HVAC 101

  • Four Benefits of Inverter Technology

    Inverter article image

    HOT, COLD, HOT, COLD – What if you could reduce these indoor temperature variations while keeping utility bills low? A cooling system with inverter technology may be a great solution for your home.

    If you have opened your refrigerator lately, you’ve probably encountered inverter technology. It was introduced to homes in the 1980s and has been continuously enhanced and deployed through a variety of household products - from refrigerators to whole-home indoor comfort systems. 

    Indoor comfort systems with inverter technology are designed to automatically adjust the compressor – the heart of your air conditioner - to ensure a consistent temperature while using the lowest amount of energy. As a result, you may experience more of that “just right” indoor temperature with minimal fluctuations.

    So why upgrade your indoor comfort system to one with inverter technology? Here are four great reasons to upgrade your system: 

    1) High-Efficiency = Smart Savings
    Inverter technology is engineered to use the lowest amount of energy required to maintain the temperature you select on your home’s thermostat. That could help keep your energy costs low, especially when the outdoor temperatures heat up.

    2) Consistent Indoor Comfort
    The continuous, steady adjustments of a home cooling system with inverter technology helps minimize temperature swings that can result in your home feeling uncomfortably warm or cold. 

    3) Enhanced Indoor Air Quality
    A non-inverter system will turn ON to cool the air down until it reaches the desired set point, then turn OFF to avoid over-cooling. However, between the time the system shuts OFF and restarts, the humidity levels may begin to build again within a home. For homeowners in hot and humid climates, an inverter system may help maintain indoor humidity levels by continually dehumidifying the home to balance the heat load.

    4) Proven Reliability
    Continuous and steady adjustments that come with inverter technology may contribute to the durability and longevity of your system by helping to reduce the wear and tear on your cooling system’s compressor. 

    Even though the price tag of a system without inverter technology might look more appealing, you may spend more on your utility bills over time. Inverter technology is highly energy efficient. This means you may see reduced energy consumption over the life of your system, while also enjoying a more comfortable home. 

    To discover the available indoor comfort systems with inverter technology, ask your local, independent Goodman® dealer about the various options and the potential cost saving.

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  • 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

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  • 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

      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.


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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • Today's Heat Pumps: That Cozy Comfort Feeling, Decades in the Making

    History of Heat Pumps Popularity

    Like phones, televisions, and even cars, today’s split heat pump systems are very different from the originals installed in homes decades ago. Over time, their indoor comfort effectiveness and energy-efficient heat transfer properties have allowed heat pumps to grow in popularity - gaining approval from homeowners across the country.

    Evolution of the Heat Pump

    Every generation is shaped by world events and major cultural, political, and economic influences. These events have also impacted the evolution and popularity of the split system heat pump. Let’s look at the generational breakdown of the evolution of the split system, air-source heat pump:

    • Baby Boomer (born approximately between 1946 and 1964):

      In the 1950 and 60s, heat pumps were becoming an electric heating option for the residential marketplace. By the late 1960s, the average Baby Boomer was in their 20s and purchasing their first home. Suburban neighborhoods continued to expand across the country. Although air conditioners were available in some of these new homes, heat pumps were not a conventional heat source.

      According to the 1960 US Census, only 1.8% of homes used electricity as a source of heat.1 Nearly 81% used some form of ‘fuel’ to keep their home warm in the cold months of the year.1 By the 1970 US Census, 7.7% of households used electricity as a source of heat.1

    • Generation X (born approximately between 1965 and 1980): By the 1970s, an oil crisis was in full swing with many Generation Xers witnessing the full brunt of its impacts. As a result of the crisis, the heat pump became a more popular choice for heating and cooling homes because they used electricity instead of fuel.2 The decreased supply of fuel increased the cost, which may have played a significant factor in this growth. By 1980, 18.4% of homes used electricity as a source of heat, more than doubling the rate of the previous decade.3

      Before 1980, the heat pump may have been merely an available alternative to fuel. Heat pumps, which have energy-efficient heat transfer properties, had a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 6 or less and a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) of below 5. Energy-efficiency and conservation didn’t seem to be the primary objective. By 1992, the energy conservation movement was in full swing, and Generation X’s push for more energy-efficient products was evident. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) raised the minimum energy-efficiency standards of heat pumps to 10 SEER/ 6.8 HSPF.
    • Millennial (born approximately between 1981 and 1994): By the early 2000s, the average Millennial was a teenager, and energy efficiency was a mainstream concept. During this time, nearly 67% of the population were used fuels as a heat source and 30.3% used electricity 4 Yet, energy conservation and minimizing environmental impacts continued to be an actionable 

      priority. In 2006, the DOE raised the minimum required SEER/HSPF standards for split system heat pumps from 10 SEER/6.8 HSPF to 13 SEER/7.7 HSPF nationwide.

      By 2016, Millennials became the largest sector in the U.S. labor force, and the DOE once again raised the minimum SEER/HSPF requirement for split system heat pumps.5

    • Generation Z (1995 to early 2000s): Born during a time of technological innovation, Generation Z is accustomed to accessing information at their fingertips. In 2011, smart thermostats, such as the Google Nest, started populating the marketplace and indoor comfort could be controlled from mobile devices. As a result, some segments of Generation Z will never live in an environment with any other form of indoor temperature control.

      By 2015, the majority of Generation Z was enrolled in school and nearly 12.1 million households used electric heat pumps for indoor comfort.6

      By 2020 the first waves of Generation Z were absorbed into the workforce and first-time home ownership was a reality for a few in their mid-20s. Meanwhile, heating and cooling equipment manufacturers continued to embrace technology-based, energy-efficiency advancements such as inverter technology. Heat pumps installations were increasing and shipments of air source heat pumps continued to escalate at a record pace.7

    • Generation Alpha (early 2010s to 2020s)

      This young generation is growing up in a fully digital world where it's commonplace for technology to set expectations. By 2023, the heating and cooling industry continues to evolve and heat pump adoption numbers continue to rise.

      Based on the data, advancements in heat pump technology are resulting in greater adoption across the U.S. as a heating and cooling equipment source. From 2018 to 2022, according to Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) data, there was nearly a 68% jump in shipments of heat pumps from U.S. manufacturers.8

       2022 Shipments 2021 Shipments   2020 Shipments  2019 Shipments  2018 Shipments
    Heat Pumps   4,334,479  3,916,766  3,418,478  3,109,840  2,940,502

    NOTE: AHRI defines a shipment as when a unit transfers ownership from a manufacturer.8

    As communities across the country are engaging in decarbonization and sustainability efforts, generations of citizens are embracing heat pumps and electrification. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included a 10-year, historic plan to encourage customers to invest in energy-saving retrofits and replace inefficient HVAC systems. This legislation includes significant rebates and increased tax incentives for homeowners to replace fossil-fuel systems with eligible, high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® products. As part of this policy, qualified homeowners may be eligible for up to a $2,000 tax credit for eligible heat pumps. In the coming decade, Generation Alpha will certainly be influenced by the current decarbonization policies and the push for heat pump adoption.

    What will indoor comfort expectations be like for a generation where technology sets expectations?

    There may come a time when homeowners ‘expect’ their heat pump to directly communicate status updates either to them, or their HVAC professional. Will their notion of “normal” extend to home heating and cooling equipment? Only time will tell!

    More Heat Pump Options

    Historically, air source heat pumps were only installed for homes in milder climates. However, in recent years, technology and engineering has allowed heat pumps to create a cozy, comfortable, electric heating alternative for homes in colder regions. Today’s cold climate heat pumps systems are now being installed from Alaska to Florida.9

    Unlike the heat pump systems of the past, some of today’s models are equipped with inverter technology, like the Amana® brand S Series Heat Pump. Heat pumps with inverter technology are designed to control and modulate the electrical current running into the compressor’s motor, the heart of the indoor comfort system. This energy-saving technology allows the heat pump to adjust how much energy is needed to maintain indoor comfort. If looking to reduce Co2 emissions by investing in a heat pump, consider one that includes the benefits of inverter technology

    Additional advancements, including design and engineering evolutions, smart controls, and other mechanics that simplify installation have also impacted the indoor comfort and energy costs associated with residential heat pumps.

    "Smart" Home Comfort

    Numerous smart thermostats now offer a wide range of control features and connectivity with virtual assistants and smartphones, making it easier to align your heat pump operation with your lifestyle. As technology continues to become more integrated into heating and cooling equipment, the future of heat pumps will most likely evolve.

    Imagine a technician contacting you because they received a diagnosis notification from your heat pump. This technician could potentially arrive at your home for a repair or proactive maintenance before you ever experience an uncomfortable temperature in your home. Future generations may never know what it is like to walk into a hot or cold home on a sweltering or frigid day! Isn’t that a comforting thought!

    Discover Amana brand heat pumps

    1, 3, 4 United States Census Bureau. (2011, October 31). Historical Census of Housing Tables. Retrieved from Census of Housing: https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/dec/coh-fuels.html.
    2 Cormany, Charles. The Perfect Solution, and Why it is Not Working. 19 January 2017. http://www.efficiencyfirstca.org/news/2017/01/19/perfect-solution-and-why-it-not-working. 30 July 2017.
    5 Pew Research Center. The Generations Defined. 8 May 2015. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/ 15 Feb 2023.
    6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. households’ heating equipment choices are diverse and vary by climate region, April 6, 2017. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30672
    7. AHRI, Monthly Shipments Feb 12, 2021 https://www.ahrinet.org/sites/default/files/2023-02/Dec2020StatisticalRelease_4.pdf
    8. International Energy Agency, Heat Pumps, September 2022 https://www.iea.org/reports/heat-pumps
    9. Vanessa Stevens, Colin Craven, Robbin Garber-Slaght. Air Source Heat Pumps in Southeast Alaska. Fairbanks: Cold Climate Housing Research Center, 2013. http://www.cchrc.org/sites/default/files/docs/ASHP_final_0.pdf

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  • What is a Heating and Cooling Packaged System?


    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
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  • 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.


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  • How an Air Conditioner Works?


    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

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