You know that an air conditioner brings joy to your life during the hot summer months, but are you ever curious about how it works? An air conditioner essentially works by transferring heat and humidity found inside your home to the outside. In order to understand why an air conditioner would fail (covered in next month’s blog), you must first understand how it functions.
To break it down, there are 7 essential parts of an air conditioner.
The evaporator, comprised of cooling coils, removes heat from the air using a refrigerant. A refrigerant is a substance that changes states from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid as it absorbs heat. As a blower ‘blows’ air over the coils, this substance cools the air. At the exterior of the house, a condenser, made up of hot coils accumulates all of the hot air and releases it back into the outside world.
In order for the evaporator and condenser to work together in unison, a compressor, with the aid of a fan, exists to pump refrigerant between the two, chilling the air, dispersing and dissipating it as it travels. Within the air conditioning unit, there is also a filter whose job it is to remove particles, like dust and debris, from the air in your home. Lastly, a thermostat exists to regulate the level of cool air being distributed.
These 7 parts are essential for the lower temperature bliss you crave during the humid summer months. If you are in need of an air conditioner, contact us! Our knowledgeable technicians would be happy to help you find the right unit to fit your home!
In-floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating, is a method of heating your home that provides heat through the floors, wall panels, and ceilings of your home. Not only is radiant floor heating more energy-efficient than many other forms of indoor climate control, but it can also be an excellent alternative to other types of forced air heating for those with allergies. If you have radiant floor heating in your home, do you know how to maintain the system and preserve its longevity? If you’re considering a home with radiant floor heating, here are some tips for maintaining your system. When radiant floor systems are well-maintained, they rarely experience breakdowns, and are a fairly hassle-free heating system.
Radiant floor heating relies on your pump being in good condition, and problems with pumps should be fairly infrequent if maintained properly. However, one sign that the pump may need an HVAC technician’s inspection is if it begins to make noise, as pumps generally operate silently. Keep in mind that equipment more than a few years old may operate at a louder noise level than new pumps. Get acquainted with what your pump sounds like when it’s healthy, so that you can quickly detect changes.
Afterglow offers a yearly maintenance package to keep pumps functioning in peak condition, and if you stay on top of maintenance, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with your radiant floor pump. However, if you do encounter a problem, our technicians at Afterglow are experienced, and can provide service in any emergency.
Radiant floor heating is meant to be a closed system, meaning that leaks should be rare. The best way to prevent leaks is to have an HVAC technician inspect your radiant floor system and make sure it’s functioning at optimal pressure. Low pressure can indicate a leak somewhere in the pipe system, which may not be disastrous at first, but will mean that the system isn’t functioning as efficiently as possible over time. Radiant floor heating can operate 25-40% more efficiently than other heating systems, but these efficiencies won’t be realized if a leak exists somewhere in the system.
We’re always here for you at Afterglow, whether you need routine maintenance or whether you’re facing an HVAC emergency! We offer a four-hour emergency response time, and our certified HVAC technicians are always happy to provide service for all your heating and cooling needs.
Fall is finally here! As our nights start to cool down and your furnace begins to kick in, we’ve put together a list of our top five tips that can help you and your family stay warm and save money on your heating bill.
Set your ceiling fan clockwise.
If you have a ceiling fan, in the cooler months it should be set on a low setting running in a clockwise direction. Since warm air rises, this gentle draft will push the warm air resting near the ceiling back down towards the floor. This can help the room feel warmer, allowing you to lower your thermostat temperature and help keep your heating bill a bit lower.
Let the sun heat your home.
On a sunny day, if your home has large windows that directly face the sun, keep the curtains open to let the sun heat your home! Just be sure to close the curtains at night so that warm air doesn’t escape.
Replace thin curtains.
Speaking of curtains, something that many of us don’t consider is that thinner curtains can let the heat escape much easier out of your windows. By replacing them with thicker, heavier curtains in the winter months and keeping curtains and blinds closed atnight, it can prevent the amount of heat lost through windows.
Seal windows and cracks.
When the heat “escapes”, it can go out small cracks or gaps that you might not even realize are there! By thoroughly checking all windows and doors and adding caulking and/or weatherstripping, it can help conserve the warm air inside.
Keep your ducts clean.
Schedule ductwork maintenance before turning on your furnace to ensure proper circulation and efficient air flow. If the ducts are clogged with debris and dust, your unit will work harder to try and heat your home which can potentially result in a higher energy bill.
Additionally, dirt and dust restrict the airflow and circulation – letting allergens and dust accumulate, pushing them back into your home.
What size HVAC system do I need for my home?
That varies with the size of your home and living situation. There is no rule of thumb for an HVAC system so it is best to have a trained professional assess your home to provide an accurate review and recommendation.
How can I increase the efficiency and lifetime of my HVAC system?
Each system is different, but the best way to get the most out of your HVAC unit is to change your air filters. Regularly changing your air filters allows your unit to work more efficiently to provide you with clean, filtered air.
How often should I replace my air filter?
Changing the air filter on your HVAC unit differs case by case. You should check the air filter monthly to ensure there is no substantial build-up. Changing the air filter can help improve the efficiency of your HVAC system between 5% and 15% while also ensuring your unit is operating at peak performance.
Some factors that can affect how often you should change your air filter are:
- How many people are in your home – more people equals more dust and dirt in the air \
- If you have pets – it helps to reduce dander
- If you are in a high construction area (such as a new subdivision) or an area with lots of pollen (trees and plants)
What is the ideal temperature to keep my thermostat set at?
Ideally, you want to set your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer. Doing this reduces the difference between the temperature outside and the temperature inside, thus minimizing the need for your HVAC unit to work harder at heating/cooling your home. This not only increases the efficiency of your unit but also helps save money on your bill.
If you’re away for a weekend or longer, you should not shut your system off completely but rather make use of the hold/vacation feature, if there is one. Otherwise, set your thermostat to a few degrees higher than normal (in the summer) or lower (in the winter).
If you were to turn your unit off completely, it could result in higher humidity levels inside the home, which has the potential to lead to mould growth due to decreased circulation.
Is there anything I can do at home if I think my unit is malfunctioning?
Your HVAC system is complicated, and it is best to have a certified professional identify the issue; however, there are a few basic steps you can try which may correct the problem.
- Make sure your circuit breakers are in the ON position
- Open the supply and return vents and make sure they’re unobstructed
- Check the settings on your thermostat
If after completing these steps your system is still having issues, do not hesitate to call an Afterglow professional.
Allergy season is STILL HERE. Thankfully, we’re here to help you keep maintain your home’s air quality with these 4 easy steps!
Hit the Floor
Keeping your floor clean is the number one way to reduce allergens in your home. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are essential for avoiding inhaling irritants that may be tracked into your home. Try a weekly cleaning routine and an outdoor mat to stop that dust dead in it’s tracks! (Get it, shoe tracks)
Ain’t the Heat – It’s the Humidity
Your hair and your lungs will thank you for maintaining the humidity inside your home. Did you know allergens and bacteria love moisture? Keeping your home at a 30% – 50% humidity will help reduce the presence of these irritants. Use your air conditioner in the summer to reduce airborne pollen and a dehumidifier when it’s too chilly for AC.
If You Must Smoke, Take Your Butt Outside
“Since 1964, approximately 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.” (http://www.cdc.gov) We don’t really need to explain this one, don’t smoke inside.
Do you have gas?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in the ground. Unlike the gas you might have, it can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. Possible entry points are anywhere your home touches the soul and there is an opening (foundation cracks, floor drains, dirt floors, etc.). When you are exposed to high levels of radon, it increases your chances of lung cancer. Try purchasing your very own test-it-yourself radon kit or find a professional in your area!
If you think your air quality is still not up to par, call Afterglow for a service checkup!
The heat is on! We have some cool tips for you as the temperature rises, and for the “techies” out there, a great way to start saving money and make your home a smart home! Our feature product of the month is the EcoBee3 Smart Wifi Thermostat. The EcoBee promises “all over home comfort”. Ordinary thermostats read the temperature in one room (usually the hallway) which can make your favourite rooms uncomfortable. That’s why EcoBee3 was created. It works with remote sensors to deliver the right temperature in the rooms that matter most.
With a one-year warranty, Afterglow can install EcoBee in your home for $395 +HST and walk you through your new Smart Thermostat.
“We have installed many EcoBee3’s across Waterloo Region and Guelph. Our customers love the way it keeps their homes at a livable temperature and saves them money on their heating bills.” Stephen McDonald Afterglow GM.
EcoBee is compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems in North America and virtually all commercial heating and cooling equipment.
EcoBee is a one-time investment that gives you remote access, online reports and mobile app capability. Security is a top priority for EcoBee using similar security technology as banks, government agencies and e-commerce sites.
Don’t wait! Get access and start saving money. Call us to install EcoBee3 today!
Why not Nest
Nest is another smart wifi thermostat and arguably EcoBee3’s largest competitor. Nest has apps, allows you to change the temperature via the apps, set schedules and choose temperature preferences. What Nest doesn’t have is remote sensors to let your thermostat know you’re “home”. Using Echo, the voice activation technology associated with EcoBee, you can set your home to a specific temperature, turn the temperature up or down or simply as EcoBee to make your home cooler or warmer.