Understanding S.E.E.R. Ratings

When purchasing a new heat pump or air conditioner, the term SEER, will pop up many times. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It rates how much energy you will use to cool your home. SEER is not to be confused with E.E.R or HSPF which rate total efficiency and heating seasonal performance factor. SEER is best compared to the miles per gallon your car will get. The higher the SEER, the better the efficiency. Some contractors will use this rating to convince you to purchase the highest SEER possible so “you will save the most money operating your system”. The minimum SEER the government allows to be sold is 13.00 SEER and that minimum will change in 2014 to become 14.00 SEER.

Some contractors in the Waldorf and Southern Maryland area will compare your old system to a new SEER rating and attempt to show you that you will “Save” a substantial percentage of your electric bill. Using the example that if your old system was a 10 SEER and you are buying a 13 SEER, you’ll save 30% on your electric bill. That is absolutely not the case.

First of all, your AC system equals approximately 50% of your electric bill in the summer. Your water heater typically accounts for 25% of your electric bill yearly. There is no way to break out “just” your Air Conditioner unit to determine savings or usage. There are many web sites that will help you calculate your yearly savings and your pay back period when replacing an air condition or heating system with a higher SEER.

Does Your Furnace Really Need a Yearly Inspection?

By: Reuben Saltzman

A recent blog post about fall maintenance mentioned having your furnace inspected/tuned up by a qualified heating contractor annually. One reader sent an email asking if this was really necessary – here’s his original question:

“I have a question about furnace tune-ups. You say get one every year – is that really necessary? What do the HVAC guys actually do to the furnace to ‘tune’ it up? There’s no spark plugs to replace like a car tune-up, and my understanding is they basically vacuum out dust and inspect it. Couldn’t the homeowner do this himself? Or do I really need to pay $80-$150 every year for a professional to do it?”

These are great questions worthy of a post all on their own.

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Furnace manufacturers all recommend annual inspections and maintenance by a qualified technician. They also have language in their warranties saying that damage to the units caused by improper maintenance is not covered under the warranty. Does this mean that an annual furnace checkup is really required, or the warranty is voided? Probably not, but it’s recommended. The best analogy is going to the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning; probably not necessary, but recommended.

Some HVAC contractors recommend getting newer furnaces checked every other year, but once they’re more than 10 years old, have them checked annually.

Furnace Maintenance

By: Fix It Club

Heating systems are usually trouble-free and easy to maintain, even when you have dramatic temperature swings like we have in Waldorf, White Plains, Mechanicsville and La Plata. Efficient operation is a function of good regular maintenance. No matter what type of furnace you have, there are several things you can do to keep your heating system in top condition. In this article, we will tell you how to service and troubleshoot your furnace, regardless of the type.

When a heating or cooling system malfunctions, any one of its three components — heat/cold source, distribution system, or thermostat — may be causing the problem. If the furnace or air conditioner doesn’t run, the malfunction is probably at the source. The furnace or air conditioner may have lost power. Fuel may not be reaching the unit. If the fuel is gas or oil, it may not be igniting. If the furnace or air conditioner turns on but the warm or cool air isn’t reaching the rooms of your home, the problem is likely to be the blower or distribution system. And a faulty control, or thermostat, could keep the system from turning on or could cause it to turn on and off repeatedly. Whatever the problem, start with the simplest procedures. In most cases, all it takes is patience and common sense.

If you don’t feel comfortable services your own system Aire Care specializes in the Waldorf, White Plains, La Plata, Hughesville and Mechanicsville area and will be happy to work with you to ensure your system is running at peak performance and efficiency.

10 Air Conditioning Mistakes To Avoid

Learn how to save money and energy this summer.

By: Steve Graham

For most homes in warm climates, air conditioning uses more electricity than any other use — up to 70 percent of a summer electric bill, according to some estimates. However, there are ways for most people to reduce this load by changing their air conditioning habits. Here are the biggest air conditioning mistakes people make, and how to reduce usage and electric bills.

Mistake No. 1: Buying Too Big an Air Conditioner

Bigger isn’t always better. Many people are inclined to get a bigger air conditioner, assuming it will make the home colder faster. However, an oversized air conditioner won’t generate uniform temperatures or reduce humidity. It will also run inefficiently by cycling on and off quickly. Of course, a unit may also be too small to properly cool the space.

Mistake No. 2: Putting the Air Conditioner in a Hot Spot

It may seem convenient to put air conditioners in an unused spot on the southwest side of the house. However, such placement will make the unit work too hard. Instead, install the air conditioner in a shady spot on the east or north side of the house, where it will receive less direct sunlight.

Mistake No. 3: Hiding the Air Conditioner

The air conditioner may not be pretty, but neither are excessive summer electric bills. Don’t try to hide air conditioners behind shrubs or other plants. It will hinder ventilation, clog condenser coils and make the air conditioner run less efficiently.