Keeping Your Air Conditioning Working During Bay Area Heat Wave

Jul 29, 2021Air Conditioning, Blog

The record-setting heat in the Western United States is also affecting the Bay Area and South Bay. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 2020 was the second hottest year on record for the planet, with 2016 and 2019 rounding out the top three hottest years on record.

A 2020 report by NBC Bay Area shows that air conditioning system sales are trending up in neighborhoods that previously did not require year round cooling units. Some historical weather trends in San Jose are interesting to examine.

According to data gathered from 1985 to 2015, the four hottest months of the year in San Jose are normally June through September. The average of all daily highs for this 30-year stretch is as follows: June (78 °F), July (81 °F), August (81 °F), September (80 °F). So far in 2021, the high for June in San Jose has been 94 °F, on June 17th. The highest daily temperature in San Jose for 2020 was 105 °F on September 6th, 2020. On June 10th, 2019 the highest daily temperature in San Jose was recorded, at 100 °F.

So far in 2021, the heat is affecting the South Bay, and many homeowners are considering replacing a malfunctioning air conditioner, or adding an AC unit to keep their home cool.

Things to Consider When Shopping for a New AC System

If your HVAC system is nearing end-of-life, these are some considerations when shopping for a new central air conditioning system.

Consider the SEER of a new system

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

The SEER rating of an air conditioning unit is the cooling capacity during a given season divided by the electrical input needed to cool that air during the same period. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.

Central air conditioning units are usually scored using SEER, which only takes seasonal use into account, not year-round use.

SEER is computed by dividing the BTUs of cooling energy by the watts needed to power the unit, with an 82 °F outside temperature.

The higher the SEER, the more efficient the cooling power of the air conditioning system, but the unit may cost more. The goal should be to find the sweet spot of energy savings over the projected lifespan of the unit versus the initial cost difference.

Research Your HVAC Contractor

Before getting estimates, search the options and read the reviews on your local HVAC contractors. Those that have a track record of excellent service should be considered.

Make sure your contractor is licensed and bonded. You can look up this information on the California Contractor’s State Licensing Board (CSLB).

Also make sure that your contractor writes up the final agreement as a contract. You should also have a three day right to cancel (this is a California law).

Get the Right Sized AC Unit for Your Home

Air conditioning units are graded in tonnage. This has nothing to do with the weight of the unit, but with how much heat it can remove from the home per hour. Each “ton” is 12,000 British thermal units (BTUs). One ton of air conditioning can remove 12,000 BTUs of air per hour.

If you buy an air conditioning unit that is too small for your home, it will not be able to keep up with cooling on a hot day. If the unit is too large, it will be inefficient in energy use, as it will work harder than a properly-sized HVAC system for a given floorplan.

Ductless HVAC is Also an Option

For homes previously without a ducted central air conditioning system, ductless HVAC is perhaps the best option in the South Bay and San Jose area.

Ductless heating and cooling systems work in much the same way that central HVAC systems do, but without ducting. Sometimes known as “mini-splits”, ductless air conditioning distributes cooled air directly into rooms through mounted air handling units. In traditional central air conditioning, the cooled air is distributed via ductwork in the wall, ceiling, or floor.

In a ductless system, the compressor unit is installed outside, just like with a central AC system. The ductless HVAC system functions as a heat pump, removing heat from indoors and distributing it outside during the summer.

Keeping Cool with an Existing Air Conditioning System

There are steps you can take to beat the heat during the peak summer season in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. This period is June through September.

It is easier to get the home cool before it heats up in the middle of the day, then maintain that temperature. Run the air and keep the thermostat at a stable position, about 68 to 70 degrees.

Keeping sunlight out of the home will prevent solar heat energy from heating up the home. Make sure the blinds are closed and use curtains to keep the internal temperature of your home cool.

Avoid cooking on the stovetop, and limit excessive appliance use. These add ambient heat to the internal environment.

Use ceiling fans, box fans, and oscillating fans to move cool air throughout your home and keep the inside environment cool.

If you see any signs that your current AC system is not working properly, call a heating and cooling contractor, and they can make a service call to fix your unit. Ignoring any issues with your air conditioning system can lead to even bigger problems.

AC Repair in San Jose and the South Bay

Ventwerx HVAC a licensed and bonded air conditioning contractor in San Jose and Morgan Hill. Since 2007, our team has helped homeowners with heating and cooling issues. You can fill out a service request, or call (408) 422-2987 in San Jose or (408) 710-9595 in Morgan Hill for efficient and courteous heating and cooling service.