Next Generation Air & Heat, Inc. Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Palm Shores’

Air Conditioning Guide: Save Energy and Save Money This Summer

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Though we hate to admit it, we all do it without thinking: turn our Cocoa Beach AC higher instead of turning on a fan, or forget about the thermostat settings which are set to full-blast when we are not at home.  Oftentimes it is the simple things which can have the most impact, and with saving energy this is true as well.

With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately. To learn more about how to use your Cocoa Beach air conditioning system more efficiently, give Next Generation Air & Heat a call!

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Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning a heat pump in Palm Shores is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a Palm Shores professional, like Next Generation Air and Heat, annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

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Orlando Heat Pump Repair Question: Why Won’t My Heat Pump Start?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

If you are having trouble with your Orlando home’s heat pump, you may be surprised to learn that it is probably not the heat pump that is to blame, especially if the trouble is that it simply won’t start up. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s true: the heat pump can be in perfect working order but still not turn on.

The good news, then, is that your heat pump is fine and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to fix or replace it. Still though, these types of problems can very frustrating to diagnose and correct. Here are four common culprits when a heat pump won’t start:

  1. No power to the heat pump. Check your breaker box to see if the circuit breaker was tripped. If so, reset it and see if that fixes the problem. Another possibility is that your heat pump is wired to a wall switch, or that there is a switch on the unit itself. Make sure the switch is turned on.
  2. Make sure the thermostat is set to the proper mode, such as “heat” mode if you desire more heat. It seems overly simple, but sometimes the trouble is as simple as that.
  3. A recently replaced thermostat. If you recently upgraded or replaced the thermostat in your home, it’s possible that something went wrong that is preventing your heat pump from starting. It may be the wrong kind of thermostat – heat pumps require a specific type – or it may have been improperly wired.
  4. Finally, the heat pump may have its own circuit breaker on the air handler cabinet. This is often the case with heat pumps that have supplemental electric elements. If that breaker is tripped, that could cause the problems you are experiencing.

If you exhaust these problems and the problem persists or recurs – for example, if the circuit breaker trips again – call an Orlando contractor to work on your heat pump. There may be something larger at work that is causing problems in the electrical system that controls your heat pump, and that requires some expertise to properly address.

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Home Heating Guide: The Hardest HVAC Maintenance

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Do you hate to work on your own mechanical equipment in your Satellite Beach home, like furnaces and plumbing fixtures? You aren’t alone. Many people are not cut out to be do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). They prefer to hand off their maintenance and repair chores to qualified professional. That’s not a bad thing. But there are lots of DIYers who prefer to work on their own home repairs – and those are the people who aren’t afraid to take on the most challenging jobs.

If you are looking for good ideas on how to maintain your home’s heating and cooling (HVAC) system beyond the normal filter changeouts, here are some good things to check – things that will help with the overall performance of your Satellite Beach HVAC system.

  1. Check the ventilation system. The ventilation carries conditioned air from a main source throughout your home.  It takes a little time and effort to check your ventilation system for things like cracks or leaks around joints, but it is an important maintenance task. You may even find separations between joints or holes caused by nails. A leaky ventilation system could be sending conditioned air into attics, walls, or crawlspaces and making your furnace work extra hard just to keep your living areas warm and comfortable. Take time to visually inspect as much of your ventilation system as possible – usually metal or flex duct – and repair using joint glue, metal filler, or duct tape.
  2. Inspect the insulation. Your heating system works in conjunction with the insulation in your home to provide comfort and warmth while saving you on high utility bills. A home that is poorly insulated or not insulated at all will cause a furnace to work harder and not only send utility bills higher, but increase the possibility of mechanical failure. Replacing or adding insulation in walls and crawlspaces is a relatively easy, yet time-consuming task. You can roll down or tack up fiber insulation or blow in insulation into walls. You can also seal up cracks on your home’s walls, roof, or foundation with a number of different products. Once again, your goal is to make your heating system work less and save you money.
  3. Check the visible components of the furnace. A build-up of dust and dirt can make the moving components of your furnace work even harder, such as the motors, fan belts, contactors, etc. If you live in an area where there is lots of dust and humidity or if your home has several occupants and/or animals, it is particularly important to check your system on a regular basis. This can be done by removing the access panels and taking a vacuum cleaner hose into as many areas as possible. A good, thorough vacuuming should produce immediate results and make your furnace run much more efficiently.

Try these three steps and you may not have to repeat them for another year or so – possibly not ever again while you live in your Satellite Beach home.

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Is a Heat Pump Right for Your Vero Beach Home?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Deciding which type of home comfort system to go with in Vero Beach can be a difficult process to navigate. There are a ton of factors to take into account including how much you will be using the system, what type of fuel you mainly rely on and what the specific climate is like where you live.

Heat pumps are a great home comfort solution for many people but they aren’t always the appropriate choice. However, there are many benefits to going with a heat pump system, so this is certainly an option you should keep in mind as you evaluate your options.

Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and then transferring that heat to another space. For instance, in the winter, heat pumps take heat from the outside air and pump it into your house. In the summer, on the other hand, your heat pump will be able to take heat from your indoor air and pump it back outside, thereby keeping your home cool and comfortable.

Heat pumps are also extremely energy efficient because they don’t actually have to generate the heat they pump. Unlike furnaces, which take in fuel and convert it into heat, heat pumps simply harness the heat that’s already there, making them by far the more energy efficient option.

Another benefit to heat pumps is that they maintain a more constant temperature than many other types of heating systems do. Rather than pumping in a big blast of hot air and then waiting until the temperature indoors falls below a preset level before doing it again, heat pumps provide a relatively constant stream of warm air.

The initial amount of heat is smaller than what you might be used to from a furnace, but the cumulative effect means that you’ll be able to enjoy a much more consistently comfortable indoor environment.

It is important to evaluate the climate in your area before you decide to purchase a heat pump, though. These systems are extremely effective at heating and cooling your home as long as temperatures stay above the mid-thirties.

Below that, you may need to install some type of supplemental heating in order to keep your home warm enough on those really cold days. So if you live in an area where temperatures routinely dip below freezing for large portions of the winter, a heat pump might not be the most sensible solution for you.

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Components of an Air Conditioner

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Ever wondered how that amazing machine that keeps you cool in your West Melbourne home actually works? How exactly does it use electricity to create cool air and dehumidify your home? It’s actually an ingenious bit of technology developed over a century ago using four major components and a thermostat.

How these parts are implemented may change depending on the type of air conditioner you have and how much space it’s tasked with cooling, but the following components are standard in all AC units:

  • Evaporator – There are two sides to an air conditioner – the warm side and the cool side. The Evaporator is on the cool side and is paired with a fan that blows air over the coils. The air then chills and blows into your home to keep you cool.
  • Condenser – The condenser is the device responsible with transferring heat within the air conditioner. An air conditioner doesn’t actually make anything cool – it just removes heat from one environment and places it into another. By removing heat from one set of coils and transferring it to another, it creates the cooling effect that the evaporator then uses to cool your home
  • Expansion Valve – The expansion valve is responsible for regulating how much refrigerant passes into the evaporator coils. This refrigerant immediately expands when it reaches the evaporator coil due to the pressure drop.
  • Compressor – Once the refrigerant has depressurized and turned back into a gas, it is passed to the compressor which is then tasked with converting it back into a liquid and passing it into the warm part of your air conditioner.

And of course, this entire mechanism is monitored and regulated by a thermostat which tells the air conditioner when to turn on and what level of cooling is needed by your home. The system can also be setup in one of a couple different ways. Self-contained units, like window units, house the entire mechanism in a single box, while a central air conditioner separates the two units – the hot side with the compressor and condenser are placed outside the house.

Because there are so many parts and they work in harmony to create the cool environment you want, your air conditioner needs to be carefully maintained. Regular maintenance is a must for every component.

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Alternatives to Air Conditioning in Your Home

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Let’s face it – we rely pretty heavily on air conditioning in West Melbourne to keep us comfortable.  So, what do you do when the thermostat dings 90+ and your air conditioner is either broken or you are in a place without AC? Luckily, there are alternatives. Here are some of the better options:

  • Move Air through the House – As simple as it sounds, air circulation can have a huge impact on the temperature inside, especially in the late afternoon. Mid-afternoon sun will hit your roof no matter how many trees you have planted. The result is a decent amount of heat pouring into your home. But, if you open the windows and let a cross breeze through, amplifying it with fans, especially ceiling fans, moving air will carry that heat out of the house later in the day when the temperature drops.
  • Block Direct Sunlight – Unless it’s 90+ degrees outside, most of the discomfort in heat comes from direct sunlight. Block that direct sunlight and you severely reduce how warm it might get in your home. Trees planted along western, eastern and southern walls do this very effectively, especially if they are deciduous and will allow in the warming sun in the winter.
  • The Power of Water – Feel warm? Get some cool water and place it on your forehead, arms or legs. A bowl of cool water in front of a fan can be soothing as well, assuming humidity isn’t a problem. If it is, consider getting a dehumidifier to run in lieu of an air conditioner for those days that aren’t too hot. They are less expensive and can reduce discomfort significantly.
  • Evaporative Coolers – Evaporative coolers are extremely popular in Europe and Japan where energy costs are relatively high. They use up to 80% less electricity than air conditioners, don’t require refrigerants linked to global warming, and they work extremely well in dry heat. There are evaporative coolers available that can cool your entire home, though the most common devices are those designed for a single room. They are sometimes called “swamp coolers” as well.

I’m sure we’d all rather have a comfortably air conditioned room to lounge in during the hottest months of summer, but in lieu of electric powered comfort, keep in mind the simple, effective ways people have been staying cool for centuries.

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The Preventative Maintenance That Will Save You the Most in Maitland

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Having a high performance, energy efficient HVAC system will save you a good deal of money in terms of the monthly heating and cooling bills for your Maitland house. But that efficiency will not last unless you also take the necessary steps to keep your equipment in good working order. While regular maintenance visits from a professional HVAC technician are an important part of this, there are also several things you can do on your own to keep your equipment running at peak efficiency.

  1. Keep it Clear – The first thing you should do is to make sure that there is plenty of space cleared around your outdoor unit. Whether it is the condenser and compressor for your air conditioning system or part of your heat pump, that outdoor equipment needs to have plenty of space to vent hot air. Also, the space will mean that debris is less likely to develop inside the unit.
  2. Clean the Condensing Coil – While your technician will do this when they make their annual visit, it is best to clean your coil more than just once a year. Just make sure that the power is turned off to your unit before you begin. This will help the unit cool air more efficiently and can prevent a whole host of other problems from developing.
  3. Check on the Blower – If your blower is not working right or the blade is clogged, your HVAC unit will not work properly. Make sure your blower fan is free of all debris and that is turns freely once you have cleaned it. If you are still having a problem with it, you may have to call a technician for repairs. Cleaning the blower out on a regular basis, however, should keep this from becoming a problem you need a professional for.
  4. Air Filters – You should also make sure you change your air filters regularly. This can help to keep your indoor air clean and healthy and it will also enable your HVAC system to run more efficiently.
  5. Clean it Out – Clean out any debris that you can reach from any part of your system. Just make sure any time you work inside your HVAC system that you have all of the power turned off. Anything from leaves to dust can get in there and cause a problem if it is allowed to build up over time. As long as you are on top of things and keep to a regular schedule of maintenance, none of this should take you very long.

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What Happens if You Put Your Air Filter in the Wrong Way? A Question from Windermere

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Air filters are important pieces in your Windermere home’s comfort system. They keep unwanted debris and sediment out of your indoor air and they help your system run smoothly for years to come. However, if you’re not careful, an air filter put in backwards can lead to quite a few problems with your heating and cooling system.

The Most Common Problems

The most common problem you will face with a backwards facing filter is simple inefficiency. If your furnace is forced to blow air through the non-porous end of a filter, it will take more energy to do so. The blower will be overworked and you will pay more money for your heating. The same is doubly true for an air conditioner which has multiple filters in place to keep outdoor contaminants out of your indoor air.

Beyond the cost of improper filtering, you will likely suffer from a decrease in indoor air quality. The filter is designed to remove a lot of unwanted debris, but only when installed in a certain direction. If you set your filter up backwards, the normally collective end of the device will not face the air supply. In effect, your filter will help keep debris in the air.

This results in a clogged filter and improperly cleaned air when it reaches your lungs. If you have a home indoor air quality system it will help to supplement this problem for a while, but the clog will eventually become too much for your system.

Avoiding the Problem

There are two ways to avoid improper installation. First, you can have a professional install the system for you. Whenever you need a new filter ask someone to come and take care of it. When they do, though, pay close attention to how they set the filter and any other steps they take. By carefully watching you can ideally learn what it takes to do this step yourself and hopefully keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

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Basic HVAC Terminology: A Guide From Valkaria

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Ever try to look up basic information about your Valkaria home’s heating and air conditioning systems? There are dozens of terms that might as well be Greek for all you know – a mishmash of words and phrases talking about energy efficiency and air flow ratios. To make your next upgrade a little easier and give you a baseline with which to work, here are a few of the most common HVAC terms you’ll hear in the industry:

  • AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – This is a simple measurement of how much fuel a furnace converts into actual heat in your home. So, if a furnace converts 92% of the fuel it consumes into heat, it has an AFUE rating of 92.
  • Watts – A single watt is a measurement of electricity. Commonly, your electricity use is assured in kilowatts or kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit – A BTU is a common measurement of how much energy is produced or consumed by an appliance. When referring to an air conditioner, one “ton” refers to 12,000 BTUs.
  • SEER/EER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio refers to how many BTUs can be produced with a single Watt of electricity per hour. So, an air conditioner with an SEER of 14 can produce 14 BTUs of cooling per watt consumed each hour.
  • HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor – Refers to the efficiency of the heating elements in your heat pump.
  • COP – Coefficient of Performance – A measurement of how effective your heat pump is at heating a space compared to standard electrical resistance heat. The lower the temperature gets outside, the lower the COP will be. Equipment is usually measured for COP at 47 and 17 degrees to give an idea of seasonal performance of a new heat pump.
  • Refrigerant – Refrigerant is any gas that is used to draw heat from the air in a particular environment through an air conditioner or heat pump. It has a much lower boiling point than water, allowing it to cool despite the temperature outside. Currently, most equipment uses R-22 refrigerant while the new standard will be R-410A (Puron), legally required in all cooling units by 2020.
  • CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute – Used to measure the volume of air passed through an air handler by an air conditioner or furnace.

There are a number of complicated details to keep track of when choosing a new air conditioner or furnace. To ensure you get the very best out of your system, read up on these details in advance – you’ll feel a heck of a lot smarter when you call.

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