It’s almost here: the hot season that requires all of us in the San Gabriel Valley who aren’t fond of sweating at our desks to crank up the air conditioner and think about ways to stay cool. And yet, most people aren’t that familiar with the equipment they use both at home and the office. Are you environmentally savvy when it comes to what your air conditioner can and can’t do?
A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to HVAC technology. When the temps outside start rising, it helps to know what you need to do to stay comfortable, without paying too much in utility bills.
Air Conditioning: What Is It?
It’s okay to admit it. Not everyone knows exactly how an air conditioner works, and that’s understandable. Here’s the quick version: air conditioners push the heat inside your home to the outside. Powered by a motor inside the compressor, hot air in your home is cooled by being blown across a set of pipes called an evaporator coil. The coil itself is filled with refrigerant, a substance that changes from its liquid form into a gas when it gets warm. As a gas, it’s pumped outside your home to a second coil, called a condenser, where it loses its heat and changes back into a liquid.
Got it? Maybe yes, maybe no. Remember, HVAC technicians have to study for quite a while to get all their certifications. This brief introduction is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Here’s another fact: did you know Willis Havilland Carrier is regarded as the father of air conditioning? He linked temperature, pressure, humidity, and dew point, using his discoveries to make a cooling unit in 1902. He was also known for his kindness and modesty, as well as for espousing the concepts of teamwork and mentoring, management techniques unused at the time.
A Ton of Cooling: The Story Behind Air Conditioning Capacity Measurements
Don’t be alarmed when you hear an HVAC technician describe bringing a 4-ton unit, for example, into your backyard. It does not refer to weight, but instead refers to the amount of hot air the air conditioner can remove in an hour from your home. Typically, one ton is measured as 12,000 BTUs. It’s a term that came from the days when people used giant blocks of ice to cool their homes, and an amount first standardized in 1903.
Just for perspective, typically a window air conditioner uses less than one ton, while a home HVAC system goes up to 5. Any system larger than 5 tons is considered a light commercial unit. In other words, if your home needs 6 tons of cooling power, you’re looking at installing two (3) ton units, not one (6) ton system.
The important takeaway? HVAC systems are built for efficiency. Larger doesn’t always mean better, and it can translate into unnecessarily expensive energy bills. Make sure your HVAC technician is certified and up to date on all the latest technology available for your home.
Lower Your HVAC Costs With Simple Fixes
Given the way these systems are designed, air conditioners depend on good equipment, solid installation, and a well insulated home to do their jobs right. A failure in any one of those areas can result in hot air leaks and reduced energy efficiency, which in turn translates into higher utility bills and poor performance.
This is why we always recommend homeowners choose a high quality, licensed HVAC contractor to install any air conditioning equipment in your home. Jerry rigged ducts, improperly installed filters, and cheap, outdated HVAC systems are not only dangerous, but will only cost you more money in the long run.
Get the job done right the first time with someone who’s taken the time to familiarize themselves with current standards and best practices of the industry. Like a used car that breaks as soon as you really need it, a low quality air conditioning system is never a good choice.
Where to Go for More Air Conditioning Tips?
Who are we kidding? HVAC can be complicated. However, a little knowledge goes a long way. Call Air-Tro today to find out how you can save. And in the meantime? Show off your new air conditioning know-how to your friends and family! We’re not sure how they’ll react, but hey, we’re always impressed.
Air-Tro has been voted the San Gabriel Valley’s number one choice for heating and air conditioning repair, service and installation six years in a row by local newspaper readers. Discover the Air-Tro difference. Call today! (626) 357-3535.