Air Conditioner Systems Are Changing

Then and Now Air Conditioner System Changes - thermostats pictures

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To…

That’s a good thing for your Air Conditioner! If you look at an HVAC system from twenty years ago and compare it with one from today, it might not look that different on the outside, but inside things have changed a lot!

As technology has advanced in engineering and federal requirements for HVAC systems have become more stringent, heating and air conditioning systems have advanced as well. The basic processes of air conditioning – invented by Willis Haviland Carrier – are still the same, but there have been several significant changes especially in the past 20 years.

Smaller Components

You’ve probably noticed how much smaller electronic components have become. This move to smaller and smaller components has affected air conditioning design and engineering. Components have become smaller, and materials thinner. It’s true that some parts are not as durable and may be more expensive to replace than on older systems, but the change also allows new systems to be much more efficient and less expensive to run overall.

More Complicated Components

Another big change has been the dramatic increase in features and functionality. Where there used to be a few vacuum tubes and mercury switches, HVAC systems now have circuit boards and microchips. Years ago the best recommendation was to dial your thermostat to one temperature and then to leave it alone. Newer heating and air conditioning systems take advantage of a greater variety of settings and controls. You can set up your system based on your preferences. There are more ways than ever to help you stay cool, comfortable, and spend less on energy bills.

Smarter Technology

With the integration of computer technology into modern HVAC systems, there is a tremendous amount control and information at your fingertips. Your thermostat can be programmed to adjust the air temperature based on your schedule. You can also schedule your trips so you aren’t wasting electricity when you are away. Reports give you detailed information about how much electricity your system is using. Plus, you can even control your system through your computer as well as access controls through an app on your phone.

We Keep Up with Air Conditioner Technology so You Stay Cool!

As technology advances, we think it’s important to stay on top of emerging technology. At Carolina Air Inc., we prioritize keeping our technicians up to speed with the latest advances. We always want to be able to offer new and better options to our customers. We know that to stay cool, we have to keep up!

What to Know Before You Choose a New HVAC System

HVAC units - how to choose your next hvac systemLots of things have changed…

If you’re shopping for a new HVAC system, you may have noticed significant changes in newer air conditioners since your last model was installed. Modern systems are much more efficient than those manufactured even 10 years ago, which is good news. However, to get the most out of a new efficient system, there are some things you should know.

Higher efficiency means lower energy bills

Don’t look for the cheapest deal. Low cost doesn’t equate to the best deal. A higher efficiency system may cost more, but if it saves you a few hundred dollars on your energy bills a year – well, just do the math. Over the estimated 12-15-year life of the system, the savings add up. Pay attention to efficiency ratings. The tag that proclaims the air conditioner’s SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, is there to enlighten you, so pay attention. The higher the SEER rating, the more  efficient the appliance. Choose the equipment with the highest SEER you can afford.

Learn about our Carrier Residential Systems

The right-size HVAC system is the the best choice

Make sure you get the right size equipment. Installing the wrong size air conditioner will adversely impact your comfort as well as the efficient operation of the equipment. A prospective contractor should visit your home before giving you an estimate for equipment and installation costs. If they offer you an estimate site unseen – run!

Save with rebates and Service Contracts

Don’t ignore rebates. Some states and manufacturers offer rebates, especially on higher efficiency equipment. Consider maintenance contracts. No doubt about it, you’ll need maintenance on your HVAC system eventually. A qualified technician should inspect your air conditioner every year to ensure that it’s running correctly, then replace parts that may be worn or likely to fail. A maintenance contract is worth the money, as it ensures your air conditioner gets the attention it needs and stays running well for years.

Learn about Service Agreements:

Classic Service Agreement

Deluxe Service Agreement

 Premium Service Agreement

 

Higher SEER Means Increased Savings and Comfort

HVAC SEER efficiency graphicWhat is SEER?

If  you have done any research on HVAC systems, you’ve probably heard about SEER numbers. SEER is an rating system that’s designed to give you a quick and easy way to compare the energy efficiency of systems. It’s also the efficiency rating that has federal requirements. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The number is generated from a formula that compares how much cool air is produced and how much energy is used. The higher the number, the more efficient the system is, and the less electricity it uses to run.

What about other efficiency ratings?

SEER is just one of several efficiency ratings that can be used to compare air conditioning  systems, but it’s the one that has minimum requirements by federal law. It’s also the simplest to understand and use for comparison.  At Carolina Air, we can provide you with the SEER number as well as the EER number and the HSPF number for the systems we offer.

What are the minimum requirements?

The first SEER requirements were set by the government in 1992. At that time, a SEER rating of 10 was the minimum. Since then, the minimum requirements have been increasing over time. Currently, for those living in Beaufort, South Carolina and the surrounding Lowcounty, the minimum SEER rating for a new system is 14.

What is the maximum efficiency?

The highest efficiencies are achieved by ground source, or geothermal systems. These can be up to 75 SEER! Ductless systems are also very efficient, with ratings over 30. However, most homes in our area use a central system with air ducts, and these can achieve a maximum rating in the low 20s. At Carolina Air, Inc., we install air conditioners and heat pumps that achieve ratings from the minimum of 14 to over 20 SEER.

What’s the SEER of my existing system?

The rating of your existing system depends upon when it was first installed, and how well it has been maintained. Units installed after 1992 were required to have a SEER rating of 10. For systems installed after 2006, the minimum was 13. After 2015, the minimum for the Southeast is 14. However, the efficiency of any system tends to degrade over time. A well maintained system can run almost as efficiently as when it is first installed. If your system is older than 5-10 years, it’s rating is likely lower now than when it was new. For systems that have not had regular service, the SEER can be significantly lower.

How much can I save with a higher rating?

The total amount of savings depends upon multiple factors, but it can be very significant. The cost of electricity, the size of the system – as well as the SEER rating – contribute to how much energy you use, and how much you can save. To give you an idea, if you replace an older system (with a rating of 9) with a new system (with a rating of 14), you can save around 36% in energy used for heating and cooling. If you replaced that old system with an even more efficient new system (with a rating of 20+), you can save around 50% or more.

What other benefits are there for a high efficiency system?

Higher SEER will not only save you in energy costs, but it will likely also provide several other benefits. Many higher efficiency systems use multi-speed speed compressors and blowers. These can help reduce humidity in your home as well as keep the temperature more consistent throughout your house – and both will improve your overall comfort! In addition, higher efficiency means the system is using less energy and emitting less harmful greenhouse gases.

Watch this video to learn more about SEER

Contact Carolina Air, Inc. to find out if a higher efficiency system will help you reduce your energy bill and increase your comfort. 

Learn about our residential Carrier products.

HVAC FAQs Answered!

We get lots of questions about heating and cooling! Here are answers to some of the most common HVAC questions we get asked.

What is the best filtration system for my HVAC system?

Overall, the best bet for price and performance is a media air cleaner. This is a 4-5” replaceable filter that goes in a cabinet in your furnace’s return air duct. For most homes, these filters last 1 year. They’re very effective and impose much less air restriction on the HVAC system than the 1” pleated filter you get at the hardware store.

Should I run my blower all the time?

Maybe. It’s helpful to have the blower running if you want to balance out the temperature between rooms and floors. Also, the constant circulation means air is always being sucked into the return to be filtered, reducing dust a bit. In the summer, when the cooling is cycling, the constant airflow can cause higher levels of humidity as it evaporates the water left on the cooling coil when the air conditioner shuts off. Try it both ways and see what works the best for you!

Should I set my temperature back when I’m gone?

In most cases, yes. Studies have shown that a reasonable setback over an 8 hour period leads to energy savings. But don’t get carried away; 5-7° is probably the most you’d want to adjust your HVAC system.

Are WiFi thermostats really better?

There are a couple of great advantages with a WiFi thermostat: you can change the temperature from your phone or tablet while you’re away. If you’ll be coming home early or staying out late and want to override your program accordingly, you can do so. You can also monitor your house while you’re away. Many of them can also email or text you if the house gets too warm, too cold, too humid, or if the power goes out.

How Big Should My AC Be?

What size should your central air conditioner be?

The answer is simple in theory – get one large enough to do the job! But in practice, determining the right size unit involves using a complex formula that takes into account many elements. Carolina Air is trained to analyze your cooling and heating needs by taking into consideration the climate zone, size of the house, directional orientation, R-Value of insulation, tightness of envelope and U-value of the windows–just to name a few. With that information, precise recommendations for the size and type of unit can be made.

What can happen if the unit is too large?

Too often an inexperienced or poorly trained contractor may suggest a much larger unit than needed. The results of this over capacity can be serious, such as: The unit cycles too often so proper dehumidification is rarely achieved. With heavy moisture still in the air, the interior may be cool, but it remains damp and feels like a cave! To be comfortable, reducing the humidity is just as important as reducing the temperature. This frequency cycling also means a unit is not likely to reach its maximum efficiency rating, so the operating cost will be higher than it should be. It is like an automobile that gets better mileage when driven on an Interstate highway versus the stop and go of city driving. Ask Carolina Air for a sizing and energy analysis. You might be surprised at how much more comfort you can get for less money!

Change Your Air Filter Regularly

Don’t Forget About Your Air Filter!

While dusting, vacuuming and decluttering are at the top of the list for regular home maintenance, don’t forget your air conditioning system. Changing your air filter on a regular basis will help keep your cooling and heating systems running smoothly and efficiently.

How Often Should You Replace your Air Filter?

It’s commonly recommended to change your air filter a minimum of every three months. But, under certain circumstances, you should change your filter monthly, such as:

  • You have pets.
  • Someone smokes inside the home.
  • You live near a construction site.
  • Your HVAC system runs for six months or more out of the year.
  • Someone in your home suffers from allergies.
  • The area you live is windy.
  • You have a large outside garden.
  • You have a fireplace that you use even occasionally.

We also recommend that you change your filter immediately if it is damaged, damp or has signs of mold growing on it.

Types of Air Conditioning Filters

Most filters are disposable and come with cells or screens that trap as much dirt, dust and debris as possible. There are different types as well as sizes of air filters. It is important to check and make sure you are using the correct filter for your home. If you’re not sure–just ask us!

How to Change Your Air Filter

You would be surprised at the number of filters we see installed incorrectly! Make sure to turn off your HVAC system before taking the old filter out. When you remove your new filter from the packaging, check for any damage prior to installing. Then, the most important thing, is to make sure the ARROW IS POINTING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. It should point toward the furnace or air handler, NOT toward the interior of the room. Then turn your system back on and enjoy marking off one thing on your cleaning list!

Save with a Service Agreement

The Easiest Way to Save Money on Air Conditioning Costs…

Servicing your heating and cooling system is just as important as servicing your car. Regular maintenance will help your system run less frequently, which helps prevent costly breakdowns. Plus it will catch minor problems before they become major headaches.

Dirty equipment quickly loses capacity and costs you more to operate.

As little as 1/16 of an inch of dirt on your outdoor coil can cut your efficiency in half. A professional cleaning will restore lost efficiency so your comfort level is higher, while your utility costs are lower. A system that is regularly cleaned and tuned will significantly reduce your monthly utility bill and will help prevent costly breakdowns.

An energy saving Service Agreement from Carolina Air, Inc.  assures your central air system will run smoothly and save on energy bills.

By servicing your equipment, we will ensure that both your heating and cooling systems are safe to operate and at their peak efficiency 365 days a year. It’s a fact…the easiest way to save money on air conditioning costs is with an energy-saving Maintenance agreement with Carolina Air, Inc.  It will save you both time and money!

Learn more about our three Maintenance Plan options:

Classic HVAC Service Agreement

Deluxe HVAC Service Agreement

Premium HVAC Service Agreement