Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from Your Tampa Heating and Cooling Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve! Have a great time welcoming the New Year tonight! We hope that you are able to achieve all of your resolutions for this upcoming year. Fun fact: the ancient Babylonians were the first to establish the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. That means that people have used this time of year to set goals for themselves for thousands of years!  If one of your resolutions is to be more environmentally friendly, remember that an upgrade to your HVAC system can make a big difference in your house’s energy efficiency!

Why AFUE Ratings Matter When Installing a New Furnace in Your Tampa Home

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

When you are in the market for a new furnace for your Tampa home, there are several reasons you should pay attention to the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. All newer model furnaces get an AFUE percentage, which measures how much fuel a particular model converts into heat. Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings are more efficient, but the size and type of furnace will also factor into how much you’ll save on energy costs.

Understanding the AFUE Ratio

The minimum AFUE rating for new furnaces is 78%. This means that seventy-eight percent of the fuel is turned into heat, and the remaining percentage is lost either through poor insulation, air leaks, or the ventilation system in the home. Because there’s no heat loss through a chimney flue, some all-electric furnaces can have an AFUE rating as high as 98%. However, if the cost of electricity used to meet your normal heating needs is higher than the efficiency savings, you may want to consider other options. Talk to a qualified HVAC contractor for advice about the most cost-efficient heater for your home.

Furnace Efficiency Features

Furnaces manufactured 15-20 years ago have significantly lower AFUE ratings (between 55%-70% for most older models) because they are typically single-stage, or single-speed systems. Single-stage furnaces are less efficient because they are designed to cycle on at full capacity and shut off when the desired temperature is met.  Newer, two-speed models have a second setting that runs consistently at a lower speed, which saves energy by burning less fuel. Multispeed furnaces that have variable-speed blowers are the most efficient because they operate at various levels and automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature.

If you look at the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces, the ratios should be above 80%. Keep in mind that this only determines the efficiency levels for the furnace itself. You’ll need to factor in whether or not your home has proper insulation and other upgrades, such as double-paned windows and doors.

Call Air National to speak with one of our qualified HVAC technicians about a furnace upgrade for your Tampa home.

High Efficiency Filters and Your Saint Leo Heat Pump

Monday, December 26th, 2011

The filter on your heat pump is an integral part of your Saint Leo home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

Merry Christmas Eve from Your Tampa Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Everyone at Air National Air Conditioning and Heating wishes you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you all have an amazing day tomorrow full of wonderful presents and great food. The holidays are a time be thankful for everything you have, we are grateful for all of our customers who make our business possible. Have a great weekend with your friends and family! Here is a recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cookies to make your Christmas a little sweeter:

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

“These cookies have a sweet peanut butter cup center.”

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

40 miniature chocolate covered peanut

butter cups, unwrapped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

For more details, go to allrecipes.com.

If you haven’t already had your heating system tune-up, we recommend you do so soon. A well maintained system will need fewer repairs over time and work much more efficiently. Not to mention the peace of mind that you will get from knowing that your equipment is functioning safely. Annual maintenance will help keep your house warm and safe this winter!

Troubleshooting Your Problematic Brandon Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

If your Brandon home’s heat pump isn’t working properly, there are a number of things that might be wrong. But, where do you start and how do you solve these problems quickly and inexpensively? Here are some tips for common heat pump problems.

Low Air Flow

Your heat pump is designed to provide steady air flow to the entire house. When it was originally installed, the technician sized it to do so. If it suddenly stops providing enough air flow to your entire house or if the air flow it provides isn’t as comfortable as you’re used to, something is probably wrong.

More specifically, there is likely an issue with the heat pump itself since the device will compensate for most external problems by running longer and harder. A quick inspection will often rule out serious problems, so you should have someone inspect your device as soon as you notice a problem.

Leaky Duct

If there is an external problem, such as leaky ductwork, it tends not to be as noticeable right away. Often, when ducts are leaking, air flow problems will occur only in certain rooms of your home. Even then, the heat pump might be able to maintain the right temperature in those rooms – you’ll just have a higher energy bill because of the energy loss in the ductwork.

The best way to determine what is happening and how best to tackle the problem is to have someone test your ductwork for leaks, a relatively quick process.

High Energy Bill

If your energy bill suddenly increases dramatically, it is usually due to energy loss somewhere in the transfer between the heat pump and the rooms of your home. Leaky ducts can be the culprit, but so too can the air handler or the heat pump itself. If you notice a sudden increase in your energy bill, look for other symptoms like uneven heating or cooling in certain parts of your home or noises coming from the ductwork or your air handler.

No matter what other symptoms accompany the increase, you probably need repairs. Your home may still be comfortable now, but the heat pump can only make up for the problem for so long and in the interim, it is being put under excessive stress that reduces its lifespan.

Happy Hanukkah from Your Tampa Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Everyone at Air National Air Conditioning and Heating wishes you a Happy Hanukkah! Have a great holiday with your friends and family. This time of year is all about being thankful for what you have, and we want to thank you all for making our business possible! Enjoy celebrating eight days of gift giving! Here is a great recipe for Vegetable and Feta Latkes that will make your Hanukkah even better:

Vegetable and Feta Latkes

“Try this colorful take on traditional potato pancakes. Stir shredded zucchini, potatoes and carrots into a batter of eggs, matzo meal, parsley and feta cheese. Fry until golden brown. You’ll love the creamy bite of feta with the tender veggie crunch.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup matzo meal

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

1.            Place the zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander, place paper towels or a cheesecloth over the top and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and let them drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze vegetable again in paper towels.

2.            In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vegetables, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in matzo meal or flour, parsley and feta.

3.            Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Place vegetable mixture, formed into pancake sized cakes in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. (Cook two to three minutes per side). Add more oil as needed to keep cakes frying up well. Drain fried latkes on paper towels.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Your Tampa Heat Pump’s Settings and Your Comfort Level

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Your Tampa home’s heat pump has a number of settings that can affect your overall comfort level. One of those settings is the fan – which can be set to run automatically when heating is needed or left on continuously so that the device never turns off. Which is better for your home, though? Let’s take a look.

Comfort vs. Economy

The reason there are two settings on your heat pump is that one is more economical. The auto setting allows the device to minimize how often it is on. So, it only turns on when the house needs warm air to maintain the thermostat setting.

On the other hand, the always on setting is designed to provide better comfort. When you leave your heat pump’s fan on continuously, it provides steady heat over time. This means that the temperature remains consistent and mixes the air to ensure there are no uncomfortable pockets of poorly conditioned air in your home somewhere.

Which Is Better?

In terms of comfort level, it depends on your needs. If you’re not too picky about the exact temperature of your home, the auto setting is best because you will save money and it tends to be fairly accurate. However, if you want to ensure you and your family are perfectly comfortable, regardless of the weather outside, the always on setting is the best way to achieve this level of comfort.

Of course, if you’re concerned about the added cost of leaving the heat pump fan on all the time, you can adjust the thermostat to even out the cost. By raising the thermostat 2 degrees in the summer and lowering it 2 degrees in the winter, the added cost of running it constantly should be offset. If it isn’t, you should have your device inspected to ensure both of the settings are properly calibrated.

Tampa HVAC Contractor Tip: What Does a Furnace Fan Limit Switch Do?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

When researching your Tampa furnace and potential problems it might have, you’ve probably run across a few references to the fan limit switch. And while you know that it can break in a number of ways, do you know what the switch does and what you should look for when checking your furnace its air handler for problems?

What the Limit Switch Does

To put it very simply, the furnace fan limit switch is a control that tells your furnace’s fan when to turn on and off. So, when the furnace isn’t on, it tells the blower not to operate (and send cold air into your home) and when the furnace is on, it tells the blower to turn on and start circulating the warm air.

While the primary function of the limit switch is to turn the blower fan on and off, it also has a safety role. When the temperature in the air supply plenum gets too hot, the limit switch turns off the furnace boiler to keep there from being any damage from overheating. This is handy if there is a blockage in the air vents or the controls are messed up due to water damage or improper adjustments to the settings.

Looking for Problems

Most of the time, when there is an issue with your furnace turning off or on frequently, the limit switch is one of the first things you will check. Because the switch is electronic and is attached to a thermostat which measures temperature in the air supply plenum, a small problem can result in it not working properly. So, you can easily check it by temporarily bypassing the switch and seeing if your device turns on or off properly.

In many cases, if the limit switch is the problem, you will still need to call a professional for replacement, but you can avoid a lot of headaches related to tracking down the source of the problem. If you suspect a limit switch problem, make sure to call someone immediately, because it does provide an important safety function and because without it your furnace won’t cycle on and off properly.

What to Do When Your New Tampa Heat Pump Isn’t Getting the Job Done

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The heat pump in your New Tampa home is designed to provide steady, reliable heat in your home throughout the year. So, what do you do when your heat pump suddenly stops producing enough heat? The first step is to figure out why exactly your heat pump has stopped working properly. From there, you can take action to get it back on track.

Reasons Your Heat Pump Isn’t Producing Heat

There are a number of reasons a heat pump might stop producing enough heat. Here are some of the most common ones you’ll encounter:

  • Too Cold Outside – A heat pump can only handle temperatures so low. Most heat pumps are rated for outside temperatures as low as 40 degrees F (though they work best at 50 degrees F and up). If the outside temperature gets below the 37 degree F mark, it’s likely the system won’t be able to produce enough heat. Remember, however, that you should have an emergency heat source. If it isn’t on but the outside temperature is below 37 degrees F, you may have a problem with the outdoor thermostat or emergency switch.
  • Fans – The fans on your heat pump may not be working properly. Simply check this by increasing the thermostat setting on your heat pump. If the fan never comes on, there could be an electrical or mechanical problem in your fan.
  • Thermostat Readings – A simple problem that can stall your heat pump is thermostat failure or calibration problems. Check the thermostat to see if it is working properly and if not, call a professional.
  • Refrigerant – If the refrigerant gets low in your heat pump, you may need to have it recharged. This is a quick and relatively inexpensive process so call for a heating contractor as soon as you notice the problem.

If your heat pump isn’t working properly, don’t wait for it to break completely or for the temperature outside to become unbearable. Call for help immediately and get your heat pump fixed before it’s too late. Even a seemingly simple problem can quickly turn into a major issue if it isn’t dealt with immediately.

A Guide from Tampa: What to Expect in a Low, Medium or High Efficiency Furnace

Monday, December 12th, 2011

When buying a new furnace in Tampa, you have many options. You can purchase a low end model to save money up front and you’ll still get exceptional fuel efficiency, but as you go up the scale, more innovative, money saving features become available. Here is a brief look at what you can expect based on which type of furnace you purchase.

Low Efficiency Furnace

This is a bit of a misnomer as even entry level furnaces have efficiency ratings of at least 80%. For comparison, if you’re still using an old gravity furnace, your efficiency rating could be lower than 50%. Modern furnaces are built to conserve, and while you won’t receive all of the bells and whistles that tend to accompany high efficiency models, you will get a durable, affordable furnace that will last for 10-20 years.

Medium Efficiency Furnaces

Furnaces in the mid-efficiency range have AFUE ratings of between 85% and 92% and are therefore significantly better than those in the entry level range. They also have some of the higher end features available in high efficiency models like programmability and the option for zone control. Because they are still mid-range, they are affordable without skimping too much on features too – a must for any homeowner wanting to save money on both ends.

High Efficiency Furnaces

The highest efficiency furnaces on the market are very different from those you would have purchased even just 10 years ago. Top end furnaces can carry AFUE ratings of up to 95% with a boat load of added features to conserve energy. These features include two stage gas valves so you can maintain a low BTU heating system for most of the year but crank up the heat when the temperature outside drops too low. They are also programmable, which allows you to easily change the temperature settings, fan speed and more from anywhere in the house.

And while they cost more to install, high efficiency furnaces use less energy over their lifespan, last longer and are more environmentally friendly than any other furnaces on the market today.