Cleaning up your home for spring is an excellent way to get together with family members to make your home a more hygienic, allergy–friendly, and clean place to live. Aside from polishing the furniture, organizing closets, dusting those hard–to–reach places, your heating and cooling systems also require your attention. Below are some tips to help you prepare for the summer months. For further information, get in touch with a professional.
- Replace your batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The first step to home safety is ensuring that your safety devices are in working order and that they are there to help you if and when you need them. Batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide should be replaced every six months. Inspect them at the end of winter.
- Change your AC filter. Air filtration is an important part of your cooling system. It prevents dust, pollen, dander and other allergenic particles from entering your home. It also protects the components of your central air system by preventing the build–up of dust and other materials on motors, compressors, coils and fans. Don’t know how? Give your local air conditioning expert a call.
- Schedule a heating and cooling maintenance plan. Ensuring the comfort level of your home is often as simple as scheduling routine maintenance with a heating and cooling professional. Not only will it help you to avoid any air conditioner breakdowns during the peak heat of the summer, but it will also give you some peace of mind, knowing that your indoor air is being handled by a team of professionals.
- Wash all of your windows. This is a chore, of course, but it makes all the difference when that first warm sun hits your home. Not only will the outdoors appear to be crystal clear, but you may also be able to look closely at any parts of your home that may be leaking air. Your heating and cooling systems are only as good as your home’s ability to keep its temperature. Washing the windows will not only make your home more attractive, but it will also give you a sense of your home’s energy–efficiency.
- Dust vents and fans. If there’s a thin layer of dust on the grilles of your home ductwork, it’s probably time to do something about it. Dust not only irritates the respiratory system, it can also create problems for your heating and cooling system. If you think dust is becoming a problem for your home, call a heating and cooling professional today.
Your entire home cooling system is much more than the air conditioning unit: it includes the ductwork, electrical circuitry, and also structural elements of your house like insulation and the way the rooms are organized. But the energy efficiency of your cooling system is in large part determined by the energy efficiency of the air conditioner. Having a high–efficiency unit goes a long way to ensuring your home is cooled effectively and efficiently.
Every AC unit that is manufactured is tested and given a SEER rating by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). The acronym stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it measures the total cooling output (measured in British thermal units, or BTUs) divided by the electrical input (measured in watt–hours) during a season. The higher the rating the better the energy–efficiency. As of January 2006, the US requires that home air conditioning systems built after 2005 require a SEER rating of at least 13. An increased SEER rating often comes at a premium. Efficiency requires added mechanical complexity with larger coils and multiple compressors, the cost reflects as much.
However, replacing an older, inefficient unit may be a cost–effective option for your home. For example, if your AC unit requires frequent repairs accompanied with a low SEER rating, it may be more cost–effective over the span of the next decade or so, to invest in a newer model. In this case, the more efficient unit will pay for itself in the years to come, and you’ll have the added advantage of an often quieter and more "green" unit. The installation of units with high SEER ratings may also take advantage of utility rebates and governmental tax credits.
There are recent developments in air conditioning technology that boast very high SEER ratings. Mini ductless home units can be available with SEER ratings up to 27. They hang high on the wall or suspended from a ceiling. They offer customized zone control of your home’s cooling system and do not require ductwork.
Remember that your SEER rating, however excellent, is only as useful as your ductwork, insulation and the care with which you maintain your system. Preventive maintenance on an older system can often reduce your energy costs without a system replacement. If you think your air conditioner can do better, or if you’d like to hear more about SEER rating and how it affects your home, call a local air conditioning technician today.