Atlanta AC Tip: Save Energy and Save Money This Summer

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Though we hate to admit it, we all do it without thinking: turn our Atlanta AC higher instead of turning on a fan, or forget about the thermostat settings which are set to full-blast when we are not at home.  Oftentimes it is the simple things which can have the most impact, and with saving energy this is true as well.

Households throughout the US will spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200 per year on energy costs.  With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

 Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

 Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

 Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately.

For more information on how to save on cooling in Atlanta, give Cool Air Mechanical a call today!

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Atlanta AC Question: What Are Thermostatic Expansion Valves?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The thermostatic expansion valve, sometimes known as a TEX, TEV or TXV, is a critical piece to influence the efficiency of  your Atlanta air conditioning system.  A tiny sensor controlling the evaporating phase of process, the valve can have a big effect.

Cool air is manufactured by a rapid movement of a refrigerant between liquid and gaseous states.  Compound chemicals that are able to do this at a low temperature are compressed and expanded, absorbing and releasing heat at different points along the way.  The TEV controls the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator coils according to the temperatures of the various ingredients.

Cool Air 101

To condition air, the refrigerant, most often freon or another fast acting, low temp compound, evaporates into a gas that runs through a coil and absorbs heat.  Passing through a compressor, the freon condenses under pressure back into a liquid again and releases the heat, becoming cool enough to chill a party.

Too much freon in the evaporator tube and the pressure is not low enough to expand to gas and absorb heat, working inefficiently for no gain.  Too little freon and the conversion is also ineffective by not reaching the density needed to condense.

There are four types of valves with different benefits for different types of cooling environments.  With its ability to adjust minutely to changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve creates the perfect mixture of pressure and freon for more complicated systems.

At the Starting Gate

An interactive device, the valve senses the evaporator pressure and temperature and adjusts the flow of the refrigerant so as to maintain a given “superheat”, the differ­ence between the refrigerant vapor temperature and its sat­uration temperature.  By controlling superheat, the TEV keeps nearly the entire evaporator surface active while not permit­ting liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor.

Some valves operate on an electrical impulse from sensors that can measure the temperatures.  Others are open all the time.  The thermostatic expansion valve actually utilizes the pressure between the two sections to open or close itself, regulating flow based on the very same pressure it is designed to moderate.

Like the buildings they comfort, central air conditioning systems in Atlanta are varied and diverse.  There are nearly as many thermostatic expansion valves as there are units to receive them. For more information about your air conditioner or to schedule a service call, contact Cool Air Mechanical today!

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Atlanta HVAC Tip: Heat Pump Air Duct Requirements

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Heat Pump Technology

Among the systems getting a fresh look are Atlanta heat pumps, a device that transfers thermal energy from one location to another, usually in the direction of from a colder temperature to higher and generally the opposite of the natural flow.  While compressor-driven air conditioners and freezers are technically heat pumps, “heat pump” is the term that usually implies one of the less-common devices in the class that are not dedicated to refrigeration-only.

Heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling; they simply reverse the heat flow from inside to outside and vice versa depending on the season. Heat pumps use the thermal energy in the outdoor air, even when the temperature is near freezing they can still transfer the heat that is in the air into your home. Since heat pumps transfer heat instead of producing it through combustion, more and more people are seeing them as an energy efficient Atlanta heating and cooling option.

Atlanta HVAC  - Air DuctsChange of Use

In considering a change from an existing system to a heat pump, there are many details to compare to see if it makes any sense at all.

Since a heat pump typically moves conditioned air through ductwork, the advantages of the change are much more realistic with a system of pre-existing ducts such as a forced air furnace or central air-conditioning unit.  While a heat pump often requires a larger volume of ducts, the old network of metal tunnels was often over-sized for inefficient furnaces and should do fine in a conversion to a heat pump.

The Right Data

Since the required formulas are dependent upon variables such as size, distance, volume and oomph, the design is strategic and makes all the difference.  Consulting with a trained and experienced professional such as Cool Air Mechanical is critical to the success of the conversion.

Do the homework to get the best recommendation for your home.

Photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sblackley/3489380984/

 

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How to Clean Up and Repair Damage from Mold: A Guide from Tucker

Monday, November 28th, 2011

So, you had your air quality tested and a mold inspector visited your Tucker home and gave you the bad news – there is mold in your house. What’s the next step? For millions of homeowners every year, mold becomes a reality and the cleanup and repair seem daunting. But depending on the severity of the problem, there may be a relatively simple solution.

Step 1- Fix the Problem

Before any cleanup occurs, the first step is to fix whatever problem caused the mold initially. In most cases, this is a source of excess water or humidity getting into your home. It could be a leak in your attic or standing water in your basement. Whatever the source, it needs to be repaired before any removal can occur.

Step 2 – Removing Damaged Items

Mold has a habit of destroying that which it grows on. This includes window frames, floor boards and furniture. For the most part, it’s recommended that you throw away anything affected by mold. Old carpet, upholstery, books, and clothing can be replaced – and rarely can mold be effectively removed from those items without a heavy cost. If something has sentimental valuable, make sure to consult an expert as to whether it can be cleaned.

Step 3 – Remove the Mold

With the water source fixed and damaged items removed, it’s time to clean up the mold damage. Any water or remaining dampness is removed first, usually with some form of vacuum cleaner or wet vac system. If a professional visits, they may wear protective masks or clothing to avoid inhaling potentially toxic mold spores – remember that while most mold is only an allergen, some mold can be dangerous even to healthy, non-allergic people.

If you choose to clean up the mold yourself, make sure you have it tested prior to cleanup to ensure it won’t be a health risk to you or your family.

Step 4 – Sterilization

Hopefully your mold problem is only on surfaces and removable fibers. Some mold can get into walls and ductwork, a problem which requires a much more in-depth cleaning process to correct. For this type of mold infestation, make sure you call a professional so you can be sure it is completely removed. To ensure mold being cleaned doesn’t enter the air and make anyone sick, it is usually contained with a wood frame or protective plastic sheeting. Careful removal with HEPA vacuums and sterilizing wipes is also recommended to ensure all mold spores are gone.

Mold is a problem for millions but if properly removed it doesn’t need to be a problem in your home. Make sure you call someone you can trust for testing, cleanup and prevention and your home will be safe and clean for years to come.

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