Frequently Asked Questions: Cooling
What is a programmable thermostat?
A programmable thermostat is a thermostat that can be personalized to the specific needs of your household to ensure your comfort while cutting back on wasted energy. By setting your programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature when you and your family leave and return, you can save money on your energy bill and return to a comfortable home.
Will I actually save money with a programmable thermostat?
If set up properly for maximum efficiency, a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs. Getting familiar with setbacks and setups that will use your heating and cooling system efficiently greatly increases your savings. Visit energy.gov for an in depth guide on how to get the most out of your programmable thermostat.
What kind of programmable thermostat should I get to replace my thermostat?
The first thing to consider is whether or not the programmable thermostat in question is compatible with your heating and cooling system. Different systems have different compatible models. Once your model is found, you need to decide what scheduling options you will require. There are 3 distinct scheduling options in a programmable thermostat:
- 5+2-day model: The least flexible model, it gives you the option to set 2 temperature schedules. Typically one is used for weekends and one for weekdays.
- 5-1-1-day model: More flexible than the latter, you have the option to differentiate weekdays, Saturday and Sunday to your personal needs.
- 7-day model: The most flexible model, it gives you the option to set a different temperature schedule for each day of the week.
Why is there a puddle of water around my furnace when the A/C is running?
Your air conditioner and furnace share the same blower and when your air conditioner runs, the inside unit creates condensation. The condensation can cause a pool around your furnace if it is not draining properly through the drain line. There are a couple reasons why your drain line isn’t working properly. Either the line is blocked with mold or algae, or there is a hole in your drain pan. This problem should not be ignored and you should have it checked by a professional because it can result in water damage to your home and can lead to toxic mold growth.
What makes a refrigerant charge so expensive?
If you are spending a lot on a refrigerant charge, it’s probably because your air conditioner uses a refrigerant called R-22. Since R-22 contains ozone depleting chemicals, the EPA is phasing it out. As a result there is less R-22 to fill the high demand, which causes the price to rise.
When is it time to get a new air conditioner?
If you think it may be time to get a new air conditioner, there are 3 things to consider:
- Has your air conditioner reached the end of it’s lifespan? The average air conditioner lasts 15 years.
- Does your air conditioner seem to be running inefficiently? If it is taking longer to cool your home and your energy bills are running higher than previous years, it may be time to replace it.
- Have you been frequently spending money to repair it? If your air conditioner is requiring expensive repairs every year then you will want to start looking for a new one. It will likely be cheaper in the long run to replace it than to continue repairing the old one.
Will a ceiling fan significantly help my air conditioner cool my home?
In short, no. Ceiling fans won’t actually effect the ambient temperature in your home, but they will make it feel cooler due to the wind chill effect. Your ceiling fans will however allow you to set your thermostat 4 degrees higher without feeling uncomfortable, which will help lower your energy costs.
How do I find an energy efficient air conditioner to lower my energy costs?
You want an air conditioner with a high SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio (S.E.E.R.). This is a rating that tells you how much energy the air conditioner needs to provide a specific cooling output. The minimum SEER rating for air conditioners is 13, and every point over that is a clear indication of how energy efficient a certain unit is.
Do I still need my air conditioner and furnace if i get a heat pump?
Believe it or not, a heat pump will replace both your air conditioner and furnace. It is an air conditioner that can be used in reverse to heat your home in the summer months. A heat pump is much more energy efficient than a furnace, so it is a cost effective option for heating and cooling.
What can cause an air conditioner to blow hot air?
An air conditioner can start to blow hot air for a variety of reasons, but the most common are:
- Low refrigerant
- Dirty evaporator coils
- Dirty air filter
Why is it always warmer upstairs than downstairs and how can I even it out?
Since heat rises, most multi level homes have this problem. A properly balanced duct design can help minimize the problem, but it could also be caused by an incorrectly sized cooling system. For more specific help, a professional HVAC contractor should inspect your home to diagnose the problem.
Does my attic need more insulation?
The recommended amount is 10-14 inches of insulation spread evenly throughout your attic. If the insulation is even or below the attic floor joists, you need more.
Why are energy costs so high in the summer?
This is a very common question that isn’t easy to answer without knowing more about your home. However these are some of the most common reasons:
- You don’t have enough insulation in your attic
- Your cooling system is old and inefficient.
- Your ducts are leaking
- Your home is old, and your seals are bad.
- You are running an air conditioning unit that is not the correct size for your home