Everything you wanted to know about Air Conditioning
HVAC (Heating - Ventilation - Air Conditioning) can sometimes be overwhelming. Here we'll break down some of the most commonly used terms in the business, so the next time you call your heating and air conditioning service specialist for help, you'll impress the expert!
Air Conditioning, HVAC for Dummies
Air conditioner: A mechanical device used to control temperature and air movement in a confined space.
BTU/H: (British Thermal Units per Hour): A measure of cooling or heating capacity.
Capacity or Load: A refrigeration rating system usually measured in Btu/h.
Compressor: A refrigeration or air-conditioning system pump that circulates refrigerant through pipes between an outdoor and indoor unit using pressure.
- Ductless Mini-Split: Ductless systems consist of one or more outdoor compressor units and indoor air-handling units, called “heads”, linked by a dedicated refrigerant line. There is no ductwork required.
External Static Pressure (ESP): Measure of static pressure losses from ductwork, fittings, dampers, grills, and any other devices located in the airstream.
- Freon: See Refrigerant.
Heat pump: An air conditioning system that provides either heating or cooling - because it can reverse the direction of refrigerant flow.
HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor): A rating of the seasonal efficiency of a heat pump unit when operating in the heating mode.
Indoor unit: The air handler of the air conditioning system. It contains a heat exchange coil, filters, remote signal receiver and fan.
Outdoor Unit: A component of the air conditioning system which contains the compressor, fan, circuit board, and heat exchange coil. It pumps refrigerant to or from the indoor unit.
Refrigerant: Many people commonly refer to refrigerant as Freon, which is actually a 'brand' name (much like Kleenex). Refrigerant is a gas/liquid substance that is used to provide cooling, by direct absorption of heat. The most environmentally-friendly refrigerant at this time is R410A.
Refrigerant lines: Insulated copper tubing through which refrigerant flows to and from the indoor and outdoor unit.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): The rating of the seasonal efficiency of air conditioning or heating units. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit is.
Split-Ductless System: A system comprised of a remote outdoor condensing unit connected by refrigerant pipes to a matching, non-ducted indoor air handler and a remote controller. Special cases for introducing ventilated air may call for limited ducting to air handler from outside.
Split-zoning System: A system comprised of a remote outdoor condensing unit connected by refrigerant pipes to a matching, indoor air handler that conditions single or multiple room space that is conditioned to a set temperature and is independent from other rooms within the same structure.
Zone (zoning): A single or multiple room space that is conditioned to a set temperature and is independent from other rooms within the same structure.
A trained and licensed HVAC contractor can help you determine the appropriate options for your home's air conditioning. For more information, contact the Total Comfort Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning Service website or call us at (781) 697-9016.
How to keep your central air conditioning system running efficiently
Our customers and subscribers have asked for suggestions on how to reduce the energy costs associated with home cooling during the summer months. To help, we’ve compiled this list for easy reference, and to easily share with friends and family, too!
Looking for ways to beat the heat? July has been a scorcher in Burlington, and neighboring Massachusetts areas it looks like August will bring more of the same.
Try these tips to keep your air conditioning system running efficiently:
- Replace filters regularly! This is one of the easiest things to do yet one of the most commonly overlooked. Filters should be replaced monthly, so make it a habit by keeping a supply of filters on hand.
- Set your thermostat and leave it. Pick a temperature that you are comfortable with (perhaps 75°) and keep it at a constant setting. Turning the thermostat down doesn’t affect the temperature of the air blowing out of your vents. It makes the system run longer, not colder.
- Keep curtains, drapes and blinds closed, especially on the west-facing side of your house.
- Shade your air conditioner. Your unit works harder if it is in an area that receives full sun.
- Don’t block the AC unit. Keep air flow free from obstructions.
- Keep household appliances that produce heat far away from your thermostat. You don’t want an adjacent TV or water heater to contribute to a false thermostat temperature.
- Caulk around window frames to seal any leaks and check weather stripping.
- Invest in a few good ceiling fans or some smaller portable fans. Fans provide evaporative cooling as you sweat. If you buy a ceiling fan with lights, opt for those with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (pin-type) CFL’s, which last up to 15 times as long as incandescent bulbs.
- If your home has a fireplace, don’t send cool air up the chimney – close the damper and shut glass doors.
- Schedule regular service on your air conditioning system. Your system’s refrigerant charge needs to be checked annually, and the AC unit needs to be cleaned professionally. A/C Maintenance ensures your system is running at peak efficiency.
If you are concerned about obtaining optimal efficiency from your Air Conditioning system, be sure to schedule an A/C system maintenance check with your HVAC contractor. A professional will check multiple factors to ensure all air conditioning system components are operating properly, and that the system is meeting the manufacturer’s expectations for efficiency.
Finally there’s some good news from Washington DC. Relief has been provided to homeowners that have made energy efficiency improvements in 2013 or plan to invest in such improvements this year.
While representatives haggled over the notorious “Fiscal Cliff” earlier this year, Congress voted to extend the popular Federal tax credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency. This serves as an incentive to upgrade systems in existing homes by installing energy- efficient air conditioning systems, heat pumps and hot water heaters. Other improvements such as roofing, windows and insulation may also qualify.
The tax credit amount varies depending on the type of energy-efficient heating and air conditioning component(s) installed. To be eligible, the products must be installed in a home that you own and serves as your primary residence.
Central Air Conditioning products must meet certain minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) or Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) to qualify. Heat Pumps are given a Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). The higher the SEER, EER or HSPF, the more efficient the system is.
Which heating and air conditioning improvements are eligible for the Federal tax credit?
Central Air Conditioning Systems (CACs)
- Split Systems (outdoor compressor, indoor evaporator coil and air handler) 16 SEER, 13 EER or above
- Package Systems (all-in-one outdoor pack) rated 14 SEER, 12 EER or above
- Tax Credit amount: 10% of cost, maximum credit: $300.00
Geothermal Heat Pumps
- All Energy Star qualified heat pumps are eligible
- Tax Credit amount: 30% of cost, no upper limit
Air Source Heat Pumps
- Split Systems with a minimum 8.5 HSPF, 12.5 EER, or 15 SEER
- Package Systems with a minimum 8 HSPF, 12 EER, or 14 SEER
- Tax Credit amount: 10% of cost, maximum credit: $300.00
Natural Gas, Propane or Oil Furnaces and Boilers
- Must be rated AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) 95% or above
- Tax Credit amount: 10% of cost, maximum credit: $150.00
Most of the tax credits allow inclusion of the cost of installation in the eligible amount, but there is a lifetime maximum credit allowance of $500.00. If you have or plan to install energy-efficient products, call Total Comfort Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning in Burlington, MA – to consult with professional HVAC experts and find out if any other rebates are available. Be sure to also consult a tax advisor for specific details when filing your tax r
Ductless air conditioning is quickly gaining popularity in the US, as it is in Europe and Asia over recent years – for many reasons. A Ductless (mini-split) AC unit is an efficient and affordable alternative to the traditional central heating and air conditioning systems that require a network of duct lines to circulate air.
In older homes that have no ducts or a newly-built home that doesn’t use forced-air heat (with no ductwork), installing a central A/C system can be extremely costly. Opting for a ductless air conditioner or even multiple units to cool different zones in the home is a more affordable solution.
Multi-zone outdoor units connect more than two indoor units, providing individualized comfort control to different areas within the home. For example, the Mitsubishi Ductless outdoor multi-zone units can be configured for as many as four or more individual ductless air conditioning units. Mini-split systems also are excellent for sun rooms and homes with hydronic heating.
Ductless indoor units (also known as ductless mini-splits) can also be controlled with convenient remote controls – both wireless and wall-mounted programmable touch-screen thermostat controls and WI-FI.
7 benefits of Ductless Air Conditioning:
- Energy- efficient technology, Environmentally-friendly
- Easy to install & operate
- Compact in size
- Quiet Operation
- Allergen Filtration
- Precise and total Comfort Control
And number 7, they save money. Ductless air conditioning uses less energy than traditional air conditioning systems, which can dramatically reduce your energy usage. For zoned systems, you can control individual room temperature and only use energy where and when you need it!
Consult with an HVAC professional to determine if a ductless air conditioning system is a viable option for your home and to get recommendations on which product options are right for you. Diamond Contractors that specialize in ductless A/C system installation and trained experts like those at Total Comfort Mechanical in Massachusetts can give you a quick estimate and also find out if any other rebates and tax credits are available.