Making sure your AC keeps you cool all summer long and for years to come requires keeping up with routine air conditioner maintenance. Proper maintenance prevents several problems and provides an opportunity to correct minor issues because they turn into major disasters.
Why You Need Professional AC Maintenance
Your air conditioner is a complicated system consisting of filters, fins, coils, ductwork and more, all of which require a bit of TLC from time to time. Neglected systems are more likely to break down and fail to operate at peak efficiency, resulting in repair expenses and higher operating costs.
Hiring an HVAC technician for AC maintenance is the best way to ensure that your home’s cooling system is well taken care of. In addition to basic tasks like cleaning and replacing filters, an HVAC tech will service the system’s internal components to ensure that everything is working properly. They’re also well aware of several warning signs that could indicate an impending problem, and they can address these issues because they cause system failure.
Pre-Season AC Tune-Up Special
The best time to have your air conditioner serviced is before it breaks down and prior to the hottest days of summer. Since you haven’t used your AC in a few months, now is the perfect time to make sure everything is taken care of and in good working order.
To help you get the best deal on taking care of your cooling system, we’re offering our incredible pre-season AC tune-up specials!
Schedule by April 30th and get your pre-season air conditioning tune-up for just $99
Schedule by May 15th for a $119 tune-up
Schedule by May 31st and get your air conditioner tuned up for $139
We’ll cut straight to the point: No, the energy savings alone most likely won’t make purchasing the 17-SEER air conditioner over a 14-SEER worth it.
All other things being equal, a 3-ton, 17-SEER air conditioner will likely save you just $66/year in cooling costs over the same size 14-SEER air conditioner (see our calculations below). So even with the $300 federal tax credit, the 17-SEER air conditioner is unlikely to pay for the price difference over its lifespan. So why do we think you should you still consider the more expensive 17-SEER unit? Well, because…
Higher SEER often means better comfort
A higher efficiency 17-SEER air conditioner usually comes with 2-stage cooling and a variable-speed fan. These features not only improve the energy efficiency of the unit, but provide better cooling than the 14-SEER AC can provide.
You see, a standard air conditioner has only 2 modes: on and off. But a 2-stage air conditioner with a variable-speed fan can meet your cooling needs about 80% of the time with its lower setting, meaning it will run more often, but at a lower setting and without as many starts and stops.
This has 2 benefits:
Fewer hot/cold spots. The longer run times help the air in your home mix better and provides more even temperature control throughout your home.
Less humidity. Running longer helps the air conditioner remove twice as much moisture/humidity from your air. And that’s a big deal in Atlanta!
“But won’t longer run times actually mean higher cooling costs?”
Good question, but no. Like a car, an air conditioner costs less to operate when it stops and starts less often. Each time the AC starts up, it costs more because of the greater energy needed to start up.
Now, here’s how we calculated the energy savings of the 17-SEER air conditioner vs. the 14-SEER:
1. Calculate the estimated amount of energy each air conditioner will use annually using this equation:
[(Size of AC system x 12,000) / SEER] x 1500 = amount of Watt-hours used annually
So with 14-SEER and 17-SEER options, we get:
14-SEER= 3,857,000 Watts/hour (rounded to nearest thousand)
17-SEER= 3,176,000 Watts/hour (rounded to nearest thousand)
2. Subtract the 17-SEER AC’s annual energy use from the 14-SEER’s.
That’s: 3,857,000-3,176,000=699,000 Watts/hour
3. Convert step 2’s number to kWh by dividing by 1000.
4. Multiply step 3’s number by your electricity rate. In Birmgingham, the average electricity rate is around 9.4 cents/kWh.
699 x $.094= $65.71
So, for a 3-ton air conditioner in Atlanta, a 17-SEER unit can save you around $66/year when compared to a 14-SEER unit.
Every energy-saving estimation has some built-in assumptions. Here are ours:
You’re replacing both the outside unit and indoor air handler/blower. This is called a matched system and it’s the only way to get the advertised SEER ratings.
Your home doesn’t have any major duct issues. The air conditioner is only part of a system that includes your ductwork. If your current ducts are undersized or leaking, you won’t see a lot of actual savings from a more efficient AC.
The air conditioners being quoted are the correct size for your home. If the air conditioners are too large or too small for your home, you won’t get the stated efficiency of the AC units.
The air conditioners will be installed correctly. If not installed correctly, the air conditioning system will lose efficiency.
You will run your air conditioner about 1500 hours/year. This is pulled from the average for the Atlanta area given in the Department of Energy’s calculator.
Today, you have a lot of options for how you cool your home.
At Stone Cold, we believe in using only the most innovative and efficient cooling technology available.
Carrier Infinity Series Air Conditioners
Although we install and service all makes and models of air conditioners, there’s something different about a Carrier air conditioning system. Carrier delivers more than assembled pieces and parts, they deliver products that use the most innovative cooling technology available today. Carrier Infinity Series Air Conditioners represent the very latest in home cooling technology and the best in energy efficiency.
Benefits of an Infinity Series Air Conditioner
Efficiency ratings of up to 21 SEER
Different sizes to fit any home
Increased dehumidification with two-stage compressors
Extremely quiet operation (as low as 65 decibels)
ENERGY STAR qualified
Integration with other Carrier Infinity Series products for enhanced comfort control and efficiency
Control your air conditioner from anywhere with an Infinity Series Control with Remote Access
Non-ozone depleting Puron® refrigerant
Carrier Performance Series Air Conditioners
For those looking to increase their air conditioner’s energy efficiency at an affordable price, we highly recommend Carrier Performance Series Air Conditioners. With two-stage and single-stage models available, there is an option to fit any home and any budget.
Benefits of a Performance Series Air Conditioner:
Efficiency ratings of up to 18 SEER
Two-stage compressor available for increased energy efficiency and dehumidification
ENERGY STAR qualified models available
Quiet operation (quieter than most dishwashers)
Non-ozone depleting Puron® refrigerant
The Consequences of Buying a Cheaper Air Conditioning System:
John Ruskin (1819-1900), British philosopher and artist wrote, “It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s unwise to pay too little… when you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.” This holds true today, and here are some of the consequences of paying too little:
High heating and cooling bills
Shortened equipment life
General frustration and, overall, poor return on investment
Let us help you with your maintenance needs today.
Cost of common AC repairs
Replace evaporator coil: $860–$2,500
Replace compressor: $870–$2,500
Replace blower motor: $340–$820
Replace condenser fan motor: $240–$775
Replace circuit board: $230–$875
Diagnose and repair refrigerant leak: $235—$1,600
AC brands we repair
We repair all major AC brands, including:
DIY AC fixes
Try these easy fixes before calling a pro.
Is your AC not working at all?
Change the thermostat batteries. If your thermostat batteries are dead, your unit won’t run.
Check your breaker. Check to make sure your circuit breaker isn’t tripped. Sometimes all it takes is pushing the breaker back to the ON position.
Make sure your vents are open. If you’re not getting any air flow, check to make sure a supply vent (the vents that push out cool air) didn’t accidentally get closed.
Is your AC blowing warm air?
Check the thermostat switch. Check to make sure your thermostat is switched to “COOL” and not “HEAT”. (It might sound obvious, but this happens.)
Change your air filter. A dirty filter can cause a lot of AC problems. If yours is dirty, replace it with a new one.
Clean the outdoor unit. Remove any leaves, sticks or other debris from the condenser coils on your outdoor unit. If you see a thick layer of dirt on the coils, you’ll need a pro to clean them (they’re very fragile).
If you tried these fixes and your unit still isn’t working right, it’s time to call a professional.
Thinking of upgrading to a tankless water heater? Before doing so, learn the pros and cons of installing one – cost, requirements, and maintenance.
If it’s time to replace your water heater, you may be thinking of installing a tankless model in your home. To help you make the right decision about which kind to install, we’ll explain how tankless water heaters work and point out some of their advantages and disadvantages.
How Tankless Water Heaters Work
Tankless water heaters — also known as demand-type, on-demand or instantaneous water heaters — heat water directly, without the need to store water. A tankless heater has a flow sensing device that is activated whenever a hot water tap is opened. The unit then heats the water using either a gas burner or an electric element and directs the water wherever it’s needed in your home. Since there’s no tank that must be replenished, you don’t have to worry about running out of hot water. Once you close the hot water tap, the unit senses that the flow of water has stopped and shuts off the heating element.
Advantages Of Tankless Water Heaters
They are smaller than conventional storage heaters, are wall mounted and do not take up floor space. Their size can make them particularly attractive in homes where square footage is at a premium.
They can help you save on your energy costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for about 30 percent of a family’s energy bills. Using a tankless water heater can reduce these costs by up to 50 percent, for an average annual savings of $80.
They are durable and less likely to fail, causing potentially catastrophic flooding in your home. Tankless units have an average lifespan about twice that of conventional water heaters — 20 years or more.
Disadvantages Of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless units are more expensive. An electric tankless unit will cost about $500 to $700, roughly the same as a traditional tank model, while the cost of a gas tankless heater runs about $1,000 to $1,200. Beyond the initial cost, the national average for the installation of a tankless unit is slightly over $1,700. In many cases, existing piping must be extended or relocated, and for a gas unit, a safe vent must be installed to prevent carbon monoxide from accumulating inside the home. Even when taking savings in energy bills into account, it takes many homeowners about 20 years to fully recoup these expenses.
“Tankless” does not mean “instant hot water.” Contrary to popular thought, a tankless water heater does not necessarily deliver hot water to your tap any faster than a conventional water heater. In fact, a tankless unit may be slower. It takes time for the tankless unit’s heating element to first heat water before delivering it to the tap.
The flow of hot water is limited by the unit’s capacity to heat the water. Typically, hot water flows from a tankless heater at the rate of 2-5 gallons per minute, and that may not be enough for several simultaneous uses of hot water in your household. For example, taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time might stretch a tankless water heater to its limit. If you live in a multi-person household, compare tankless models, paying particular attention to the gallons per minute (GPM) flow of each model. The more people and the more simultaneous usage possibilities, the greater the GPM needs to be. One solution is to install multiple tankless units to meet the demands of a large household, but that can become very expensive.
During power outages, tankless units will not produce hot water. Unlike conventional water heaters, there is no backup hot water source during these emergency situations.
Tankless units are susceptible to failure due to hard water. Hard water is problematic for all water heaters but especially for tankless units. They should be drained entirely and their filters replaced monthly. They also need to be flushed on a regular basis. (Tank units need only be flushed every year or so.) If you don’t take these steps, hard water can destroy a tankless water heater in only about two years. Also, failure to follow these maintenance requirements can void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Tankless units are complicated. Examine the internal workings of a typical tankless unit. You can quickly see how much could potentially go wrong with all the intricate technology tankless water heaters employ.
Blackouts are nothing new, but major storms over the past two years have hammered home the importance of electrical
power. A standby generator can ensure your home remains energized for days, but these sophisticated machines also can
cost more than $20,000 installed, and some are the size of a Fiat 500. Here are six points to help you decide whether
they’re worth the investment.
1. What They Are
Standby generators offer a steadfast solution to extended outages. Unlike portable generators,
they’re installed permanently on a concrete pad in your yard and will provide uninterrupted backup for days. That’s
because they’re connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as
natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel. Smaller, air-cooled essential-circuit units (below) are slightly larger than
portable generators and can energize just a few circuits at a time. Larger, liquid-cooled whole-house systems will
do just as their name suggests—they’ll comfortably power an entire home.
2. How They Work
The brains behind the operation is an automatic transfer switch that disconnects you from your utility after detecting an interruption
in service. Once your home is safely off the grid, the switch starts up the generator before transferring its power
to the home’s electrical panel. At the heart of the system is an internal combustion engine, which is usually fueled
by the local natural gas supply. Where natural gas isn’t available, liquid propane or diesel stored in a large tank
nearby can be used.
When municipal power resumes, the switch shuts down the generator and reconnects your house to the grid. This seamless
operation makes standby generators ideal for families with small children, as well as those needing uninterrupted use of
electric-powered medical equipment. They’re also crucial for anyone running a home business.
3. Installation Drawbacks
Cities often have noise ordinances restricting the installation of generators. A machine may be
rated at 62 decibels, but that’s often measured at 25 feet. What does that sound like? Imagine a neighbor idling a
Harley—tolerable in a rural environment but unacceptable in a tight city lot. Additionally, most building codes
require generators to be at least 5 feet from a house opening and 5 feet from flammable materials, making urban
installations tricky. Fuel-tank placement is almost always restricted, especially near parking lots and schools.
4. They’re Not For Rookies
Hire a professional to assess not only your load needs (see No. 5), but also the logistics of
installing a generator in your home. If you’re planning on connecting to your local natural gas system, you’ll need
a high-pressure, high-volume line. Most generators require gas supplied at 5 to 7 inches of water-column pressure,
which isn’t available in some towns.
Installing a standby generator is no DIY project, either. It requires advanced electrical and
plumbing skills, as well as knowledge of local building codes. You’ll also need permits before you start and
inspections when you’re done. Because of these complexities, professional installations can sometimes triple the
cost of a generator.
5. They’re Big and You need one
The higher the generator’s capacity, the more circuits it can power at once. However, the size of
your generator should be determined by your needs in an emergency, temporary situation—you’re not looking to power
each and every appliance and gadget during desperate times. The chart below will give you some idea of how much
electrical capacity you’ll need, though you should consult a professional for an accurate load analysis. He or she
will calculate the combined load of the devices you intend to run simultaneously while also considering the starting
wattages of motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators and AC units.
Many homeowners choose a generator based on what they can afford, and with good reason. A quality
essential-circuit system starts at around $3000, and that’s not including installation. Then there’s the price of
fuel: A fully loaded 7-kw unit consumes around 140 cubic feet of natural gas per hour. Based on average rates
nationwide this summer, that’s $2.23 per hour. Expect at least double that with a 22-kw unit. Keep in mind
that large, whole-house systems can add significant value to a home.
6. We Maintain them for You
Like cars, standby generators run nonstop for many hours, so they have to be maintained as if they
were, well, cars. Generally, bigger units require more care.
“After 24 to 48 hours of continuous use, get it serviced,” installer Pat Porzio says. “After around
10 days, have a professional change the oil and the filter.”
Your generator will stay healthy through a lifetime of outages if you check the engine oil daily
during use, run it at no more than 75 percent of its rated capacity, replace overworked or deformed motor brushes,
and avoid starting or stopping it under load whenever possible.