Posts Tagged ‘Weeki Wachee’

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.

Plants & Indoor Air Quality: Some Pointers from Locoochee

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

In our Locoochee elementary school, we were taught that plants are the ‘lungs of the Earth.’ They remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, which is great because it is the exact opposite of our respiratory process. They also clean the air in the process, like natural air pollution scrubbers, improving the quality of the air around them.

Given this, it’s not surprising that people have sought to harness the respiratory power of plants to improve air quality in their homes. One study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the 1980s even identified the best plants for improving indoor air quality.

This seems like great news for people who suffer from asthma or allergies, or who just want a natural way to purify the air in their homes. However, plants are not without their drawbacks. It is not a simple as to just bring a plant into the home. A plant is really an entire ecosystem, with many other organisms latched on for dear life. There are bacteria in the soil, for one, and there may be bugs or fungi in the soil or on the plant that you can’t even see.

Most of these are harmless, but not always. The fungus can be a problem, for example, if the spores get into the air. This can make allergies and asthma worse, not better.

That doesn’t mean you have to toss out that nice spider plant or Boston fern in the garbage, however. After all, it is probably doing a great job of filtering out some inorganic pollutants, it’s increasing the oxygen concentration of the room and it looks nice. Instead of getting rid of it, just give it a partner.

Adding an air cleaner like a fan with a filter can help purge the organic gunk that may be coming from the plant, while the plant is taking care of the other stuff. The result is cleaner, better air, which can be a relief to asthma and allergy sufferers.

How to Reduce Indoor Allergens: A Tip from Oldsmar

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Indoor allergens range from the obnoxious like pet dander, pollen and dust to the downright dangerous like mold, smoke and dust mites. Typically, you won’t even realize you have allergens in your Oldsmar home until one or more members of your family develop symptoms of discomfort or illness with no clear reason. Long term respiratory or allergic issues when inside the house are usually a clear sign of an indoor allergen problem – usually something you can fix.

Identify the Allergen

Step one is to identify the source of the discomfort. Most allergens are related to something you have in or around your home. For example, if you have a cat or dog, you very likely have high levels of pet dander. A flower garden outside or lots of plants inside can result in high pollen levels. Excess moisture in your basement or attic can result in dust mite and mold growth.

If you are unsure of what allergens are causing your discomfort, there are companies that can test the air in your home for specific allergens. These tests look for all allergens as well as potentially dangerous contaminants like radon and MVOC toxins from mold and mildew. Whether you need such testing depends on the severity of your health concerns and the initial inspection performed by your contractor.

Getting Rid of Allergens

Once you know for sure what your problem is, it’s time to cut back on the allergens. Mechanical fixes are available in the form of air filters and advanced ventilation systems. You can supplement those solutions by implementing a series of simple upgrades to your insulation to keep out the pollutants that are outside.

The key is to make sure the air flows freely through your home and filters remove and ventilate the air properly to keep it from growing too stale and making you sick. You can also cut back on the use of certain chemicals and materials that cause allergens to build up. For example, aerosols, paints and glues produce a number of irritating gases that tend to stick around inside.

Additionally, make sure your pets are cleaned often and that your upholstery and carpet is vacuumed daily by a HEPA quality vacuum cleaner. This will severely reduce the presence of dust, dust mites and dander.

By focusing heavily on the reduction of pollutants and allergens like dander, pollen and dust, most of your indoor air quality problems will be solved. It just takes awareness and action.

When Should You Check Your AC Filters: Some Recommendations From Palmetto

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

The filters on your air conditioning unit are vital for keeping out the dust and debris that make things like illness, allergies and air quality worse in your Palmetto home. And it’s important that you take personal responsibility for checking those filters. Sure, you have a professional visit your home once a year to check the air conditioning, but you should also check the system yourself on a semi-regular basis for possible filter degradation.

Monthly Checks

So, how often should you check? Think of it this way. There is no such thing as checking too much, but you can easily not check often enough. So, we recommend checking your filter at least once every 4 weeks. It may not always need to be changed during that four week checkup (sometimes it can last 6 weeks or longer), but it’s good to take a peek.

Why is this so important? Because filters that haven’t been checked and changed as needed have a habit of building up excess sediment and debris. Not a problem when it comes to actually working, but a huge problem when it comes to your energy bill. The harder a system has to work to keep you house cool, the more energy it draws and the more you pay to have cool air in your home. And it will break down much faster as a result of overwork and dirty filters.

Changing an AC Filter

If your filter is ready for a swap, here are some quick tips to get the job done:

  • Find Your Filters: If you don’t know where your filters are, ask your contractor on the next visit or look near the return grills by the thermostat.
  • Remove the Filters: Open the latches and pull the old filter out to check it. You should be able to see clearly through a permanent filter and a disposable one should still be white. If this isn’t the case, it’s time for a cleaning/replacement.
  • Clean the Area: Clear the grill and area of any debris and sediment that might make the filter worse after replacement.

Proper filter maintenance only takes five minutes and it will save you money every month you run your AC – not a bad deal for a few minutes’ work.

A Different Way to Zone Your Heating

Monday, July 25th, 2011

One of the most frustrating things about traditional heating is that you must pay for the entire home to be heated. You flip on the thermostat and you get the same temperature for every room. Vent covers can reduce how much heat gets to each room, but if you want one room to be cooler than another, how do you do it without installing an expensive zone control system?

Vent Levers for Adjustable Air Flow

The easiest way to control the flow of air in your heating system is to use a vent lever adjustable air flow system that allows you to actually control where the air goes. These systems are installed directly on your furnace’s air handler. Each vent lever can be attached to a specific thermostat in your house or the vent levers can be opened and closed manually from the basement. When one of the thermostats is turned off, a vent lever will close off air flow to that particular room and stop any heat from being distributed there.

The system itself is not as easy to use as a zone control system but because the technology is simple and it takes only a few seconds to the turn the vent levers, it’s a viable and effective method to control your heating if you cannot afford zone control. If you’re not sure whether this is a good solution for your particular furnace, an HVAC contractor can help.

How to Get Vent Levers Installed in Your Home

If this sounds like a good solution for you, take some time and contact your local HVAC service provider to learn more about what it takes to have vent levers installed. For some systems it is relatively easy to add them to an existing air handler. In older systems or in the case of a boiler, you may need to install more specific types of handlers to control the flow of heating to each room in your home. A professional can give you a better idea of what your home needs and how it can best be setup.

Label Your Panel Box for an Emergency

Monday, July 11th, 2011

During an emergency, moving fast is a priority. You need to get your family out of the house fast, but there are certain things you should have done well before the emergency that can help to keep you and your family safe. Specifically, if there is an earthquake, flood, or other major natural disaster that can disrupt your appliances or cause a sudden power surge, you want to turn off your electricity immediately, before anything can go wrong. Emergency workers might also need to access your panel box if you’re not home or if the area is too unsafe to enter.

Specific Instances this Might Matter

Think of what can happen if there is a flood in your basement and you need to go down to save your prized possessions or to stop the flow of water. Walking into a flooded basement with live electricity is incredibly dangerous. So, it’s important to know where your panel box is and what each of the breakers in it is for. This gives you the control necessary to stop the flow of electricity and stay safe, even when knee deep in standing water.

This also makes it possible for someone else to flip those breakers if you’re not home or there is a more urgent disaster like a fire or an earthquake. In the case of an earthquake, you never know when electrical supplies might be tripped or when your appliances will become disconnected from exhaust hoods or vents. Your gas is usually tripped off immediately by an earthquake shutoff valve, but your electricity needs to be manually stopped.

The Risk of Live Electricity

The key to effectively keeping your home operational through an emergency is to take every possible precaution until you can be sure that the space is safe. That means turning off key breakers, checking your home for disconnected appliances or potentially dangerous situations, and if necessary calling in an electrician to take care of any specific problems. In the case of most emergencies, if you’re not totally sure that something is safe, take precautions first by calling a professional and then worry about saving possessions and cleaning up.

Do I Need Surge Protection for My HVAC?

Monday, June 27th, 2011

You probably know that to keep your HVAC system in good working order you need to keep up with regular maintenance. This includes things like changing air filters, cleaning out air ducts and clearing debris from both inside and outside the system. Surge protection for your system may not be something you think of immediately, but like those maintenance tasks, it’s an important part of keeping your equipment functioning properly over time.

How Surge Protection Works

Surge protection essentially shuts off your system in the event that power levels in the system rise suddenly and unacceptably. When a sudden increase in electricity occurs, any electronic device is at risk. But, unlike your stereo, your HVAC system costs thousands of dollars – no one wants to lose something so valuable to a surge that could have been prevented. That’s why a surge protector is so vital for your system.

The surge protector monitors the levels of electricity coming into your HVAC system. In the event that a surge occurs for any reason (faulty wiring, a lightning strike, etc.), the surge protector will immediately cut off power to the HVAC unit and shut all of the equipment down.

A Sizeable Investment

Your HVAC system was not an impulse buy. This is a collection of equipment that you probably spent a good deal of money on and that you rely on to keep your family comfortable throughout the year. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see why it’s worth doing anything you can to protect your investment. Installing a surge protector is a relatively minor expense compared to the money and inconvenience it could save you by preventing serious damage to your HVAC equipment.

Proper Restart

Once a surge protector shuts off your HVAC system, you’ll need to restart it properly. The best thing to do is talk to the contractor who installs your system. They can walk you through the restart process step by step to ensure you know exactly what to do. After going through all that trouble installing a surge protector, the last thing you want is to make a mistake when turning it back on.

If you don’t already have a surge protector in place, call an HVAC professional today and learn what your system needs to be fully protected. It’s a small expense and a quick installation, so there’s no reason to put it off any longer.

Allergies: Different Products that Can Help with Different Problems

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

One of the biggest problems related to indoor air quality is allergies. When not treated properly, excess dust, humidity, bacteria, mold, and other contaminants can cause a number of allergy problems, especially if anyone in your home has asthma and is particular sensitive to a contaminant.

Luckily, there are quite a few products on the market designed to reduce the effect of indoor allergens and help you feel comfortable all year long.

Filters

HEPA air filters are designed to capture incredibly small bits of debris in your home. They remove things like dust, mold, debris, pollen, and pet dander before they can trigger an allergic reaction. The best filters are all HEPA certified and are available either for a single room or for your entire home. The size of your home and the amount of contaminants you have will ultimately determine which filter is best for you.

Purifiers

For those with allergens beyond dust and pollen, purifiers are a good next step. Air purification is done electronically, utilizing ionization technology to remove things like gas and smoke as well as bacteria and viruses that get into your indoor air. Anyone suffering from even a mild bout of seasonal allergies can be made very uncomfortable by these types of contaminants. Advanced purification systems also come with UV germicidal lights to kill bacteria and viruses.

Ventilation

While capturing the bad stuff in your air is important, so too is getting new air into your home. Allergies are triggered as much by stale air as by the allergens in it. So, a good ventilation system is important. Simple fan units work very well for many families, but if you want to avoid the loss of heated and cooled air during the most extreme weather in your area, an energy recovery ventilator is a good alternative to straight fan ventilation.

Humidity

Finally, humidity is a big issue for many families. Dryness in the winter can make colds and flus worse and excessive humidity in the summer is a haven for things like mold. A good humidifier removes humidity when it gets too high and adds moisture to the air during the winter when it gets too dry.

Always do your research before choosing an air quality system for your home. It’s important to choose components that will help you overcome whatever allergies you face, throughout the year.

The Advantages of an Air Conditioning System

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Just about everyone knows that air conditioning systems keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. While this may be enough of a benefit for you, there are also some other benefits to having a central air conditioning system installed in your house as well.

For instance, if you have someone in your household who is more susceptible to extreme temperatures than most people, an air conditioning system can actually help improve their overall health. Babies certainly fall into this category, as they have more difficulty than older children or adults do controlling their body temperature.

Also, many elderly people or people suffering from certain medical conditions, particularly heart conditions, are especially sensitive to the heat. If they are unable to stay cool, it can be very dangerous and damaging to their health, and an air conditioning system helps to guarantee that they will be able to stay cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

Aside from direct health concerns, air conditioning systems can also help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. They do this by controlling the level of humidity inside your home. If the air in your house is too moist or too dry, it can exacerbate cold and allergy symptoms, as well as dry out skin and make the indoor environment generally uncomfortable.

Proper humidity control is also important because it helps to ensure that any air filtration or purification system you have in place is able to operate at peak efficiency. Many of these units have a hard time extracting particulate contaminants from the indoor air that circulates through them if that air is too humid or too dry. With a state of the art air conditioning system in place, however, you will not have to worry about whether or not the humidity level in your home is out of balance.

It is also worth noting that a central air conditioning system can be preferable to a window mounted unit because it provides for a more even distribution of cool air throughout the house. Also, when you have a central air conditioning system, the condenser which is the source of most of the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make will be located outside and out of earshot. With window mounted units, on the other hand, there is really no way to block out or diminish the noise.

The Preventative Maintenance That Will Save You the Most

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Having a high performance, energy efficient HVAC system will save you a good deal of money in terms of your monthly heating and cooling bills. 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.