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What to expect from different air conditioning systems

There are a few different types of A/C systems that can be beneficial here in Tampa. For the most part, these systems are designed for a specific type of application—whether it’s for a single family home or for an office building. The most common system is the split system, which can be used in both homes and office buildings, but most commonly is found in homes. As its name implies, the system is split into two parts, one located inside and one located outside. This system operates at a higher efficiency than the other options, which is why it is so common right now. Package units are found in commercial applications more often than in homes. Unlike a split system, the entire package is contained into one unit. Therefore, the benefit of a package unit is that it takes up less room and can be simply placed on the roof or ground next to a business or home. Ductless split systems are similar to the split system in that they have both inside and outside components. However, they don’t have any duct work. They can hang on a wall or be installed on the ceiling. They typically blow out enough air for just one room but can sometimes cover two. Ductless split systems are usually used when there is no room for duct work. They are similar to window units but different in that they can be positioned within walls and are more quiet and attractive than window units. A typically less desirable A/C system is a packaged terminal unit. These are mostly found in hotels and motels. These units stick on the wall and are more similar to window units in that they can be very noisy. Finally, we have the window unit. This unit remains in the window and is extremely noisy. It also does not have great efficiency. Certainly the air conditioning industry has many options! I personally like the split system best because it offers such reliable efficiency. However, I also really like packaged units for commercial settings because of how easy they are to service. The ductless split’s efficiency is also appealing; it received some of the SEER highest efficiency ratings. With so many great options available to us, it’s easy to keep Tampa Bay feeling cool!

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Air

Unfortunately, in today’s world, pollution is everywhere. And with the type of cleaning products, manmade goods, and activities undertaken within homes and buildings, indoor environments can become very uncomfortable. Even the air we consider to be “fresh” outdoor air has as many as 30 million dust or pollutant particles per cubic foot. There are, however, measures that can be taken to lessen the effects of these particles in our homes. Since the home is essentially an enclosed system, we are able to take pollution head-on because the air is artificially moved around in our homes. By moving the air through a high efficiency air cleaner, we can remove many of the pollutants that cause discomfort. What does an air cleaner do? At a basic level, an air cleaner should filter out the particles that cause irritation such as pollen, spores, dust and other contaminates that circulate in our homes everyday. In order for any air cleaner to work correctly, the particles need to pass through it. Hence, if the particles are not in the airstream (i.e., dust on furniture), it is unreasonable to assume that these particles will be removed. However, a good air cleaner will: Remove allergy-causing particles that pass through it. Perform well consistently. Be economical to maintain. Handle a large volume of air efficiently. How can an air cleaner help with allergies? Ask most doctors and they’re likely to tell you that the best way to treat someone with allergies is to remove the offending allergen. By using an air cleaner, you can effectively reduce or remove pollutants, pollen, airborne mold spores and other harmful, unwanted irritants. This can be accomplished by selecting a portable air cleaner for smaller spaces or a whole-house air cleaner that works in conjunction with your forced air system to provide cleaner air throughout your home. What kinds of residential air cleaners are out there? There are basically two: a furnace-mounted, whole-house unit and portable single-room unit. Both types of cleaners have different models with varying methods of cleaning the air and capacities for doing so. Your dwelling may help determine the right unit for your needs. An apartment, for example, may better utilize a room air cleaner, while a home with a furnace and/or air conditioning system might be best suited to a whole-house unit. It’s important to note that both room and system air cleaners come in a variety of models, and that not all models use the same technology to clean the air. Each cleaner type has its pros and cons, which may differ depending on your air cleaning requirements. Take a look at what your needs are based on your dwelling and choose the best unit to maximize the benefits. What are the most effective air cleaners? Media Air Cleaners These units use high efficiency pleated media to remove larger particles with over 99% efficiency, including many allergens. With irritants in the spore and pollen range, they are as effective as HEPA filters. Where they differ is in their capability to filter out the super small particulate such as bacteria, viruses and respirable dust. Media air cleaners are cost effective compared to HEPA filters because the media is usually less expensive and generally needs to be replaced only once every one or two years. HEPA Air Cleaners HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) cleaners use high efficiency pleated media (filter) to remove particles. To be designated a HEPA, an air cleaner must remove 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns (dust and mold spores) in size. Due to high cost, operational complications and other problems, HEPA units are usually seen in residential applications as one-room, portable units. When media in these units needs to be replaced, it’s often relatively expensive to do so. Some require charcoal filters that need to be cleaned frequently. Warranties for HEPA cleaners are normally one to three years. Electrostatic Air Filters Based on heating and air conditioning industry standards, electrostatic air filters are not recognized as true high efficiency air cleaners. However, they are generally recognized as being more effective than the standard one-inch throw-away filters. Electrostatic air filters depend on the movement of the air through the filter to give particles a weak electronic charge. Usually, these models are less than 20% efficient, with some models having efficiencies of less than 5%. They need to be cleaned often to maintain air flow, sometimes weekly. Electrostatic air filters have warranties ranging from one year to lifetime. Electronic Air Cleaners There are two types of electronic air cleaners. Both electrically charge particles and attract them to a collection material. The standard electronic air cleaner will collect charged particles on a “plate” designed to attract those particles. Most electronic cleaners can obtain 95% efficiency or more on various particles when the collection plates and ionizing wires are clean, but they can lose some efficiency as they collect dirt. A newer technology in electronic air cleaners is called electronically enhanced media. It combines elements of both electronic and media air cleaners. Particles are electrically charged and then collected by the massive air cleaning media of a traditional high efficiency cleaner. The replacement of the media is simple and there are no plates to clean, efficiency is maintained throughout the media’s life. Electronically enhanced media air cleaners are 99% effective in the removal of numerous particle categories. Electronic air cleaners generally have warranties of one to five years.

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Preventative Maintenance = Savings

Independent Air Conditioning offers preventive maintenance agreements (PMAs) for scheduled inspections and maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. PMAs are generally scheduled semi-annually to maintain peak efficiency, prevent utility overpayment, and avert system failures through predictive maintenance that can help extend the life of your HVAC system. Sometimes PMAs are also referred to as “planned maintenance agreements,” “start and checks,” or “preventative service agreements.” PMAs usually consist of fall and spring scheduled sessions for a service technician to go through your entire HVAC system preparing it for the upcoming season in a proactive approach before system failure and prior to overpaying your utility company. Energy Consumption The HVAC system is most likely the single biggest use of energy in your home. In commercial applications where refrigeration is applied (combined with the HVAC systems), huge amounts of energy are used in the building. In fact, over 1/3 rd of the energy used in the United States is used to heat and cool buildings. According to the Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) up to 50% more energy can be saved with proper installation, sizing, and maintenance of commercial central air conditioning and heat pumps. “Although the CEE study did not measure residential systems, a compelling case can be made that proper maintenance can save homeowners up to 50% as well,” according to Larry Taylor, President of Air Rite A/C Company, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas. Out of Sight, NOT Out of Mind The old but true cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is often the reason for neglected maintenance guidelines for your HVAC system. HVAC systems are usually installed where they aren’t seen, such as in a section of the basement, a closet, on rooftops, or in mechanical rooms, making them easy to ignore. The systems are simply taken for granted, until they fail. Decreased efficiency, utility overpayment, discomfort, loss of productivity, eventual premature replacement, and higher repair costs are the result. Just because your HVAC system is out of sight, does not mean it can be neglected. Getting your HVAC system checked twice annually is just as important as changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles! What should you expect during a PMA visit? The service technician will: Check system functions, safety controls, and adjust the operating sequence where appropriate. Inspect electrical components and connections and repair/replace or tighten as required. Ensure proper airflow and change dirty air filters. Inspect pumps, lubricate, and check flow rates where appropriate. Clean and lubricate motors as required. Examine belts, adjust and align as required. Inspect, clean and balance blowers as required. Spring Visit (preparation for summer season): Clean inside coil, condensate pans, condensate traps, and condensate lines to prevent obstructions. Clean outside coil and straighten fins for efficient operation. Check refrigerant levels and if low, find the leak. (According to many equipment manufacturers, a 10% refrigerant loss will result in a 20% decrease in system efficiency!) Fall Visit (preparation for winter season): Clean the burner assembly. Remove soot from fireside of burner. Clean and check operation of humidifier. Visually or with remote camera, inspect heat exchanger for cracks. Adjust air/fuel ratio of burner and perform combustion analysis. (Instrumentation used for combustion analysis is a means of fine-tuning a burner to achieve maximum fuel efficiency and “optimum firing.”) Note: For heat pump applications, winter season inspections repeat a number of the summer procedures plus several additional checks. Maintaining semi-annual PMAs for heatpumps is also important. What’s your bottom line? Savings: PMAs typically more than pay for themselves through higher efficiency, less utility overpayment, and contractor discounts. PMA customers typically receive a discount on all parts and services performed during the entire year. Peace of Mind: Predictive maintenance will mean fewer system failures and a longer life for your HVAC equipment. Priority Service: Should a system failure occur during the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, customers with PMAs generally receive priority service. Continuity: Many ACCA contractors are often able to assign technicians to the specific customers. That way, you get to see and know the same service technician, and he or she becomes more familiar with you and your equipment.

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Energy Saving Tips

Summer and its soaring temperatures are here in full force, and you want to know how to keep your home or office cool and comfortable without outrageous energy bills. These 5 tips will help you reduce heat flow in your home, allowing you to set your thermostat higher and thus lower your energy bills. 1.) Change your bulbs to CFLs. CFLs use 75% less energy and last 6-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. 2.) Put your thermostat to work when you’re away from the home or office. If possible, install a programmable thermostat that will allow you to raise temperatures when you are away. If not possible, remember to turn the a/c up when you leave your house or office. There’s no sense cooling a home or office if no one is around to enjoy the cooler temperatures! 3.) Many consumer electronics not only use up energy even when not in use but also generate heat that forces your a/c system to work harder to keep your home or office cool. Unplug consumer electronics, such as computers, video game systems, kitchen appliances and chargers, when not in use. This can save you up to 15% in energy costs! 4.) Make sure air vents are not blocked by furniture or any other items. This will allow cool air to circulate more easily, keeping your home or office cooler without forcing the system to work harder. 5.) Monitor your windows. When the day is hot and the sun is strong, cover your windows with drapes or close your blinds to keep your house cooler. When a cool day rolls in, turn off your a/c and try opening your windows for a change.

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New cooling technology!

Some Tampa Bay schools are experimenting with a new, cost-effective cooling technology known as thermal energy storage. Thermal energy storage systems use massive amounts of water and glycol (think 17,000 gallons) set inside giant ice tanks to cool large structures. Originally used to keep ice skating rinks frozen, thermal energy storage is now being used to keep large buildings, such as schools, at a comfortable temperature without the high costs of traditional a/c systems. Though thermal energy storage systems cost an average of $500,000 upfront, they generally pay for themselves in 6 to 10 years by saving buildings an average of $75,000 to $100,000 in energy costs each year. TECO also offers a energy rebate for thermal energy storage systems. The system works by freezing tanks of water during off-peak hours (such as overnight). During peak hours, a mixture of gycol and water travels through tubes placed inside the ice tanks. The ice keeps the mixture around 19 degrees inside the tubes while a heat exchanger introduces warmth from outside the system. Fans blow over the cooled mixture, creating a comfortable blast of cool air that is pumped into the building. This system of off-peak thermal cooling can save businesses up to 50% on their energy bills. Though it’s not practical for small businesses or homes, it’s amazing what technology can do for us to keep us cool and saving money!

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Crazy weather records

Feeling a little worn out with all of the heat and humidity in the Tampa Bay area? Baffled as to why it’s in the mid-90’s here while it’s still in the 50’s up north? Maybe this will comfort you a little: we proudly introduce to you the craziest weather records of all time (and none of them happened in Tampa, FL)! The hottest day ever recorded was on September 13, 1922 in Libya. The temperature reached a soaring 136 degrees! The hottest day ever recording in the U.S. was in Death Valley in CA on July 10, 1913 at a whopping 134 degrees. No wonder it’s called Death Valley… However, the hottest day the South Pole ever experienced was on December 27, 1978 at only 7 degrees. Makes me a little thankful for the warmth in Florida! The fastest temperature rise ever recorded was actually in South Dakota where the temperature rose an insane 49 degrees in only two minutes on January 22, 1943. Western Australia once “enjoyed” 160 consecutive days of soaring temperatures above 100 degrees from 1923 to 1924. And the winner: The planet Venus… reaching an average of 863 degrees daily!

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