How to Make your Cooling System More Efficient this Summer

While you can’t do anything about the heat outside, you can achieve lower air conditioning bills by preparing your cooling system and your home for hot weather. A well-maintained cooling system and a house that resists heat gain will put you on the fast track toward summer energy savings.

Prioritize the Cooling System

Getting your HVAC system into top cooling condition won’t take long. The licensed professionals from TemperaturePro Columbus will go through it carefully, cleaning and adjusting the components, testing the electronics, and checking the refrigerant pressure. Each of these elements of a tune-up immediately improves the efficiency of the system.

Beyond cutting your energy bills, a clean system will:
  • Run dependably. All air conditioners use an evaporator coil that houses the refrigerant used to extract the heat. A dirty coil won’t be able to absorb as much heat because the dust insulates it. The coil may start to freeze over, which stops cooling altogether and contributes to compressor failure.
  • Sometimes mold and biofilms grow on evaporator coils, and besides slowing heat removal, its presence can be a health hazard.
  • Run safely. Whenever the electrical contacts and components are overly dirty, they won’t conduct electricity as quickly. Heat builds on the parts, sometimes to the point where they or the wiring starts a fire. An HVAC pro will remove the dust and oxidation and apply nonconductive lubricants to protect these parts.
  • Run efficiently. Improper refrigerant levels aren’t uncommon in cooling systems. A low level may cause the evaporator coil to freeze over and it will drive up energy costs. The technician will look for leaks in the refrigerant lines before adding more to bring the level within the range the manufacturer requires.
  • Run clean. Undetected ductwork leaks can drive up energy costs in proportion to their size. Uncomfortable rooms or dust that collects near the registers often indicate problems with the ducts leading to that room. Unless they’re fixed, leaking ducts will continue to drive up energy costs and degrade indoor air quality.
Homeowner Maintenance Chores

Make it a point to check the air filter throughout the cooling season. A clean filter promotes energy efficiency and protects the parts inside the air handler. Before selecting a new filter, check your owner’s manual to learn the maximum density you can use with your system.

Higher quality filters will trap more airborne particulates, but they could slow the air flowing through the air handler more than the manufacturer recommends. Check with your owner’s manual or your HVAC contractor before upgrading to a better filter.

It’s important to keep the outdoor condenser clean throughout the summer. It houses the condensing coil that exhausts the heat the refrigerant picks up inside your home. When the coil is clean, the heat dissipates more quickly. You may need to gently hose it off to loosen the dust. Pointing the lawn mower away from the condenser prevents grass clippings from covering the coil that also retard cooling.

It’s also important to keep vegetation away from the condenser and other objects that could slow the airflow through the coil. The condenser has a large fan that pulls air over the coil in order to cool it faster. When the airflow is blocked, cooling slows down.

Lower the Load

Besides the weather, the characteristics of your home that make your HVAC system run more often and longer are called its cooling load. Fortunately, you can lower the cooling load by identifying where your home has weaknesses in its shell that contribute to air leaks and heat gain.

Step 1: Get an Energy Audit

Licensed HVAC contractors and energy auditors can show you how energy efficient your home is and where to improve it. They use tools to find exactly where your home is losing energy.

The blower door test is the centerpiece of an energy audit, along with thermographic imaging. Blower doors use large fans surrounded by an adjustable metal frame that fits inside exterior door frames.

The auditing team gets your home ready by closing all the windows and doors and blocking off fireplaces and furnaces. When ready, they turn the fan on and as it pulls the air from your home, the auditors watch the pressure gauges closely to see how fast the pressure falls.

Homes that lose pressure quickly have few air leaks because the home’s exterior walls are tightly sealed. A building that doesn’t lose much pressure has leaks in its envelope, including the walls, doors, windows, foundation and attic.

As the auditors run the blower door fan, they use thermographic devices to pinpoint the leakage. Variances in temperatures show up as different colors, and if the temperatures are the same indoors and out, the auditing team may ask you to use your HVAC system to either cool or heat your home so that the incoming air temperature shows a stronger contrast with the indoor air.

The thermographic scan will also show you where your home needs more insulation, another quick and affordable effective way to cut cooling costs. The scan will also show the amount of heat entering your home through the windows, which occurs through air leaks, and as heat transfer through the glass and the frames.

Step 2: Adding Insulation

Since heat is always moving to colder temperatures, it’s moving inside your home in the summer and leaving it in the winter, primarily through the attic. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that most homes have from 16 to 20 inches in the attic to slow this heat movement.

The most common types of insulation are fiberglass batts and loose cellulose. Both types have similar insulating values and work well when there’s adequate room. Rigid foam board and sprayed foam insulating products, used primarily in smaller spaces, provide better protection against heat transfer, but they also cost more.

While adding more insulation can be a do-it-yourself project, it does require some knowledge and skill to install. Challenges include:

  • Working in an attic can be difficult and uncomfortable.
  • Protective clothing, eyewear and breathing apparatus should be used.
  • Care needs to be taken to avoid leaving gaps in the insulation that will conduct heat.

Using a contractor who specializes in adding insulation may not be an expensive project. They have access to wholesale pricing that homeowners don’t, as well as the equipment to do an effective job.

Step 3: Seal Air Leaks

Most air leaks are fairly easy to seal with caulk, expanding foam and weatherstripping. When buying the materials, read the labels carefully. Caulk high in silicon can be hard to remove once it cures. Some expanding foam products have a specific use around wiring, flues, or chimneys. If you’re not comfortable sealing around electrical fixtures, especially recessed lights or flues, ask a contractor for help.

In Summary

Lowering cooling bills is a two-step process whose most important element depends heavily on the maintenance you do and the work your HVAC pro provides. The second way you can achieve lower energy bills is to cut the demand for air conditioning by lowering its cooling load. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation are projects that will pay for themselves every day of the year. So contact TemperaturePro Columbus today to help lower your cooling bills!

Special Olympics

Our family has been involved in Special Olympics for many years, both as volunteers and as cheerleaders of 1 of our daughters.  We have experienced joy, pride, and many blessings through Special Olympics.  One of our children, Gracie, started competing by throwing a ping pong ball in the track competition and has progressed to being a star at the softball throw!  She also started out running the 15-yard dash and recently won the 40-yard dash at her competition.  Grace also competes in the basketball skills program and hopes to be able to play on a Special Olympics team next year.  Special Olympics is a place where Gracie shines and all attention is on her.  This is a place where her siblings are cheering her on instead of her waiting on the sidelines for them.  I have watched many, many athletic events, but the atmosphere at any Special Olympics event is difficult to describe.  It is, simply put, amazing and emotional. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Cash Drop held on September 30.  I was proud to be one of the many volunteers standing at the intersection of Bethel Rd and Sawmill Rd asking each driver to donate anything they could to Special Olympics.  Many, many people emptied their change trays into our buckets and others donated $20 or more.  My favorite part of the whole day was hearing people quickly tell me about their reason to support Special Olympics.  Everyone has a story, everyone has a reason to care.  Columbus proved that they supported Special Olympics because $28,962 was collected at intersections all over Columbus.  I am lucky to have been part of that day.  I extend a HUGE thank you to my friends and the TemperaturePro Columbus team who drove by, donated money and cheered on the volunteers.  Our entire team will be at that intersection next year, we just can’t wait!

Senior Living Festival 2017

Last week we had the pleasure of attending the Senior Living Festival at the Hollywood Casino.  What a great opportunity to meet some of our most seasoned and capable seniors.  At last count, more than 2400 people came to enjoy seminars on retirement living, Medicare options, and effective products/companies for this honored population.  We were able to speak with many of those present.  I enjoyed hearing some of their personal stories but also educating them on what TemperaturePro Columbus might be able to do to assist in their healthy living.  We spoke with many people that are preparing for their retirement, those who are actively caring for a senior and some just simply wanted to learn more about some community options. 

We are proud to support our senior population.  We were happy to discuss air cleaners, humidifiers, preventative maintenance or simply the best slot machine at the casino.  Our entire team enjoys going into the community and getting to know people.  It was a great day for all involved.

Huntington’s Disease Society of America | Celebration of Hope 2017

Those who have met me are aware that I am a huge supporter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.  I have been involved at every level of this fantastic charity: locally, regionally and nationally.  This charity speaks to my heart and often draws strangers in once they hear the story of a family impacted by Huntington’s Disease. 

We recently attended one of their biggest charity events and had a great time.  We were thrilled to be able to support a meaningful charity, see old friends and thank others who continue to donate time and money to this worthy and highly rated group.  The event was held at King Avenue Five with great service, food, and beverages.  We highly recommend King Avenue 5 for another night of food and enjoyment.  All of those in attendance laughed and enjoyed the comedy of Dino and Friends from Sunny 95! 

These events take great effort with planning.  Wendy Vaughan and her entire planning team deserve the biggest “high 5” for their impressive and unrelenting efforts.  The Silent Auction was varied and interesting, we had new and old friends attend this event and we were entertained by some well known Columbus celebrities.  The Nash family and the entire team of TemperaturePro Columbus supports HDSA and anyone touched by HD.