5 Ways to Keep Your A/C From Working Too Hard

  1. Close your basement vents

Since cold air settles in low places, you will want to adjust your home’s vents for the summer months. Your basement will naturally be the coolest place in the house, so close your vents in this area to prevent over-cooling. Leave them half open on the first floor, and wide open on the second or third floors. This will ensure enough cooled air makes it up to the higher levels of your home, giving you an even and comfortable temperature throughout your home.

  1. Use a thin air filter in your furnace

Cooled air still utilizes the fan in your furnace to be distributed throughout your home, and since cool air doesn`t rise like warm air it has difficulty traveling through your venting. To make it easier, make sure you only use a half or 1 inch filter in your furnace for the summer. If you use a thicker air filter (high MERV value) in the heating season, simply replace with a thin one for the cooling season.girl enjoying air conditioning

  1. Leave space around your air conditioner

If your cooling system has an outdoor air condenser or heat pump, make sure to leave at least a one foot perimeter of clear space around it.  Crowding the unit with bushes, plants, or clutter will impede air intake.

  1. Get an A/C maintenance

Just like your car requires regular oil changes, air conditioners need some basic care to last long-term. Manufacturers recommend having a professional maintenance by an HVAC technician annually. At this visit the tech will check for efficiency and good function of your air conditioner, making sure there are no issues like leaky refrigerant lines, dirty or corroded materials, or failing electronics. This is your opportunity for small problems to be detected before they lead to big repairs or total system failure. It can also be required to keep some warranties valid, as well.

  1. Keep the sun out

Direct sunlight can be your biggest cause of heat gain throughout the day, and an overheated home means your air conditioner has to work harder. Make sure you have blinds or curtains on the sides of the house that get the most sun, and close them during the day to stop the sun excessively heating those rooms. You may even want to plant trees to create a sun barrier that lasts long-term. Conversely, take advantage on cool nights and open the shades. Even if a window doesn’t open, there will be some transfer of cool temperature outside through the glass. This is especially true for older homes with less sophisticated or single pane windows.

 

If you’ve tried all of these steps and your air conditioner still can’t keep up it is time to think about getting a new unit. Signs include an A/C that is constantly running on a high setting or large energy bills. Give us a call for a free home comfort consultation and quote.

5 Signs It’s Time For a New Air Conditioner

Air conditioner getting up there in age, and not performing as well as it used to? The big decision is always to keep making repairs or replace. But how do you know when it’s time?  Here are five ways to tell for sure if it’s time for a new unit.

 Not Enough Cooling Power

Do you constantly have the air blasting on high, yet you’re still not comfortable? If your air conditioner is always working hard – but hardly working – it may be time to look for another. The problem could be that your current unit is undersized for your home, or that it is running inefficiently due to old age. Either way, you are losing money as it sucks energy while producing bad results. A new, correctly sized unit will cool your home at a regular setting, as well as cycle through efficiency stages rather than run constantly.

Lennox Air Conditioner

Uneven, Inconsistent Cooling

This is part and parcel with not having enough cooling power. While it’s normal for rooms that get more sun exposure or are higher in the home to be a degree warmer than darker or lower rooms, your air conditioner should be able to provide even, cool comfort throughout the whole home. A large variance in temperature means your air conditioner isn’t strong enough.

High Energy Bills

In Ontario we are already battling high hydro costs, but if your air conditioner is running inefficiently these costs will balloon even higher. If you noticed an increase in your bills last summer, or if the cost is just above what you are comfortable spending, it may be time for a new A/C. Not only will a factory new unit run better than an old one, technology improvements have allowed newer models to consume less energy.

 Frequent/Increased Repairs

Like with any appliance or machine, frequent repairs are a bad sign. With air conditioners the most common sign that the unit is not up to par is a frequent loss of coolant. If you are having to refill your unit with coolant every summer, there is likely a leak somewhere.  These can be expensive to fix, so if your unit is over 10 years it’s probably worth investing in new equipment.

Remember – problems can be detected early by getting annual maintenance visits. They are necessary to keep your air conditioner running smoothly, and can also be required to keep warranties valid.

 Signs of Wear

If you’ve noticed any burning smells, fluids leaking from the lines, loud noises, or visible deterioration on the unit, these signs point towards a breakdown coming. Emergency replacements never happen at a good time, so be proactive and consider a replacement before you are without cooling on a scorching long weekend!

 

To get a free visit and quote on a new air conditioner from a Comfort Advisor, give us a call. Remember we have financing and renting options too, so you don’t have to put your comfort on hold.

How To Beat The Heat

Lower Humidity, Increase Comfort

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In Southern Ontario we are all too familiar with humidity at this time of year.  Did you know that humidity is the second contributing factor to your home comfort? Indoor humidity levels should stay between 30-50% for ideal comfort.  Having a high level of humidity can affect the ‘felt temperature’ by as much as 8 degrees(1).

Why is humidity bad for indoor environments?

Having high levels of indoor humidity can cause the following to happen:

  • Encourages the growth of mold, mildew and other bacteria
  • Contributes to sleep problems
  • Wood swells and doors stick
  • Stains the ceiling and can cause paint and wallpaper to peel
  • Speeds up the rust and oxidization process
  • Causes your hair to frizz – while this is not a major concern for most, for some this is a disaster!

How to deal with humidity

There are multiple ways to combat humidity and stay comfortable this summer.  The conventional route is exploring the two products that focus on maintaining optimum humidity levels:

  • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs)

Most people are familiar with humidifiers and dehumidifiers.  They have been around for quite a while and focus on adding or removing moisture in the air to maintain a healthy and comfortable environment.  The newest product lines are the HRVs and ERVs.  They are becoming the new industry standard and a requirement in new home construction.  Homes are built to be more energy efficient, but that also lends to humidity problems.  The more air-tight your home is, the less air that is exchanged and increases humidity levels.  To learn more about the differences between HRVs and ERVs check out our FAQ page here.

There are also natural ways to deal with humidity levels.  A full list of options can be found here.

Having the correct indoor humidity levels in the summer will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher without compromising comfort.  This will help save energy and keep your energy bill more cost effective.

1. http://comfortmatters.lennox.com/getting-comfortable/the-four-biggest-factors-affecting-the-comfort-of-your-home/

Tips for Changing your Filter

The much debated question about your home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is: how often should the filter be changed?

There is no one answer to this question, as there are many factors to consider.  These include:Types of Filters

  • Type of filter being used – there is a clear distinction between a 1” filter compared to a pleated MERV 16 filter that is 5” thick.
  • Type of furnace and AC – if you have a new high efficiency furnace and/or air conditioner it will help increase the lifespan of your filter in comparison to a 15+ year old system that is tired and needs all the help it can get.
  • House specific – the size of your home, where you live, how many people and pets are living in your home all factor into how long your filter will function at an optimal level.
  • Season – the filter efficiency is also dependent on the time of year and how often you run your equipment.

There are many different sources you can reference for guidelines to this question.  According to energystar.gov and Consumer Reports the average filter should be checked every month and replaced at least every three months.

Regardless of what type of filter you have, and how often you choose to change your filter, all homeowners should understand why a filter needs to be replaced.  Heating and cooling systems have a filter to remove airborne particles before they reach the blower motor and cause damage.  The filter also ensures that the air being pushed through your vents is clean and dust free.  When the filter is replaced often, it allows your furnace and air conditioner to run at optimal efficiency, and that is reflected in your monthly energy bill.

For all instructions as to how to replace the filter in your HVAC system please reference your owner’s manual, or see our FAQ post How do I change my furnace air filter?