Posted by & filed under humidity, moisture .

It’s All Relative

Proper humidity levels keep you healthier and more comfortable.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can do more than heat and cool your home. It can also keep the humidity at a comfortable level in winter and summer. It’s a delicate balance: if it’s too low, you’ll feel the effects of colds, respiratory infections, and asthma more, and some of the furnishings in your home will literally dry out. If it’s too high, you’ll be uncomfortable but mold and mildew will flourish. They love moisture!

Residential HVAC systems balance temperature and humidity. The best person to design a system appropriate for your climate and your comfort needs is a professional ACCA member contractor. He or she understands the science of your home and applies the principles contained in the ACCA design and technical manuals to the design, selection, and installation of an HVAC system that’s right for you.

ACCA manuals are the industry standard, often incorporated into local building codes and endorsed or recommended by the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and equipment manufacturers.

Relatively Speaking…

Relative humidity (RH) is the percent of moisture actually in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at that temperature. Cold air can hold less moisture than warm air. At 70°F, air can hold as much as 12 times the amount of moisture as 10°F air. That’s why it’s usually more humid in the hot summer months.

Winter Humidification

Most heating systems just heat the air, changing the temperature, not the humidity. Cold air is dry, and forced-air systems and heat pumps pull outside air for heating. When 10°F outside air is heated to 70°F, the humidity level in your home will be the same as the outside air’s, around 7%. That’s one reason your skin feels dryer, perhaps even chapped, in the winter. So in dry cold climates, you will probably want to add a humidifier to your heating system.

The effects of bacteria, viruses, fungi, respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and asthma, and ozone production during the winter can be minimized by higher humidity levels. Studies have shown that wintertime levels of 68°F/60% RH are just as comfortable as 72°F/30% RH; so by increasing the RH and lowering the temperature, you will minimize negative effects while lowering your utility bills.

Because the outside air temperature and RH can change in a short time, even a few hours, a computer-controlled humidifier is probably your best choice. It will automatically adjust for these fluctuations to provide enough moisture for a healthy, comfortable home and minimize or prevent window and cold surface condensation.

Summer Dehumidification

Air conditioners pull moisture from the air (HVAC professionals call that “latent heat,” as opposed to “sensible heat,” the temperature) as they cool it, which is one reason you feel better in an air conditioned home. If they didn’t, you’d feel cold and clammy instead of cool and comfortable. In particularly hot and humid climates, however, you may need to augment the dehumidifying capacity of your system.

Very high moisture levels give you that “sticky” feeling and may lead to health problems resulting from the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust mites, and mold. Air at 78°F/30% RH provides the same level of comfort as does 74°F/70% RH air. In the summer, turning the thermostat up lowers your utility bills, so dehumidifying can save you money as well as add to your comfort.

Although your air conditioning system or stand-alone dehumidifier is designed to remove moisture and decrease the RH levels in your home, in very humid areas of the country, it may not be capable of lowering the levels below 60% RH. In such cases, your ACCA quality contractor may suggest alternative or additional equipment and control strategies.

It’s Your Choice!

The choice is yours: a comfort and health indoor air system, or a furnace/boiler and an air conditioner. Since more than a third of your time is spent in your home, it is important to make the right choice.

© Air Conditioning Contractors of America Association, Inc., Reprinted with permission

Posted by & filed under air conditioner, hvac, replace system, tips .

Sometimes it seems like our homes are a moving target. Just as soon as you get one part of the house just like you want it, something needs tending to in another area. So, for most of us, we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing that’s going to show up – invited or not – on our “home maintenance” to-do list.

Now, when “air conditioning system replacement” comes up on that list, that’s quite a significant situation. Home comfort systems are a sizeable part of your home investment, so it’s never something to take lightly. But when it’s time, three things should be on your evaluation list:

System Age – If your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, you could save up to 20 percent on cooling and heating costs if you replaced it with a unit that has earned the Energy Star label.

Repair/Energy Costs – A home comfort system has what’s called “operational” costs. If your system is racking up repair bills and guzzling up your energy dollars, you may be overdue for an efficiency upgrade.

Uncomfortable Environment – A home comfort system is supposed to create a comfortable home environment, right? Well, if you’re not comfortable, take note. Are some rooms too hot or too cold? Does your home have humidity problems? This could be a sign of poor or improper equipment operation.

Posted by & filed under ac, air conditioning, hvac .

We’re used to the weather folks giving us a heads-up about what’s going to happen during the day – you know, something along the lines of, “Most parts of Southeast Michigan will see a few showers this morning, but sunshine returns in the afternoon as highs head toward the 90s.”

But if you’re holding your breath that your air conditioning system will hold out for another summer, you’d probably do well with a report along these lines: “The morning will start off calm but strange noises coming from your air conditioning system will indicate that you’re going to have some real problems staying cool in the afternoon as highs head toward the 90s.”

Obviously, our service technicians don’t make predictions like that, but even so, we do know a lot about how air conditioning systems work and how the effects of time impact their performance and leave them vulnerable to poorly timed repairs.

If you’d like to know how well your air conditioning system is going to perform this summer, contact us today!

Posted by & filed under energy, iaq .

Have you ever considered how much the dust that’s gathering in your home is costing you in energy bills?

When dust builds up on the registers and vent covers in your home, for example, it becomes “insulation” that blocks the air’s path into the room. The harder a system has to work to keep your home comfortable, the more you pay in utility costs.

So as you look ahead, a thorough dusting with special attention to registers and vent covers is a good idea. Other ideas?

  • Close drapes to keep out the hot daytime sun, especially on south- and west-facing windows. Sunny windows make air conditioners work 2 to 3 times harder.
  • Close fireplace dampers or glass doors. Going up the chimney with a bound may serve as a dramatic exit for Santa, but don’t allow your cooled air to use that same escape hatch.
  • Position your refrigerator away from sunny windows, hot water heaters, warm air from heating ducts, radiators, stoves and other heat sources. The heat makes cooling harder for your refrigerator.

These are just a few natural, free ways to help reduce your energy costs and increase your comfort. Other small steps can also make a big difference. For example:

It’s no news that energy costs are a big expense for homeowners, especially for customers that need air conditioning repair in Farmington Hills, MI. And not surprisingly, heating and cooling account for more than half of this amount. If you’d like to learn more about conserving energy in your home, contact us today!

Posted by & filed under government, hvac, refrigerant .

Ever heard of the Montreal Protocol? Like many things that happen among and between nations, even if you haven’t heard of it, we’re talking about an event that could affect your life – or, in this case, your home comfort.

Offered up in 1987 for nations to sign and adopt, the Montreal Protocol was an international treaty that focused on a concern for how chemicals and other things in the atmosphere were depleting the ozone layer that was protecting life as we know it on earth. The treaty was amended in 1992 to set a timetable for phasing out chemicals known as HCFCs – which includes in this list a refrigerant that has been used in air conditioning systems since the early ‘70s.

Now, fast forward to today and what this means in practical terms for you: Air conditioners manufactured after 2010 can no longer use the refrigerant R-22 (also known by the brand name Freon) as the coolant of choice. While this refrigerant can still be produced and used to service existing equipment for the time being, in 2020, the production and import of R-22 will end, and it will only be available through recycled and reclaimed processes.

That means simply this: any air conditioning that uses R-22 is looking at a time limit. As you face repairs with any pre-2010 system, we’ll be glad to talk with you about the best ways to extend the life of the equipment (hint: regular maintenance!), and when the time is right for replacement, we’ll give you our best guidance there too.

In the meantime, to learn more about what’s going on contact us!