Here at Comfort Solutions Heating and Cooling, Inc we are getting a lot of questions asking what does SEER mean? The quotes that people are getting when looking to add an air conditioner or heat pump will usually list the SEER as well as other information to help people decide which unit is best for their home.
A lot sales people don’t spend a lot of time explaining what it means. Instead they sell you the benefits of each unit and barely touch on how it could help you in determining which air conditioner unit you want.
What does SEER stand for?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This means that the amount of cooling that is produced to cool the home during the cooling season(the BTU’s) is divided by the amount of electricity used. The higher the SEER rating the better the air conditioner’s efficiency.
If you are looking for a unit that has an Energy Star Label, then those unit will be at a 15 SEER or higher.
Even the basic models nowadays have a higher SEER then those from 15-20 years ago. You have to keep in mind that even those that have a high SEER, like a 21 SEER, will not always perform at that level. It just means that it can get up that high, but may in fact go lower.
A SEER rating isn’t the only determination of efficiency. You need to take into account the units quality and longevity, how often you plan to run it, the EER rating, what temperature you plan to keep your home at, as well as size of the unit. Your sales consultant can help you in determining which size if right for your home.
The SEER is only a part of what can help you decide which unit is right for you. Contact us for a free quote to help you decide which unit is best for your home.
When Did You Last Check Your Filter?
Dirty filters are a frequent source of issues when it comes to your heating and cooling system. Instead of calling an HVAC company first, you may be able to save yourself a little bit of money by checking out your filter.
In the summer, your air conditioner requires the use of your furnace in order to push the air into your home. This means that air is traveling thru your filter, which will cause it to get dirty. Not changing your filter will cause the evaporator coils to freeze up because the air flow is restricted. Not good when your trying to keep cool during these hot Portland, OR days.
In the winter, your heat exchangers will overheat and will shut down, so your house never warms up. The limit switch that is in place as a safeguard could eventually fail, and then your furnace won’t come on at all. With the winter we just had here in Portland, OR not having a properly working furnace can have serious consequences.
If you use a dirty air filter, then the blower fan must work harder to push air thru. This causes more energy use, which will affect your energy bill. Using a dirty filter will also spread any mold or bacteria growing on your filter throughout the house.
So make sure that in-between your annual maintenance’s, you are checking your filter every 2- 3 months, and replace as needed.
Window A/C to Central A/C Worth the Investment?
Do you have a window air conditioner? Ever wonder what it would be like if you had central air or even if its worth switching? Are you concerned they are costing more than putting in central air?
A Few Things to Remember About Window Air Conditioner Units
- They tend to sweat which mean they will introduce moisture into the room.
- Window units are hard to seal which means that some of that hot and humid air will come into the room, not to mention bugs. YUCK!
- They can get very loud with decibel levels being as high as 82 decibels.
- In order for you to get the most out of them you either need to buy a cover for them or take them down and put them up every year.
- They can get expensive to run.
- Perfect choice if your only needing to cool down 1 or 2 rooms.
Window units are cheaper in terms of the expense of buying one versus switching to central air conditioning, but you still have to maintain the unit in order to get the most out of it. They also have the added benefit of being something you can install yourself. The draw back comes when you are trying to cool down several rooms, which means you are running several units. This means you are not being very efficient with cooling and your electric bill will be going up pretty quickly.
Central air is great if you have duct work in place. Even switching up to a heat pump will help save on both your heating and cooling bill. Most air conditioners nowadays have a higher SEER then days gone by. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is important because it tells a homeowner the relative amount of energy that is needed to provide a certain level of cooling.
A Few thing to Remember About Central Air
- You don’t need duct work in place to get cooling. Ductless heat pumps are another option to get cooling for a particular space.
- Central air can keep the whole house cool instead of just one room, which can also make it more cost effective in the long run.
- More aesthetically pleasing then having several window units all over your house.
- Depending on which type you get, it may help to dehumidify your home. (see a HVAC specialist to see which is the best for your home).
- Today’s model are most energy efficient.
If you are just not sure which is the best for your home, give Comfort Solutions Heating & Cooling a call. The consult is free and it may just help you determine what is best for you and your home.
Spring is here in beautiful Portland, OR!
Well, as good as its going to get for now. We seem to be continuing to experience cool temperatures and LOTS of rain. Even with that, many of us have already started on spring cleaning. After all, it’s Oregon, and a little rain does not bother us Oregonian’s. So while your cleaning out your closet to get rid of that t-shirt collection that someone in the house thinks is a great homage to every concert they have been to since they were 16, or that treadmill that has just been collecting dust in your garage since the last new year (2016), make sure your air conditioner/heat pump maintenance is on your to do list.
You pay all this money for comfort, so it is always best to be proactive and make sure its in top working order. Not to mention, the air conditioner/heat pump always seems to go out at the hottest time of the year. Which of course is when it’s nearly impossible to find any heating & cooling company that can come out within the same week, let alone the same month. If you do not catch any issue early enough, it could end up costing you. Possibly, a new unit if it goes unchecked, and that isn’t cheap.
For most of us, it’s probably been a year or more since we had our cooling looked at. In that time, a years’ worth of dirt and debris will have clogged the coil fins. (Coil fins are those aluminum fin like things that are on the evaporator and condenser coils.) They bend easily, which then blocks air flow thru the coil. This means that not enough cool air is coming into the house. Good news is they can be put back with a fin comb.
A leak could have also developed over that time. If you have even the smallest leak, you will have lost refrigerant, which will directly affect how much cooling you will have. As the coolant continues to leak you will eventually lose all coolant and that can get to be an expensive repair. Just as an FYI, if you have an older unit that uses R-22, its time to start budgeting for a new unit. Even if your unit is working just fine, R-22 is being phased out. This means that the cost of using R-22 will continue to rise. Check out this link for more information. New systems now use R-410, which is much better for the environment and your repair bill for replacing refrigerant will be a lot less.
What you should expect from an air conditioner/heat pump maintenance?
Make sure to have your air conditioner/heat pump serviced when it is at least 60 degrees out. This will ensure that the system is working correctly and not just working with the cold air outside.
The technician should do at minimum the following:
- Cleaning dirt, leaves and other debris from the condensing coils
- Check the state of your refrigerant
- Ensure your fan is working properly
- Test safety controls
- Test thermostat operation
- Test & inspect drain pan safety switches
- Inspect electrical disconnect box
- Check equipment grounding
- Inspect and test contactors and relays
- Inspect electrical connections and wires.
- Inspect all stand alone capacitors
- Measure and record AMP draw to blower motor
- Inspect fan belt
- Inspect and clean condensate drain and traps
- Inspect coil fins
- Inspect refrigerant lines
- Check for oil leaks
- Inspect indoor coil
They should pretty much check the entire unit, inside and out. A good service technician will go over their findings with you and be able to show you anything that is concerning.
What You Can Do
Make sure you are changing your air filter regularly. A plugged air filter will restrict the air flow and cause your system to work harder than it should. This can result in your system developing issues sooner. If you are in need of a filter, contact Comfort Solutions (Mention this blog, and get 10% off the filter purchase). They can replace the filter while out for your air conditioner/heat pump maintenance.
To keep your air conditioner protected thru the wet and snow months, you can purchase an air conditioning cover. The best covers are ones that are made specifically for your unit so you know you’re getting the best fit. Contact Comfort Solutions Heating and Cooling and we can get a customized air conditioner cover ordered for you and shipped directly to your home. (If you mention this blog, you can save 10% on that too!)
You just need to remember to take it off the unit before you are going to start using it. Bad things will happen if you forget your cover is on, and you start running your air conditioner. After all, it needs air to run and a cover would prevent that from happening. Also, you will still want to check your unit after any storms, first to make sure it didn’t fly off (it happens on occasion), and second, because debris can still work its way in.
You can also clean off your unit by using simple green. Clean it well, and hose it off. This will help keep the dirt and debris out. Just make sure to turn off the unit first.
Lastly, call a heating and cooling company. If something is wrong and a maintenance doesn’t fix it, then their service technician should be able to pinpoint the issue and offer a solution to fix it.