Info & Education

Ten Time-Proven Tips For Selecting An Air Conditioning Contractor

  1. Check credentials. Before making your selection, call the Better Business Bureau to make sure the dealer is reputable. Also, find out if the dealer is a member of a local or national association such as the Air Conditioning Contractors Association of America.
  2. Make sure the dealer is affiliated with a nationally known manufacturer. Dealers should be taking advantage of factory training offered by their manufacturer. As a result, when they make recommendations, you can be more assured that they’ve selected the right size system for your home, and that they’ve been trained in installation and service.
  3. Ask for references. Former customers are an excellent source of information. Also, ask to see installation photos. A dealer that is proud of work will be more than happy to show it to you.
  4. Expect an on-site evaluation of your home. A good dealer will take a thorough look at your home, ask questions and evaluate your overall comfort needs before making a recommendation. Beware of a dealer that simply takes information over the phone. A good dealer will also look the part. While he’s evaluating your home, you should be evaluating him. Not only should he dress professionally, but his truck and printed materials should look professional as well.
  5. Check local licenses. Depending on where you live, dealers may have to comply with certain local or state regulations, so ask to see proof of these licenses as well as insurance forms for liability and workmen’s compensation.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for details about the firm’s experience and the expertise of its staff. This is particularly important if you’re also adding or changing ductwork ­ in this case, experience is definitely a factor in getting the job done correctly.
  7. Get a written proposal. To make a fair comparison, make sure the proposals you receive are all based on the same efficiency and equipment. You’ll also want to evaluate each dealer’s personal business standards and policies. For example, will he remove old equipment? Will he relocate equipment if you want your new system installed in a different location? What are his clean up and care policies during installation? How will he handle emergency repair? These are just a few of the additional elements a good proposal will include.
  8. Inquire about equipment and labor warranties. Limited warranties vary according to the manufacturer, so make sure you fully understand what you’re getting. Also, don’t forget to inquire about manufacturer’s extended warranties at the time of purchase and other warranties provided by the dealer.
  9. Ask about preventive maintenance service contracts. Many dealers offer service contracts that call for periodic maintenance of equipment, and if needed repairs. The fee for such contracts is usually well worth it in terms of obtaining optimum efficiency and performance for your system.
  10. Finally insist on a written contract. Commit your agreement to writing and have the dealer sign it.

Glossary of Terms

BTU – British Thermal Unit. This is the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. For your home, it represents the measure of heat given off when fuel is burned for heating or the measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling

CFM – Cubic Feet Per Minute. A standard measurement of airflow. A typical system requires 400 CFM per ton of air conditioning.

Capacity – The output or producing ability of a piece of cooling or heating equipment. Cooling and heating capacities are referred to on BTUs.

Compressor – The heart of an air conditioning or heat pump system. It is part of the outdoor unit and pumps refrigerant in order to meet the cooling requirements of the system.

Condensor Coil or Outdoor Coil – In an air conditioner, the coil dissipates heat from the refrigerant, changing the refrigerant from vapor to liquid. In a heat pump system, it absorbs heat from the outdoors.

Damper – Found in ductwork, this movable plate opens and closes to control airflow. Dampers can be used to balance airflow in a duct system. They are also used in zoning to regulate airflow to certain rooms.

Ductwork – Pipes or channels that carry air throughout your home. In a home comfort system, ductwork is critical to performance. In fact, it’s as critical as the equipment.

Evaporator Coil or Indoor Coil – The other half of your air conditioning system located inside your home in the indoor unit. This is where the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs heat from the air that passes over the coil.

Package Unit – A heating and cooling system contained in one outdoor unit. A package unit is typically installed either beside, on top of the home, or sometimes in the attic.

Refrigerant – A chemical that produces a refrigerating effect while expanding and vaporizing. Most residential air conditioning systems contain R-410A or R-22 refrigerant. R-22 is currently being phased out and all the new residential systems contain R-410A (you may also hear the name Puron, which is Carrier’s branded name for this refrigerant).

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the seer, the more energy efficient the unit. The government’s minimum SEER rating is 13. (It’s similar to comparing miles per gallon in automobiles.)

Split System – The combination of an outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump) with an indoor unit (furnace or air handler). Split systems must be matched for optimum efficiency.

Thermostat – A thermostat consists of a series of sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of a heating and cooling system.

Ton – A unit of measurement used for determining cooling capacity. One ton is the equivalent of 12,000 BTUs per hour.

Zoning – A method of dividing a home into different comfort zones so each zone can be independently controlled depending on use and need.

Air Conditioning Energy Saving Tips

by: Chris Blackburn

It costs you more money and uses more energy to heat and cool your home than any other system in your home. Typically, 44% to 50% of your utility bills pays for heating and cooling your home.

Regardless of the type of home comfort systems you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.

Keep in mind that an energy efficient air conditioner alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using an approach that involves the entire house. If you combine proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherisation and thermostat settings, you can reduce your energy bills by up to 50%.

General Cooling Tips:

  • Use house fans. House fans help cool your home by circulating cool air throughout the house. They are most effective when the outside air temperature is cooler than the inside and when operated at night. An attic fan can blow away hot air that accumulates in the attic. This can go a long way to help the efficiency of your air conditioning system.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. By maintaining a minimum difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, you’ll lower your overall cooling bill.
  • Don’t reduce your thermostat setting to a colder temperature than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. This will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
  • Set the fan speed on high, except in humid weather. When it’s humid, set the fan speed on low.
  • Consider ceiling fans to help spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.
  • Keep lamps and TV sets away from your air conditioning thermostat.
  • Shade air-conditioning units by planting trees or shrubs, but make sure you do not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses up to 10% less electricity than one operating in the sun.
  • Close shades or curtains on east, south, and west-facing windows during the hours when the sun’s intensity is at its peak. Open curtains and windows during early morning and overnight hours when the air outside the home is cooler.
  • Turn off the air conditioner if the house (or air-conditioned rooms) will be unoccupied for an extended period. Use a programmable thermostat to turn Air off and on automatically when you know the house will be unoccupied.

Here are a few more steps you can take to substantially improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Take a Holistic Approach to Total Home Energy Conservation

To achieve the maximum in total home comfort and energy savings, we recommend that you step back and look at the big picture of energy consumption in your villa. The fact is, your total home comfort and efficiency is the product of many systems: heating, cooling, lighting & electrical, plumbing and possibly others working together. It is the interplay between these systems, combined with the size, age, physical features and location of your home, and even your lifestyle, that combine to produce the total energy efficiency of your home. Changing or upgrading one system, without considering the other factors will usually result in some improvement, but may not deliver the maximum possible benefit.

If you’re building a new villa, or considering a major remodel or system upgrade, consider an Integrated Systems approach. It may cost a little more now, but will undoubtedly save you a bundle over time. Our skilled engineers and technicians will look at the big picture when designing a solution for your home.

Conduct a Home Energy Audit

The place to begin when evaluating your home’s overall energy efficiency and deciding how to reduce consumption and costs is with a Home Energy Audit. This takes into consideration much more than just your heating and cooling systems, and will give you a benchmark from which to make decisions and measure your energy saving progress.

Here are some of the heating & cooling factors your audit should take into consideration:

  • Insulation in walls, floors, and attic.
  • Vapor Barriers in walls
  • Quality of Windows — Single or double pane
  • Heat loss around doors and windows
  • Quality of insulation in doors
  • Integrity of ductwork “— Any leaks
  • Cleanliness of ductwork
  • Use of “passive” solar energy
  • Use of curtains and other window coverings to prevent heat loss
  • Efficiency of heating and cooling systems — Condition of filters, etc.

Consider Purchasing an Annual Maintenance Agreement

You’ve heard the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well that doesn’t apply to your air conditioner any more than it does to your automobile. However, when your system is operating properly, it is easy to forget. Regular maintenance will save you the time money and headaches of premature system failures and major repairs. It will ensure that your system is always working at peak efficiency and help you avoid excessive energy costs.

Make sure your Air Conditioner is properly sized

Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better – A bigger room air-conditioning unit won’t necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer months and will most likely perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. Room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time as opposed to being constantly switched on and off. The longer running time an air conditioner is allowed to maintain, the easier it is for the unit to hold a more constant room temperature. Running longer also allows air conditioning units to remove more moisture from the air, which reduces humidity and increases the comfort level in the room. Check specifications carefully when choosing the right air conditioner for your space. Central air-conditioning systems also require proper sizing. Professionals, however, should perform the sizing of your central air system. Also, do not use the system’s central fan to provide circulation. Instead, use circulating fans in individual rooms. Make sure you set the fan of your central air system to shut off at the same time of your cooling unit (compressor). Use an Air Conditioner with a high Efficiency Rating.

How much does a system cost?

Source : Trane Website

Total system cost varies by region and depends on a number of factors, including available rebates, installation fees and additional components.

Purchase Price

Because a central heating and air conditioning system is not an off-the-shelf product, it requires a professional dealer to assess and install a system that’s right for your home. There is no MSRP. Multiple factors enter into the purchase price of your new system, such as: the seasonal temperature where you live, the type and age of your home, the interior duct work inside your home, local or state regulations and available tax rebates.

Beyond the Purchase Price

Replacing your home is heating and air conditioning system is a major decision, but you need to think more than just about the initial purchase price. Factor in how much you can save on your current energy bill by replacing your older system with a higher efficiency system.

Cost Factor: Home Construction

The way your home is constructed can affect the size (capacity) of your air conditioning and heating system. For example, insulation can play a role. R-values tell you the insulation’s resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the more resistant. Insulation with higher R-values can help decrease the system size you’ll need for your home. Lower R-values may mean that the capacity of your system has to be increased in order to keep your home comfortable. Homes with well-insulated windows, doors, walls, roofs, attics, floors, basements, and crawl spaces, along with sealed exterior cracks and seams, typically require less air conditioning and heating capacity than homes that are not as well insulated.

Cost Factor: Home Location

The region where you live will also affect the size of your heating and air conditioning system. For example, the same size home located in the southern half of the United States will require a larger capacity air conditioning system than a similar home in the northern half of the United States. Of course, a home located in the northern half of the United States will need a larger heating capacity requirement than a home in the south.

The direction your home faces is another consideration in determining system size. For example, a home with more exterior wall areas that face south and west will need greater air conditioning capacity than one with more exterior wall area facing north and east. If your home has a large window area that faces south or west, you will need greater air conditioning capacity, as well.

Cost Factor: Ductwork

Ductwork is the air distribution system in your home that directs and delivers heated or cooled air. The duct system has a significant impact on system performance and plays an integral role in determining how comfortable your home is from room to room. When properly designed and installed, a duct system can maximize comfort and minimize energy use. If it is time to replace your aging system and you have hot or cold rooms in your house, you may want to consider making duct system improvements at the same time your dealer installs the new system. Install a properly sized duct system with registers and grilles that deliver air quietly and evenly.

What size system do I need?

Source : Trane Website

It’s important to install the right Trane matched system size for your home, depending on a number of factors.

When it comes to your heating and air conditioning system, bigger isn’t always better, and smaller isn’t always more economical.

The Wrong System Size Could Cost You

A system that is too large will cool or heat your house quickly, but you still may not feel comfortable. That’s because it will satisfy the temperature setting on your thermostat before it can adequately remove sufficient moisture from the air—which is what makes you feel so sticky and uncomfortable in summer. What’s more, the stress of short cycling (too many starts and stops) will shorten the life of your equipment and increase your heating and air conditioning bills.

A system that is too small just cannot get the job done. The air conditioner will run constantly in the summer and the furnace will do the same in winter, which may overtax your system and increase your energy consumption.

In most homes across the country, systems are in fact too large. And an oversized system not only makes it more difficult to control your comfort levels, it costs you money, because you’re essentially paying to heat or cool space that isn’t even there. That’s why a properly completed load calculation is so important. Your independent Trane dealer can determine the correct system type and size for your home by doing a room-by-room load calculation. This heat loss/heat gain analysis is the best indicator of the correct system size and takes into consideration such critical factors as:

  • Climate
  • Number of windows and type of window treatments
  • Insulation and ductwork
  • Building materials and roof construction
  • Skylights and fireplaces
  • Ceiling heights
  • The number of people in your home

How do I clean or change my filter?

Source : Trane Website

Maintaining your air filter is easy, and routine maintenance will keep you breathing easier.

Most filters are easy to slide or swap out, and it’s one of the few things you can do to maintain your filter without the help of a Trane Comfort Specialist. However, it’s important to check your owner’s manual before performing any maintenance on your Trane or any air filter.

How often do I need to clean/change my filter?

You should always double-check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations, but generally speaking it’s best to clean or change your filters once every 3 to 9 months. Remember, regular cleaning/changing of your filter will ensure the best filtration, increase the life of your machine, and give you peace of mind that you’re breathing easier.

How does a central heating/cooling system work?

Source : Trane Website

Central heating and central cooling systems are separate things but they are matched to work together. Here’s how.

Central Cooling

The most common central cooling system is a split system, which includes an outdoor cabinet containing a condenser coil and compressor, and an indoor evaporator coil, usually installed in conjunction with your furnace or air handler. The compressor pumps a chemical called refrigerant through the system.

How It Works

Once warm air inside your home blows across the indoor evaporator coil, its heat energy transfers to the refrigerant inside the coil. That transfer, in turn, “cools” the air. The refrigerant is pumped back to the compressor where the cycle begins again. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant is moved outside your home while cooled air is blown inside. Moisture that contributes to humidity is also condensed out of the air.

Your cooling system is usually combined with your central heating system because they share the same ductwork for distributing conditioned air throughout your home.

Central Heating

Central heating systems have a primary heating appliance, such as a furnace, typically located in your basement or garage. All furnaces consist of four main components: 1) burners that deliver and burn fuel, 2) heat exchangers, 3) a blower and 4) a flue that acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products. Depending on your situation, region and needs, you can choose from heating systems running on either gas or oil as fuel, or a hybrid packaged system that can use both fuel types.

How It Works

Combustion gases are generated by the burners in your furnace and passed through a heat exchanger. Air from your home blows across the heat exchanger to be warmed. It is then blown through a system of ducts to distribute around your home. During warm seasons your heating system works with your central air conditioning. Air is cooled as it’s blown over your air conditioning unit’s cooling coil, often attached to the air circulating fan of the furnace, and then sent through the same air ducts throughout your home.

Your local Trane Comfort Specialist can help you decide which central cooling and heating system is right for you. Trane matched systems can be customized with cooling and heating units that match your situation and let you choose from a range of energy efficiency.