EPA Certification:  All technicians who maintain, service, repair or dispose of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants, including air condition coolants such as R-22 or R-410A, must be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques. HVAC technicians cannot buy refrigerants without the appropriate EPA Certification.


    Find an Amana brand dealer

    1, 2 Domanski, P. A., Henderson, H. I., & Payne, W. V. (October 2014). Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance. Retrieved from http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf
    3 NATE. (n.d.). Retrieved from North American Technician Excellence: http://www.natex.org/site/1/Home

    Read More
  • Will a Smart Thermostat Work with My Heating and Cooling System?

    Thermostat_and_Heating_and_Cooling

    Everything seems to be getting smarter! This technological revolution has also reached the way we control our home’s heating and cooling. Today’s smart thermostats can offer a wide range of features and connectivity with a smartphone, making it even easier to align your lifestyle with the comfort of your home.  However, will a new smart thermostat connect with your current heating and cooling system?  

    Depending on the HVAC system in your home, it is possible that only a specific style of thermostat or control system may control the system’s functions. It often comes down to what type of heating and cooling equipment was installed and the specific wiring that is required between your equipment and the thermostat.

    Your Heating and Cooling Equipment

    Traditional HVAC systems were not designed to communicate with the various types of smart technology on the market today. It’s even possible that your specific HVAC system will only operate as designed with one specific style of thermostat or HVAC control system installed on the wall. This is why you often have to purchase a new thermostat at the same time as a new HVAC system. 

    Traditionally, heat pumps, gas furnaces, air conditioners, and air handlers operations are controlled by the thermostats or HVAC control systems that can address their unique features.

    For example:

    • If your home has a heat pump, the thermostat must be able to identify the auxiliary heat function. If it a thermostat is specific to a gas furnace, you may not be able to control this additional function.
    • A dual fuel system, which is comprised of a gas furnace and a heat pump, should be connected to a thermostat that can accommodate the specific heating set points to transfer the heating duties.
    • A high-efficiency, two-stage or variable speed system would traditionally be connected to a thermostat that could adjust operation based on the demand. This type of system required the thermostat to have two-stage wiring. (NOTE: New revolutionary HVAC technology is changing this)

    If you’re not sure which type of system is installed in your home, it’s best to ask your the license professional HVAC technician.

    HVAC Efficiency and Thermostat Compatibility

    Thermostat compatibility often depends on the features associated with the HVAC system installed in your home. Some of the terminology used to describe these features may include:

    • Single-stage: Your heating or cooling system operates at 100% capacity until it reaches your preset indoor temperature and then turns off.
    • Two-stage: Your heating or cooling system is capable of operating at 100% capacity and a lower speed, depending on demand.
    • Variable-speed or multi-stage:  Your system offers various levels of output to match the demand.

    If you plan to upgrade your current HVAC equipment to a high-efficiency model with two-stage or variable speed features, your current thermostat may not be designed to accommodate the additional energy-efficient features. The communicating technology that allows the certain features of your system to operate as designed is, most likely, located in the thermostat on the wall of your home. 

    Don’t miss out on the energy-efficiency benefits of your new high-efficiency HVAC system simply because the thermostat or control system cannot speak the language of your HVAC equipment.

    To be sure you are getting the maximum benefit out of your high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, talk to your licensed professional HVAC technician about thermostat compatibility or the latest communicating high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.

    Thermostat Wires and Power

    While you should always hire a licensed professional to work with any wiring in your home, it’s helpful to understand why some thermostats are designed to work with specific equipment. It often comes down to the wiring set-up between the specific HVAC equipment installed and the thermostat on the wall.

    The most common types of thermostat or control systems on the market today use low voltage wiring. The wires to low-voltage thermostats or HVAC control systems are typically very thin, similar to wiring for doorbells or telephone jacks.  A low voltage thermostat or control system is commonly used to connect with:

    • Forced-air gas furnaces
    • Single-stage or multi-stage heat pumps
    • Central air conditioning systems with ductwork

    Many smart thermostats and HVAC control systems have features, including home automation options, which require it to be powered at all times by a ‘common’ wire (C-wire). The common wire supplies constant power to your connected thermostat. If your home’s current set up doesn’t allow for constant power through a dedicated C-wire, a licensed professional HVAC technician may need to add the specific wiring for these home automation options to work properly.

    To determine your specific home set up, consult with your licensed professional HVAC technician.

    New HVAC System Technology

    Historically, premium heating and cooling systems have limited homeowners to one specific, and perhaps expensive, smart thermostat or HVAC control system. However, rather than relying on the communicating technology in the thermostat on the wall, innovative manufacturers are factory-installing smart technology directly into the indoor HVAC equipment. This built-in technology is designed to actively learn and make continuous automatic adjustments to the equipment’s operation, as needed, based on the homeowner’s set preferences.

    With this technology added directly to the HVAC equipment, a homeowner may have the opportunity to keep their current single-stage thermostat or choose from a wide assortment of thermostat or control systems on the market. 

    If you are considering upgrading your HVAC equipment or simply the thermostat or control system, it is best to seek the guidance of a licensed professional HVAC dealer.  They should be able to assess the technology of your current indoor comfort equipment and determine which thermostat or control system is compatible.

    Smart Thermostat and HVAC Compatibility
    Read More
  • Cool HVAC Facts: Air Conditioning

    air conditioning facts

    At some point in the spring or early summer, uncomfortable temperatures force homeowners to make the switch from ‘heat’ to ‘cool’ on their thermostat. As the flowers bloom and warm sunshine raises the temperature, it’s the perfect time to share some basic facts about your air conditioning system, the science involved, and how it has impacted population growth. 

     

    TONS of Cooling and a Match!

    As a kid, you may have learned that one ton is equal to 2,000 pounds. Based on that knowledge, if you have a 4-ton air conditioner, you would expect the equipment to weigh 8,000 pounds. That would be almost twice the weight of a mid-sized SUV!  The good news is that the tonnage or weight assigned to air conditioners has nothing to do with the weight of the equipment but with the historical fact that people used to cool spaces with blocks of ice.

    Before modern cooling systems, people rated the capacity to cool indoor spaces by melted ice. For ice to melt, heat is transferred from its surroundings to the ice - causing it to melt. It takes 143 British Thermal Units (BTUs) to melt one pound of ice. To melt one “ton” of ice, you need approximately 12,000BTUs/hr.  Do you see the ice/air conditioner connection yet?

    To make things even more interesting, one BTU equals the amount of heat you get from burning one kitchen match all the way down to the end. So the actual size of your air conditioner or heat pump is a combination of BTUs and tons!

    One ton = the ability to cool 12,000 BTUs in an hour

    Your professional licensed HVAC contractor uses specific calculations to determine the correct “ton” air conditioner required to cool your home efficiently. It’s essential that a properly sized, specifically matched unit be installed in your specific home. And thanks to technological advancements, the ‘tons’ of cooling have nothing to do with massive blocks of ice.

     

    Physics Can be Really Cool!

     

    Like many technological advancements, you can thank physics for helping you stay cool in your home.  Air conditioners use the basic laws of physics and the refrigeration cycle to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature when the outdoors heat up.  When liquid changes into a gas, it extracts or pulls heat from its surroundings. You can test out this basic concept for yourself with a water faucet and your hand! 

     
    • Put your hand in warm water and then hold it up in the air. 
    • The wet hand will feel cooler than the dry hand, especially if there is some air movement.
    • Why? Because the water is evaporating! 
    • As the water evaporates, it pulls heat away from your hand.

     

    Cooling with the Refrigeration Cycle

     

    The principles of physics are used in the refrigeration cycle.  This cycle removes heat from one area and distributes it to another. With induced pressure changes from the condenser coil, compressor, evaporator coil and the expansion valve, the state of the refrigerant is forced to fluctuate between a liquid and gas - and as you now know, when liquid changes into a gas, it extracts or pulls heat from its surroundings. This continuous cycle allows the heat to be transferred from inside your home to the exterior.

    Here’s how it works:1

    • The refrigerant comes into the compressor as a low-pressure gas. It is then compressed” to become a high-pressure gas.
    • The gas then flows through the condenser coil. Here the gas “condenses” to a liquid, and gives off its heat to the outside air.
    • The liquid then moves to the expansion valve under high pressure. This valve restricts the flow of the fluid and lowers its pressure as it leaves the expansion valve.
    • The low-pressure liquid then moves to the evaporator coil, where heat from the inside air is absorbed and changes it from a liquid to a gas.
    • As a hot low-pressure gas, the refrigerant moves to the compressor where the entire cycle is repeated.

     

    Heat and Humidity!

     

    Believe it or not, there is water all around us - even when it’s not raining! Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Air with higher humidity has an increased amount of water vapor.

    When the humidity level is high, especially when combined with high temperatures, you may be uncomfortable!  That’s because sweat may not evaporate as quickly as it would with a lower humidity level. This phenomenon may make us feel hotter than the actual temperature because evaporation is slowed.

    If you think about the wet hand experiment - if the humidity level is high, it may take longer for the air to absorb the extra moisture on your wet hand. That means that your hand wouldn’t feel as cold because evaporation is slowed. This explains why it feels hotter when the humidity levels are high. Likewise, very low humidity can make us feel colder than the actual temperature. This happens because the dry air helps moisture evaporate more quickly than usual.

    So how can an air conditioning help you feel more comfortable in your home? When warm air comes in contact with your air conditioner’s or heat pump’s cold evaporator coil, some moisture may be condensed out of the air, making your home feel less humid. The moisture collected by the evaporator coil goes to a drain and then it is sent outside, away from your home. But air conditioners and heat pumps are not meant to control indoor humidity; it just happens to be an incidental byproduct of the refrigeration cycle!

     

    Indoor Comfort and Population Growth

     

    If you have ever come inside a cool home on a hot day, you can understand why air conditioning is continuously named as one of the top inventions in modern history. Most warm-weather states can thank the air conditioner for their increasing populations. Can you imagine what life must have been like during those southern summer days before air conditioning? 

    As air conditioning became more affordable, its popularity grew. By the 1950s, more than one million room air conditioning units had been sold. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that newly constructed homes tipped the scales of residential air conditioning. In 1977, 54% of newly constructed single-family homes had air conditioning compared to the 46% that weren’t built with air conditioning.2 The upward trend has continued for decades. 

    By 2015, the U.S. Census revealed that nearly 93% of newly constructed homes in the United States were built with air conditioning. However, the numbers also acknowledged that between 1997 and 2015, over 99% of newly constructed homes in the “south” were built with air conditioning.2 It appears that cool, indoor comfort is a priority. Whether for personal or economic reasons, air conditioning will continue to advance and thrive! 

    Amana brand Air Conditioner

    1 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. Basic Refrigeration Cycle. n.d. https://www.swtc.edu/Ag_Power/air_conditioning/lecture/basic_cycle.htm. 7 April 2017.
    2 U.S. Census Bureau. "Presence of Air-Conditioning in New Single-Family Houses Completed." U.S. Census Bureau - Air Conditioning. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2015. 1-20. https://www.census.gov/construction/chars/pdf/aircond.pdf.

     
    Read More
  • Smart Heating and Cooling Communicating Technology

    Smart_Heating_and_Cooling_Technology

    Smart technology is meant to make our lives easier.  While home heating and cooling systems have typically been designed with the latest technology available, there was never a need for smart communication - that was left to the thermostat (also referred to as the HVAC “control” system). But as consumer behavior changes and home automation becomes more ingrained in our lifestyles, the heating and cooling equipment is become smarter without having to rely on a particular thermostat!

    Smart Heating and Cooling Choices

    There are a lot of thermostats options. Some homeowners want to keep their basic thermostat or upgrade to a smart thermostat, and others find that when purchasing a new premium HVAC system, they are required to purchase a specific, and perhaps expensive, thermostat.

    But, what if you want to upgrade your basic programmable thermostat?  As more and more homeowners adopt smart home products, they are discovering that the newest home automation systems may not be compatible with their “traditional” central HVAC system.

    So what happens when the communicating technology that was typically located in the thermostat connected to an inside wall of your home is factory-installed into smart heating and cooling equipment? The result is that you may not be locked into a specific thermostat, and the heating and cooling equipment regulates its own performance.

    The HVAC Equipment Circuit Board

    Traditionally, your HVAC equipment that creates the comfortable temperature in your home has had one function – to heat and cool your indoor spaces. It turns ON and OFF, or adjusts speeds as directed by the thermostat. When this intelligent communicating technology is added directly to the indoor HVAC equipment circuit board, the system becomes smarter than traditional HVAC equipment without the communicating technology.

    Rather than relying on the circuit board in the thermostat, the communicating technology circuit board is securely installed in the indoor unit of the energy-efficient heating and cooling system. It uses a smart algorithm to gather HVAC system performance data to automatically make adjustments that may reduce the amount of energy used to heat or cool your home. It moves the required technology from the thermostat to the HVAC equipment. 

    This technology is designed to create an intelligent indoor comfort system capable of customizing its own energy-efficient performance. Upon installation, it receives a simple signal from the thermostat and intelligently distributes operational messages between the indoor and outdoor components of a central heating and cooling system.

    More Thermostat Choices

    With this intelligent HVAC technology added directly to the indoor equipment, you may find that you have many thermostat options to choose from. Since the technology works with any single-stage thermostat, you can even keep your current one. The choice is yours! And, once you set your desired indoor temperature, your home’s heating and cooling system will make the adjustments to ensure top performance. 

    If you are replacing your current HVAC equipment or merely the thermostat, it is best to seek the guidance of a licensed professional HVAC dealer. 

    Heating and Cooling Technology

     
    Read More
  • Benefits of Financing HVAC Systems

    Benefits of HVAC Financing

    Eventually, your central heating and cooling system will need to be replaced. However, when that time comes, your savings may not be ready! What if you could tailor your indoor comfort purchase to your monthly household budget and energy efficiency needs at the same time? That is where financing can help keep you and your wallet comfortable!

    Why Finance Heating or Cooling Equipment?

     

    HVAC financing helps spread the cost of new equipment over a predetermined amount of time. Why dip into savings you may have earmarked for another purpose, add to an existing credit card balance or even consider a home equity line of credit when you have another option? 

    HVAC financing allows you to overcome the cash anxiety that often comes with upgrading or replacing your indoor comfort equipment. By financing your new purchase, you can break up payments into monthly installments, leaving your cash available for something you cannot finance. 

    As with any purchase spread out over time, it’s essential to review financing details to make sure you understand your financial responsibility. You should consider the interest rate, repayment terms and the “small print” in any potential financing contract.

    Smart Money Management

     

    Your HVAC buying decision should be based on long-term comfort and energy-efficiency. Enhanced energy savings can result in real, tangible returns when you invest in a high-efficiency system, especially when compared to your old unit or base-efficiency units.

    While your frugal urges may tempt you to opt for a minimum efficiency system, the least expensive option may not be the most cost-effective solution considering the long-lasting life cycle of a new, energy efficient system. New, high-efficient systems may offer reoccurring monthly savings on your utility bill and possibly increase the value of your home. The increase in the monthly financed payment may be realized in your energy bill. 

    A high-efficient system can also provide uncompromising indoor comfort throughout your home, allowing you to feel the difference compared to your old unit. Impactful innovations such as variable-speed fans, variable-speed compressor and heat exchanger technology have ushered in a new era of HVAC operation that enhances indoor comfort and performance.

    Moreover, HVAC financing can often cover the cost of an extended service plan. Extended service plans may minimize additional out of pocket maintenance or repair expenses that you may face during the term of the service plan.

    What Do I Need for HVAC Financing Approval?

     

    Depending on the local contractor’s financing company, amount financed or terms of service, you may need to provide personal information and be subject to a credit check. Ask the dealer to provide complete information before you make a final decision about HVAC financing. 


    “Each lender differs in what is required for loan approval,” says Erin McCollum, Director of Contractor Services for EGIA. According to McCollum, typical customers who are approved for an HVAC loan may have:

    • “Fair to excellent” credit profiles
    • Debt to income ratio under 50%
    • No recent history of bankruptcies

     

    Common Financing Terminology*

     

    • APR (Annual Percentage Rate) - The interest charged on the loan
    • Debt to Income Ratio - The amount of a borrower's debt divided by their income
    • Equal Monthly Payments at 0% APR - A loan that is paid in equal monthly payments over a specific term with an APR of 0%
    • Fixed Interest Rate - A fixed percentage of interest that is paid over the loan term
    • Interest - Payment for the use of money over time or the amount a borrower pays to borrow money from the lender
    • No Interest, No Payment Loan - A loan in which no payments need to be made within a specific promotional time period.  If the balance is not paid at the end of the promotion period, the borrower usually pays off the interest from the loan start. 
    • Sub-Prime Loan - A loan given to a borrower who does not meet the credit requirements for a typical loan.  Sub-prime loans have higher interest rates because they finance borrowers who may have a poor credit history, low income, and high debt to income ratios
    • Term - The time length the loan will run 
    • Unsecured Loan - A loan that is given and based on a borrower's credit instead of collateral

     

    * Terminology was provided by the Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing energy-efficiency and renewable energy solutions through the home improvement and renewable energy industries.

    cta_1

    Read More
  • Air Conditioner Features that May Save You Money

    AC Feature to Save Money

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has predicted that residential electricity costs will continue to rise into 2018.1 This is not the best news for homeowners who have enjoyed lower electricity prices for the past few years - especially for those with older, substandard efficiency air conditioning systems! 

    Just ten years ago, the average U.S. residential electricity price was approximately 11.07¢ per kilowatt-hour*. The EIA forecasts the July 2018 price to be near 13.33¢ per kilowatt-hour* – that’s over a 20% increase in 10 years.1

    However, there is good news too! If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, there are energy-efficient systems with advanced features that can help reduce electricity bills and improve indoor comfort.

    Residential Electricity Prices EIA

    Increased Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

     

    To understand the energy-efficiency of an air conditioning system, you need to understand Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. This number measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use. Currently, the minimum U.S. SEER rating required for central air conditioners is 14 in the South and Southwest regions and 13 in the North.

    If your air conditioning system was installed before 2006, it could have SEER ratings of 10 or less. A new, higher efficiency air conditioner may be able to save you on energy costs when compared to a lower SEER unit.

    The higher the SEER rating, the less energy an air conditioning unit will use to operate.

    When researching high-efficiency air conditioners with a high SEER number, you may find that these specific units include additional features that provide premium cooling performance and money-saving operation.

     

    Two-Stage and Variable Speed Cooling

     

    Certain high-efficiency air conditioners use two-stage or variable speed technology that offers part-load efficiency. The ability to match operational speeds to cooling needs allows a unit to adapt to the particular load requirements in an energy-efficient manner.  

    If you lower your thermostat or control system more than a few degrees, your air conditioner’s compressor and circulating fan will operate at 100% cooling capacity to reach the desired temperature. If your air conditioner only needs to maintain the set temperature, it may not need to run at 100%! This is where two-stage or variable speed technology comes in! A low-stage demand from the thermostat can result in up to 35% speed reductions at both the compressor and indoor unit circulating fan. Two-stage cooling may result in extended operation at a low speed, providing improved indoor comfort, and using less electricity than single-stage systems. 

    Variable-speed cooling is driven by a variable-speed compressor that can adjust output to match the load requirement. This type of compressor provides premium cooling performance which can result in lower energy bills when compared to a single-stage compressor. Because the unit does not have to start and stop as frequently, it uses less energy than a standard AC would use.

     

    Let’s Review

     

    Despite the increase in electricity costs, it may be possible to save energy while cooling your indoor spaces. Yet, a high-efficient air conditioner with advanced technology is only one piece of the puzzle. If other key energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like. Additional factors that can influence cooling efficiency levels include, but are not limited to:

    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • AC installation and maintenance
    • Insulation and construction methods
    • Windows and doors

     

    If you want to trim costs associated with indoor cooling, talk to your local professional or licensed HVAC dealer.


    1 Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved from US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/electricity.cfm


    cta_4

    Read More
  • Should I Repair or Replace my Air Conditioner?

    Repair or Replace my AC

    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.  

    Home comfort with Amana brand


    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.

    Read More
  • What is SEER and Cooling Efficiency

    A3_energy-efficient

    In 2006, the average retail price for electricity was 10.40¢ per Kilowatt hour.1  By May 2018, that price increased to 13.15¢ per Kilowatt hour.2 That's a 26.44% increase in your electricity costs!

    With rates rising, how can you stay cool and comfortable in your home and spend less on utility costs? Your answer may rest with new, energy-efficient HVAC equipment and its 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. 3   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.


    Cost Saving Legacy of Amana brand


    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 US Energy Information Administration. (2018). Monthly Electric Power Industry Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Energy Information Administration.
    3 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

    Read More
  • Answers to Your Most Common HVAC Questions

    Common HVAC questions and answers

    If you have a central heating and cooling system in your home, the following three questions have likely crossed your mind.

    1. How much is this going to cost me?
    2. Should I repair or replace my HVAC equipment?
    3. How can I save money on my utility bills?

    An air conditioner, heat pump or a gas furnace should be considered a quality of life investment for your home and family. Just imagine how different your life would be without the benefits of modern conveniences. So naturally, you will have some questions when the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) expert arrives at your home.

     

    How much is this going to cost me?

     

    The thought of unknown and unplanned HVAC costs can be a stressful. Service call rates, labor fees, replacement parts and entire systems have a wide range of costs, making it difficult to budget for your HVAC technician’s arrival. To add to that, every home set up and homeowner expectations are different. While costs are specific to your local HVAC dealer and customized to your system needs, charges can be broken down into the following three categories:

    • System Maintenance: Many HVAC technicians offer a flat rate for heating and cooling system maintenance. However, your maintenance costs may depend on the HVAC company you choose, the number of cooling and heating units in your home, and your location.  

      If you have a maintenance service contract, your maintenance visit may be set at a pre-determined, discounted rate. You can find maintenance plans for as little as $100, but you should compare companies, coverages and included services to determine which plan is right for you.1

      While you may want to forgo routine HVAC maintenance to save a few dollars, preventive maintenance on your heating and cooling system may prevent minor issues from turning into expensive, major problems over time and could maximize the lifecycle of your heating or cooling unit.2 According to the experts, the cost of HVAC maintenance is worth the money.3 

    • Repair: The cost to repair your heating or cooling system has lots of potential variables. The final cost may include the service call fee, the labor required to make the repair, and the specific replacement parts required for your system. If you request a service call outside regular working hours, labor fees may be more expensive than during normal business hours. The cost for HVAC repairs can vary just as much as car repairs — ranging from less than $100 to a few thousand dollars depending on the work required.

      If you are looking at a costly repair, you should consider getting multiple quotes. You want to get the job done right without being overcharged so be sure to hire the right HVAC dealer! Hiring the wrong company may lead to many long-term consequences including multiple follow up repairs, lackluster energy efficiency, increased utility bills, and compromised indoor comfort.

    • Replacement: There are multiple considerations that go into the cost of installing a new energy efficient heating or cooling system in your home. The following are just a few of the factors that may impact the price of your new heating or cooling system.
    • Your home: You home’s square footage and construction impact the size and required capacity of your heating and cooling system. Typically, larger capacity or tonnage units are more expensive than smaller capacity or tonnage units.
    • Complexity of installation: The more complex the installation, the more it may cost for labor and additional parts.
    • Location, location, location: Every location has cost-of-living variables, supply/demand characteristics, and site-specific regulations. Your home’s location may impact the cost of housing-related products, including new heating and cooling equipment.
    • System features: Some high-efficiency features may cost more upfront, but they are designed and engineered to impact the overall efficiency of the system for years and years.
    • Additional parts: For a new unit to be installed in your home according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, the set-up or configuration modifications may require additional parts.

     

    Should I repair or replace my HVAC equipment?

     

    Despite efforts to prolong the life of your heating or cooling equipment, there may come a time when it is better to replace it rather than repair it. Every repair-replace scenario is unique to the unit and the expectations of the homeowner. A professional licensed HVAC technician may provide you with a repair estimate, as well as supply equipment-specific reasons to consider a replacement unit. Below are a few factors that may help you to determine if it’s time to replace your old heating or cooling system.

    • Lifespan of equipment: Discuss the typical lifespan of your heating or cooling equipment with your HVAC technician.  Lifespans vary and may depend on usage, maintenance, installation and system set-up.
    • Continuous or costly repairs: How expensive does a repair need to be before it’s worth it to upgrade to a new system? As the homeowner, you need to make that determination.
    • Lackluster energy efficiency and operational cost: If your HVAC equipment has a low-efficiency rating, it may be cost-effective to replace it with a more energy-efficient model. The long-term utility bill savings of purchasing a higher efficiency system may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.
    • Indoor comfort level:  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, noise reduction and energy efficiency when compared to their current model.
    • Length of home ownership:  You should evaluate how long you plan to live in your current home. Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new high-efficiency heating or cooling system unit.

     

    How can I save money on my utility bills?

     

    The more electricity or fuel your household uses, the higher your utility bill will be. One way to reduce the amount of energy that your home uses is to increase the energy-efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Today’s HVAC systems are designed to offer a range of energy-efficient features that may help you save on your utility bill. 

    • Gas Furnace:  A gas furnace can offer an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) as high as 98.5%, meaning nearly all the energy purchased is used for heating your home. The minimum efficiency standard for furnaces using natural gas is currently 80%  AFUE.
    • Heat pump in heating mode: Some heat pumps offer Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) of 9 or higher, which may provide significant energy efficiency and savings on monthly heating bills when compared to a lower HSPF model operating under the same conditions. The minimum efficiency standard for split system heat pumps is currently 8.2 HSPF. 
    • Air conditioner or heat pump in cooling mode: It’s increasingly common to see residential HVAC cooling equipment being installed with up to 18 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The minimum efficiency standard for split system air conditioners is currently 13 SEER in northern states and 14 SEER in southern states. The minimum efficiency standard for split system heat pumps is 14 SEER.

    High-efficient HVAC equipment with innovative technology is only one piece of the puzzle. If other key energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like. Additional factors that can influence heating and cooling efficiency performance includes, but are not limited to:

    • Routine air filter replacements
    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • Installation and maintenance schedule
    • Insulation and construction methods
    • Windows and doors
    • Programmable thermostats

     

    If you are curious how your indoor heating and cooling equipment may be affecting your monthly utility bill or want to learn ways to improve efficiency, talk to your local professional licensed HVAC dealer.

    Find an Amana brand Dealer

    1 Consumer Checkbook. Are HVAC Services Contracts Worth It? November 2016. https://www.checkbook.org/national/air-conditioning-and-heating-contractors/articles/Are-HVAC-Service-Contracts-Worth-It-2909. 22 August 2017.
    2 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. n.d. <http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner>.
    3 Energy Star. Maintenance Checklist. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_maintenance. 22 August 2017.

     
    Read More
  • Should I Repair or Replace my Gas Furnace?

    A4_repair_replace_gas

    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.  


    cta_1

    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

     
    Read More
  • The Forced-Air, High-Efficiency Gas Furnace

    A5_forced_air

    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 Forced-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

    Amana brand Gas Furnace

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

     
    Read More
  • Get Peace of Mind with an Air Conditioner Limited Warranty*

    Amana brand Limited Warranty

    When you make a large purchase like an air conditioner, it can give you peace of mind if the manufacturer backs its product with a limited warranty.  But in order to receive the fullest extent of those benefits, you may have to register the purchased product! 

    Equipment can either be registered by the homeowner or the installing dealer. However, be sure to confirm your product’s registration process with your dealer to limit any confusion about who will be registering the equipment.

    Why Should I Register my Air Conditioner?

    Without any action, an Amana® brand air conditioner comes with a 5-year parts limited warranty. But when you register your new Amana brand unit and meet certain predefined conditions, your air conditioner will qualify for additional enhanced warranty coverage.

    With predefined registration conditions, Amana brand will furnish a 10-year parts limited warranty that provides replacement part(s) for any part that is found to be defective due to workmanship or materials under normal use and maintenance. With predefined registration conditions, select high-efficiency models include a lifetime unit replacement limited warranty** and lifetime compressor limited warranty** (good for as long as you own your home). 

    For example,

    • Select higher efficiency Amana brand air conditioners offer a lifetime unit replacement limited warranty to the original, registered owner. If the original registered owner should have a compressor failure, Amana brand will replace the unit with a comparable Amana brand air conditioner.

    For specific warranty information, be sure to read your specific air conditioner model’s warranty certificate! To view the warranty certificate for a specific Amana brand air conditioner, please select the air conditioner model of choice, and then view the “Product Limited Warranty” section. Under the specific model web page, you will find a link to the model’s warranty certificate.  You may also get a copy of the warranty from your local, licensed professional Amana brand dealer.

    Register Within 60 Days!

    Why get a 5-year limited warranty when you can get a 10-year parts limited warranty? Aren’t a few minutes of your time worth that extra peace of mind? 

    In order to receive the fullest extent of Amana brand’s air conditioner limited warranty, online registration for qualified purchases should be completed within 60 days of the installation date. If you or your installing dealer has the product information on hand, the process is simple!

    (NOTE: Residents of California and Quebec do not need to register the product in order to get all the rights and remedies of registered owners under the limited warranty.)

    While registration is not required to obtain standard warranty coverage, the registration date may affect the length of your equipment’s limited warranty.

    • If the unit is not registered within the 60-day window of the installation date, the air conditioner’s applicable warranty period is 5 YEARS.
    • If the unit is properly installed and registered online within 60 days after the installation date, the warranty lasts for as long as the original registered owner or his or her spouse own and reside in the home in which the unit was originally installed, for the maximum length of the limited warranty coverage.

    The installation date is defined as:

    • For units installed in a newly constructed residence, the installation date is the date the owner purchases the residence from the builder.
    • For units installed in existing residences, the installation date is the date that the unit is originally installed.

    How to Register for Your Warranty?

    Online registration requires the following information:

    • Homeowner name
    • Homeowner address
    • Contact number
    • Email address
    • Installation date
    • Model and serial numbers
    • Contractor’s name
    • Contractor’s phone number

    How to Confirm the model and serial numbers?

    The location of the model and serial number can vary depending on the size and efficiency level of the outdoor equipment but may be located vertically on the panel next to or above the refrigerant line connection point. The serial number is a ten digit code that helps Amana brand identify the time the unit was produced, as well as the model number and many of the sub-components used on a specific unit. Your installing dealer can assist you in locating the unit’s serial number and model information.

    Additionally, many local Amana brand dealers will affix the “traveler label” from the shipping box to your installation paperwork provided to you.  This label contains the unit’s information and makes it unnecessary for your HVAC dealer to search for the serial number on the unit.


    * Complete warranty details available from your local dealer or at www.amana-hac.com. To receive the 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

    ** Complete warranty details available from your local dealer or at www.amana-hac.com. To receive the Lifetime Unit Replacement Limited Warranty, Lifetime Compressor Limited Warranty (good for as long as you own your home) and 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

     cta_13
    Read More
  • Why, When & How to Register for Your Gas Furnace Limited Warranty*

    Amana brand Gas Furnace Limited Warranty

    When you make a large purchase like a gas furnace, you want the peace of mind that comes from a company that backs its products. The quality that goes into every Amana® brand gas furnace is reflected in the brand’s outstanding limited warranty* coverage.

    Amana brand equipment can either be registered by the homeowner or the installing, licensed professional dealer. However, be sure to confirm your product’s registration process with your dealer to limit any confusion about who will be registering your new gas furnace.

    Why Register My Gas Furnace?

    Without any action, your Amana brand gas furnace comes with a 5-year parts limited warranty.*  But when you register your new Amana brand equipment and meet certain predefined conditions, your gas furnace will qualify for additional enhanced warranty coverage.*

    With predefined registration conditions, Amana brand will furnish a 10-year parts limited warranty that provides replacement part(s) for any part that is found to be defective due to workmanship or materials under normal use and maintenance, and a lifetime heat exchanger limited warranty**(good for as long as you own your home). With predefined registration conditions, select models may include a lifetime unit replacement limited warranty**.

    For specific warranty information, be sure to read your gas furnace model’s limited warranty certificate! To view the warranty certificate for a specific Amana brand gas furnace, please select the gas furnace model of your choice, and then the “Product Limited Warranty*” section. You may also get a copy of your Amana brand gas furnace limited warranty** from your local, licensed professional Amana brand dealer.

    Register Within 60 Days!

    Why get a 5-year warranty when you can get a 10-year parts limited warranty? Aren’t a few minutes of your time worth that extra peace of mind?

    In order to receive the fullest extent of Amana brand’s gas furnace limited warranty, online registration for qualified purchases should be completed within 60 days of the installation date. If you or your qualifying installing dealer has the product information on hand, the process is simple!

    (NOTE: Residents of California and Quebec do not need to register the product in order to get all the rights and remedies of registered owners under the limited warranty.)

    While registration is not required to obtain standard warranty coverage, the registration date may affect the length of your equipment’s limited warranty.

    • If the unit is not registered within the 60-day window of the installation date, the gas furnace’s applicable warranty period is 5 YEARS.
    • If the properly installed unit is registered online within 60 days after the installation date, the applicable warranty lasts for as long as the original registered owner or his or her spouse own and reside in the home in which the unit was originally installed, for the maximum length of the limited warranty coverage.

    The installation date is defined as:

    • For units installed in a newly constructed residence, the installation date is the date the owner purchases the residence from the builder.
    • For units installed in existing residences, the installation date is the date that the unit is originally installed.

    How to Register for Your Warranty?

    Online registration requires the following information:

    • Homeowner name
    • Homeowner address
    • Contact number
    • Email address
    • Installation date
    • Model and serial numbers
    • Contractor’s name
    • Contractor’s phone number

    How to Confirm the Model and Serial Numbers?

    The serial number is a ten digit code that helps Amana brand identify the time the unit was produced, as well as the model number and many of the sub-components used on a specific unit. Your installing, licensed professional HVAC dealer can assist you in locating the unit’s serial number and model information.

    Additionally, many local Amana brand dealers will affix the “traveler label” from the shipping box to your installation paperwork provided to you. This label contains the unit’s information and makes it unnecessary to search for the serial number on the unit.

    * Complete warranty details available from your local dealer or at www.amana-hac.com. To receive the 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

    ** Complete warranty details are available from your local dealer or at www.amana-hac.com. To receive the 10-Year Unit Replacement Limited Warranty, Lifetime Heat Exchanger Limited Warranty (good for as long as you own your home) and 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Online registration is not required in California or Quebec.

    Amana brand peace of mind

     
    Read More
  • What's the Difference between a Heat Pump and Air Conditioner?

    Heat Pump and AC

    The differences between an air conditioner and heat pump can be a hot topic – or cool depending on which way you look at it! From the outside, the two pieces of HVAC equipment may appear nearly identical. Yet, one of them is designed to move heat indoors or outdoors depending on your indoor thermostat or control system settings.

     

    The Cool Similarities

     

    Air conditioners and heat pumps, the outside portion of a split HVAC system, are designed to cool indoor spaces. Each relies on the “closed-loop” refrigeration cycle principle.  This means that the same refrigerant is continuously circulated, passing through the air conditioner or heat pump and the indoor evaporator coil.

    In cooling mode, induced pressure changes from the condenser coil, compressor, evaporator coil and the expansion valve force the state of the refrigerant is to fluctuate between a liquid and gas – moving the heat from your home to the outside.

    Air conditioners and heat pumps keep your home cool in the same manner.1

    1. The warm air from inside your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan. To cool your home, the heat is pulled out of that air.
    2. The air is cooled by blowing it over a set of pipes called an evaporator coil. As the refrigerant flows through the indoor evaporator coil, the refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas as it absorbs heat from the air.
    3. The cooled air is then pushed through connecting ducts to vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature because air with less humidity seems cooler than air that contains a high level of humidity.
    4. The refrigerant is pumped through a closed system to an outdoor coil in the air conditioner or heat pump, where it gives up its heat and changes back into a liquid. This outside coil is called the condenser because the refrigerant is condensing from a gas back to a fluid just like moisture on a cold window.
    5. A pump, called a compressor, is used to move the refrigerant between the two coils and to change the pressure of the refrigerant.
    6. When the indoor temperature reaches the set point on your thermostat or control system, the air conditioner or heat pump pauses until your indoor air gets too hot.
    7. The refrigeration cycle continues as needed for your indoor comfort, year after year, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.

    When comparing an air conditioner to a heat pump, be sure that you compare the various features, SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) value, and the size or tonnage. The performance of the heat pump and air conditioner will only be identical if all of the efficiency aspects are identical, as well.

     

    The Reversing Valve Difference

     

    The heat pump and the air conditioner may rely on the same fundamental refrigeration principle, but there is still one key difference.  If your home needs a heat source, a heat pump system can pull double duty — cooling and heating your home for year-round comfort.

    Unlike an air conditioner, a heat pump is designed with a reversing valve that automatically changes the direction of the refrigerant flow when heat is needed in your home. When the reversing valve flips to heating mode, the refrigerant in the outdoor coil becomes cold enough to absorb heat from the outside air. This is opposite from the cooling mode where the cold indoor coil removes heat from the indoor air.

    When the refrigeration cycle in a heat pump is reversed, it results in warm air being distributed to your home!

    Here’s how it works:

    1. The reversing valve changes the direction of the refrigeration cycle. This causes the outside coil to function as the evaporator and the indoor coil to function as the condenser.
    2. As the refrigerant flows through the outdoor coil, the refrigerant changes from a gas to a liquid as it absorbs heat from the outside air.
    3. Although outside temperatures are cold, enough outdoor heat energy is absorbed by the chilled external coil and released inside by the warm indoor coil in the air handler.
    4. Cool air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan in the air handler.
    5. Once the heat energy is transferred from the indoor coil to the cool indoor air, it becomes warm.
    6. A pump, called a compressor, is used to move the refrigerant between the two coils and to change the pressure of the refrigerant.  
    7. This warm air is pushed through connecting ducts to air vents throughout the home, increasing the interior temperature until it reaches the set point on your thermostat or control system. 
    8. When the indoor temperature reaches the set point on your thermostat or control system, the heat pump pauses until your indoor air gets too cold.
    9. The refrigeration cycle continues, year after year, providing a consistent method to keep you warm.

    Historically, heat pumps were installed in locations that typically experience milder winters. However, today’s technologically advanced heat pumps are being used in some areas with extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.  This means that your heat pump often operates year-round.  Depending on your climate, it’s a good idea to schedule a cooling checkup in the spring and a heating maintenance service call in the fall.

    Amana brand Heat Pump
    1 American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Top Ten Things About Air Conditioning. n.d. https://www.ashrae.org/resources--publications/free-resources/top-ten-things-about-air-conditioning#10. 4 May 2017.

     
    Read More
  • What is Two-Stage Cooling?

    Two Stage Air Conditioner

    Two-stage cooling refers to the type of compressor that’s in the outside air conditioner or heat pump. Two-stage cooling systems have a compressor that runs at two speeds: high and low. This feature allows for two levels of operation depending on your cooling needs — full capacity on hot summer days or part capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a traditional, single-stage unit.

    It’s All About Demand!

    There are times when your indoor space doesn’t need the full cooling capacity of your air conditioner or heat pump. This means that your cooling system doesn’t have to run at 100% in every circumstance. A two-stage air conditioner or heat pump is designed to adjust to load requirements in an energy-efficient manner to meet the indoor temperature set on your thermostat or HVAC control system.

    If the outdoor temperature is high or you lower your thermostat or control system more than a few degrees, the compressor will likely operate at 100% cooling capacity to reach the desired temperature. If your air conditioner only needs to maintain the set temperature, it may not need to run at 100%! This is where two-stage technology comes in!

    For example, if the outdoor temperature is 95°F and the thermostat or control system is set at 75°F, your system might stay at 100% capacity to reach and sustain 75°F. But if the outdoor temperature is only moderately warm, a two-stage system may be able to operate with less capacity to maintain the preset indoor temperature.

    Benefits of Two-Stage Cooling

    The two-stage unit may seem to run longer than a traditional single-stage unit, but this part-capacity operation offers energy-saving benefits that you will feel throughout your home:

    • Consistent Indoor Comfort – With its ability to adjust cooling output, your two-stage air conditioner or heat pump may minimize the peaks and valleys of cooling often found with the ON/OFF cycle of a single-stage unit. The low stage capacity is able to maintain the pre-set temperature longer than if the system turns off when it reaches the pre-set temperature. This allows for steady cooling comfort in your home.
    • Dehumidification - The extended operation of a two-stage air conditioner or heat pump runs longer which removes more moisture from the structure’s interior spaces. While the main job of the air conditioner or heat pump is to condition the air to a set temperature, these comfort-creating pieces of equipment may lower the indoor humidity level as a by-product of the cooling process.  Better humidity control leaves you with more comfortable interior air. When humidity levels are better controlled, you may be able to increase the set temperature on your thermostat or control system and still be comfortable in your home.
    • Energy-Efficient – You may think that because a two-stage cooling unit operates longer than a single-stage unit that it would use more electricity, but electricity usage peaks when a system turns ON. The capacity of the air conditioner or heat pump compressor changes to meet the cooling demand and therefore reduces energy consumption. 

    While full cooling capacity provides indoor comfort on the hottest days of the year, the extended operation at the part capacity helps maintain the indoor temperature for a longer period of time and dehumidifies the conditioned air in the process. With two-stage cooling, your air conditioner or heat pump may help you enjoy steady and consistent cooling when compared to the single-speed unit.

    cta_8

    Read More
  • How a Gas Furnace Works to Keep You Warm

    How a Gas Furnace Keep You Warm


    When the temperature drops, you may look to your gas furnace to keep your home warm. Instead of wearing layers and layers of clothing inside your home, your central gas heating system was designed to increase the indoor temperature by warming the cooler indoor air.

    The Mighty BTU

     

    The heating capacity of a gas furnace is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). A BTU equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU output, the more powerful the heating system.  

    In real-world terms, the energy released by a single burning match is approximately equal to one BTU.1 A typical home may require thousands of BTUs during to keep you cozy and warm during the cold months. Ironically, the BTU is rarely used in Great Britain because it is a non-metric measurement. 

     
     

    The Goldilocks Principle

     

    No one like the uncomfortable feeling of being ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold!’ A central gas heating system should be able to provide a consistent amount of warmth to keep you comfortable inside your home. However, that means your gas furnace must be sized correctly with the appropriate amount of BTUs for your home. A “just right” size furnace can provide the precise balance of comfort and cost-efficiency. To establish this precision, it’s important to have a licensed professional HVAC technician calculate the right size gas furnace for your home.

    If your furnace is sized too small, it might not be able to keep up with the demand on cold days, leaving you with a consistent chill in the house. Depending on the indoor vs. outdoor temperature difference, an undersized may have to run continuously to try to maintain your thermostat setting. Over time, this strain can diminish its performance, potentially increasing utility bills and resulting in unnecessary wear and tear on critical components.

    An oversized gas furnace can create bursts of warm air. If your furnace is too large for your home, it will heat rooms very quickly and then shut off. This rush of heated air can trick thermostats into shutting off the system before the whole house is at temperature.

    This can leave you reaching for a sweater in between cycles! Repeatedly turning on and off can be hard on your furnace, potentially reducing its lifespan.

    To make sure your gas furnace is sized properly, contact your licensed professional HVAC technician. 

     

    How a Central Gas Furnace Works

     

    Simply put, a central gas heating system creates a cycle of warming cooler air. Here is the simple version:
     
    1. Propane or natural gas generates controlled heat in the furnace's burner.
    2. The heat produced passes through a heat exchanger, making it hot.
    3. Air from the home's ductwork is blown over the heat exchanger, warming the air.
    4. The furnace's blower then forces the heated air into the supply ductwork, distributing it throughout the home.
     
    Of course, there are many system components must work together to keep you cozy and comfortable inside your home.
     
    Temperature Control: The temperature control, which is regulated by the furnace control board, turns on the ignition switch. This starts the heating process when the thermostat or control system calls for heat.
     
    Ignition switch: Gas flows over the igniter to establish a flame. This flame is drawn through the burners and used to heat the heat exchanger.
     
    Draft Induced Fan: The draft induced fan draws air into the burner assembly. The air also allows the burners to warm the heat exchanger.
     
    Gas Burners:  When the thermostat or control system calls for heat, the gas burner valves are open to deliver gas and burn fuel.
     
    Heat exchanger: The part of a gas furnace that adds heat to the indoor air. The gas combusts inside the heat exchanger, creating heat that is used to heat the passing air. The design of the heat exchanger can add energy efficient operation of a gas furnace.
     
    Blower Fan: Uses the return venting to blow air over the hot heat exchanger.  The conditioned air is then sent throughout your home via ductwork. Some furnace models offer a blower fan that can run at multiple speeds to improve efficiency.
     
    Flue: A flue or chimney acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products of combustion used to create heat. 
     
     

    Gas Furnace Options

     

    Gas furnaces come in a variety of shapes to fit your space. However, they can also be categorized by one of the following:
     
    • Non-condensing furnaces - vent exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.
    • Condensing furnaces - uses a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases to reach higher efficiencies.
    • A modulating gas furnace - continuously regulates the amount of fuel burned to maintain the set temperature of your thermostat. This modulating component can minimize indoor temperature fluctuations.

    Amana® ENERGY STAR™ Gas Furnaces
    1 Energy Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/EnergyExplained/?page=about_btu

    Read More
  • Heat Pump or Gas Furnace - What’s the Difference?

    Heat Pump and Gas Furnace Comparison


    What’s the Difference


    When indoor temperature starts to fall below 67°F, many homeowners consider turning on their home heating system. Air-source heat pumps and gas furnaces are two of the most common types of central residential heating systems.

    Efficiency and Performance Ratings


    *SEER:
      The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio measures a heat pump’s annual energy consumption and cooling efficiency in typical day-to-day use. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.  

    *HSPF: The Heating Season Performance Factor measures the efficiency of air source heat pumps. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heating performance of the heat pumps. New units in the United States have HSPF ratings from 7.0 to 9.4. 

    *AFUE: Measures the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency for gas furnaces.  This measurement describes how well fuel is consumed to produce heat by a gas furnace. As the AFUE rate increases, the efficiency of your gas furnace also increases. New furnaces manufactured in the United States are required to have at least an 80% AFUE.

    cta_5

    Read More
  • How a Heat Pump Works for Year-Round Indoor Comfort

    How a heat pump works

    With the help of advanced technology and the refrigeration cycle, a heat pump is designed to provide year-round indoor comfort – no matter the season! 

    A heat pump transfers heat from one place to another.

    In the warmer months, the heat pump can act as an air conditioner - drawing out interior heat and humidity, and redirecting it to the outside. During colder months, heat from the outdoor air is extracted and transferred to the interior of your home. Even on a 32°F day, a properly installed heat pump can gather enough heat energy to warm your home. 

    For example, when there is a temperature difference such as your 98.6°F body and 32°F air, heat is transferred from the warmer object to the cooler air. This is why you start to feel cold! So when you're trying to pull heat energy from 32°F air, you have to put it in contact with something even colder. That's the job of the refrigerant in a heat pump.

    Colder months: Heat pumps pulls heat from the outside air and transfer the heat to your home. 
    Warmer months: Heat pumps pulls warm air and humidity from inside your home and transfer it outside, leaving cooler air indoors.


    Components of a Heat Pump

     

    To get a better idea of how your air is heated or cooled, it helps to know a little bit about the parts that make up the heat pump system. A typical air-source heat pump system is a split or two-part system that uses electricity as its power source. The system contains an outdoor unit that looks similar to an air conditioner and an indoor air handler. The heat pump works in conjunction with the air handler to distribute the warm or cool air to interior spaces. In addition to the electrical components and a fan, a heat pump system includes: 

    Compressor: Moves the refrigerant through the system. Some heat pumps contain a scroll compressor. When compared to a piston compressor, scroll compressors are quieter, have a longer lifespan, and provide 10° to 15°F warmer air when in the heating mode.1

    Control board: Controls whether the heat pump system should be in cooling, heating or defrost mode. 

    Coils:  The condenser and evaporating coil heat or cool the air depending on the directional flow of refrigerant. 

    Refrigerant:  The substance in the refrigeration lines that circulates through the indoor and outdoor unit.

    Reversing valves
    : Change the flow of refrigerant which determines if your interior space is cooled or heated. 

    Thermostatic expansion valves:  Regulate the flow of refrigerant just like a faucet valve regulates the flow of water. 

    The accumulator:  A reservoir that adjusts the refrigerant charge depending on the seasonal needs.

    Refrigeration lines and pipes:  Connect the inside and outside equipment.

    Heat strips: An electric heat element is used for auxiliary heat. This added component is used to add additional heat on cold days or to recover from a lower set back temperature quickly.

    Ducts:  Serve as air tunnels to the various spaces inside your home.

    Thermostat or control system: Sets your desired temperature.

    Air Conditioning Mode

     

    When properly installed and operating in the cooling mode, a heat pump can help maintain cool, comfortable temperatures while reducing humidity levels inside your home.

    1. Warm air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan.
    2. A compressor circulates refrigerant between the indoor evaporator and outdoor condensing units. 
    3. The warm air indoor air then travels to the air handler while refrigerant is pumped from the exterior condenser coil to the interior evaporator coil. The refrigerant absorbs the heat as it passes over the indoor air.
    4. This cooled and dehumidified air is then pushed through connecting indoor ducts to air vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature.
    5. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.

    Heat Mode

     

    Heat pumps have been used for many years in locations that typically experience milder winters. However, air-source heat pump technology has advanced over the past five years, enabling these systems to be used in areas with extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.2 

    1. A heat pump switches from cooling mode to heating mode by reversing the refrigeration cycle, making the outside coil function as the evaporator and the indoor coil as the condenser.
    2. The refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the outdoor and the indoor unit.
    3. Although outdoor temperatures are cold, enough heat energy is absorbed from the outside air by the condenser coil and release inside by the evaporator coil.
    4. Air from the inside of your house is pulled into ductwork by a motorized fan. 
    5. The refrigerant is pumped from the interior coil to the exterior coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air.
    6. This warmed air is then pushed through connecting ducts to air vents throughout the home, increasing the interior temperature.
    7. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you warm.

    Defrosting a Heat Pump

     

    Don’t panic! It is quite common to see frost or even ice on your heat pump. The process of transferring heat to the refrigerant can cause excess moisture to build up on the coil. This excess moisture can freeze during extremely cold temperatures. The good news is that your heat pump was designed for this! 

    A properly functioning heat pump has a defrost mode that kicks in when it detects ice buildup.  The unit simply reverses the refrigerant cycle, and the heat is directed to the outdoor coil. While this is happening, the backup or auxiliary heat strips are used to heat your home until the ice is melted.  

    However, if your heat pump does not thaw the ice buildup, it may be an indication that something isn’t working properly. If this occurs, call your local, licensed profession HVAC dealer to have the unit inspected.

    1 Heat Pump Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-systems
    2 Air-Source Heat Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/air-source-heat-pumps

    Amana brand heat pump


    Read More
  • How an Air Conditioner Works?

    A1_house_ac

    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.

    Amana brand air conditioners

    Read More
  • What is a Heating and Cooling Packaged System?

    AmanaLC_11_PackagedSystem_Nov_2017_red

    When indoor space is limited, you may need to find alternatives for essential heating and cooling equipment. Any home can use a packaged unit to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, but they’re ideal for homes that do not have a designated interior location for heating and cooling equipment. If this sounds familiar, a packaged system may be right for you!

    The Packaged Unit – The All-in-One Alternative

     

    A packaged system is an “all-in-one system” that can provide both cooling and heating from a single-boxed cabinet that sits outside the home.  These cabinet systems can be installed outdoors at ground level, in a crawl space under a home, or on a rooftop. The single location frees up internal spaces for “usable” square footage, such as additional closet space.

    A packaged system offers homeowners energy-efficient flexibility. Depending on the energy source available in your location, you may have the option use natural gas, electricity, or a combination of the two. This flexibility may give you more control over the type and amount of energy your HVAC system will use to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.
     

    Types of Packaged Units

     

    Packaged units come in multiple forms:

    Packaged Air Conditioners: Unlike a split system, the compressor, coils, air handler are all housed in the single-boxed cabinet. The packaged air conditioner can also provide limited warmth by using an electrical strip heating.

    Packaged Heat Pumps:  A packaged heat pump uses heat pump technology to cool and heat your home.

    Packaged Gas-Electric: The packaged gas-electric unit combines an air conditioner with gas-powered furnace performance.

    Packaged Dual-Fuel: The packaged dual fuel system contains a heat pump, capable of heating and cooling, as well as a gas furnace. This type of packaged system optimizes the heating source for the conditions.

     

    How a Packaged System Works

     

    Operation depends on the specific configuration of the packaged system. The system typically heats and cools your home the same way their stand-alone counterparts do, however, the ducting with a single cabinet system is slightly different. In a packaged system, the duct work is attached to the system rather than connecting to various components in your home.


    Packaged System Air Condition Component

    • By using electricity as its power source, the unit’s internal components cycle the refrigerant. 
    • Warm air is pulled in by a fan and then passes over the cold evaporator coil, cooling it in the process.
    • The cooled, dehumidified air is pushed through ducts to the various spaces inside your home. 


    Packaged System Heating Component


    Packaged Air Conditioners: In addition to the typical cooling feature associated with an air conditioner, packaged air conditioners are capable of producing limited heat with heat strip elements. With electricity as the fuel source, the heat strips are warmed, and the air is heated as it flows over the strips.  The warm air then travels through ducting to increase the interior temperature of your home. This type of electricity-based heating is mainly used in warmer climates where heat is only used occasionally.

    Packaged Heat Pumps:  The heat pump transfers heat by reversing the refrigeration cycle used by a typical air conditioner. Through a cycle of evaporation and condensation, the indoor coils are heated, and the air is pushed over the warm coils. From there, the warmed air is blown through the ductwork to increase the temperature in the interior rooms of your home.

    Packaged Gas-Electric:  The heating component of a packaged gas-electric system is a gas furnace. The heating portion of the system uses natural gas or propane to combust inside the heat exchanger, creating heat. As cool air from the interior spaces is pulled in through the return ducting, the blower motor then blows the air over and through the hot heat exchanger, heating the air. The warm air is then circulated throughout the home through the ductwork.

    Packaged Dual-Fuel: Your dual-fuel packaged system has two heating options: a heat pump and a gas furnace. When installed and configured correctly, your dual fuel system can determine whether it’s more economical to heat your home using electricity or gas. When moderate heating is required, the heat pump automatically reverses from the air condition mode to provide warm air. When temperatures fall further, the system uses the gas furnace to provide reliable, consistent heat.

     Amana brand Packaged Units
    Read More