Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Times are a Changing: Time to Update Your Air Conditioner

Big changes are coming to the world of air conditioning on Jan. 1, 2010. In an effort to comply with an international green treaty and slow down ozone deterioration, air conditioners across the country will be forced to comply with a new level of standards. Here are some key facts to help you stay ahead of the curve and save yourself from the heat, especially during crunch time.

These new standards in air conditioning can be attributed to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to help curb damage to the Ozone layer. It is designed to lead to some actual recovery of the Ozone layer by 2050. Initially established in 1987, it has since been amended seven times and is continually looking to eliminate substances that have defiantly been established as reasons for ozone depletion. Chlorine is one of those substances that has been clearly identified as doing significant damage and has been used since the 1970’s as a coolant in nearly all air conditioning units. This chemical is called R-22 and as of Jan. 1st 2010 will be eliminated.

R-22 will be replaced with a chlorine free coolant called R-410A that has zero ozone depletion. Begin thinking about switching your AC now as R-22 units will no longer be manufactured and that means parts and supplies will make repairs harder and more expensive. In fact, chances are the EPA will make it illegal to sell any R-22 units by the end of 2009.

Don’t be discouraged though. Energy costs have increased 50 percent in the last five years and with the economic climate the way it is, this is a great chance to save money on proper energy efficient air conditioning units. Updating your air conditioner with the proper requirements can save you up to 45 percent. Look at the SEER rating, (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating when purchasing a new unit. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the SEER rating the better the efficiency. Of course, this is entirely depending on your geographic location and many can make do with a low SEER rating where air conditioning is not as drastically needed.

Also be sure to look at rebates and tax incentives while replacing your air conditioning units. Chances are you can get a great deal and save money with a correct purchase. The recent stimulus bill has set aside money for actions like this so search the web or look at your local states Database of State and Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency for proper deals.

The last step to get the most out of your air conditioner is to make sure you obtain proper installation. A key part of upgrading your unit is to get the most out of it and improper and shoddy installation can quickly defeat this purpose. Keep it well maintained as well and you will see a significant reduction in your energy bills. Don’t wait until its 2010, start looking for new and more energy efficient cooling solutions today.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Tips For Saving Money on your Heating and Cooling Bills

During these times with extreme weather, there is a good chance that you are heavily relying on heaters and air conditioners to optimize your house temperatures. Here are some helpful tips to keep your energy bill low when using heating or cooling appliances.

Keep baseboard heaters, radiators and warm-air registers as clean as possible. Make sure they have open circulation and are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes. Constantly replace your filters for heaters and air conditioners as needed.

Use fans during the summer, in combination with your air conditioners to create a wind-chill effect. Also, try reversing the fans motor during the winter to help drive warm air back down towards the floor for improved circulation.

Install a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperature according to your schedule, especially when you are away from the house. Set the temperature as low as comfortable during the winter for a lower heating bill.

When using heaters, remember to keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day and closed at night to let the sunshine. For air conditioners, try placing them in a north-facing or shaded when as direct sunlight reduces efficiency.

Be sure to weatherize your home-caulk and weather strip any doors and windows that could be looking warm or cold air. Try placing heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators. Remember to turn off exhaust fans as needed. Seal any holes with caulk or spray foam where TV/cable wires, pipes and vents open your door.

Keep your system up to date, and add a supplementary source or replace your existing heater or cooling. Look for Energy Star products as they have been certified to reach the highest levels of energy efficiency. Replace your air conditioner if it is more the 10 years old as they are probably much less energy efficient then others.

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