If you are in the market for a new cooling system for your home, it pays to be familiar with SEER. SEER means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is used to measure the energy efficiency of the cooling unit in your home comfort system. To determine SEER rating, manufacturers measure the cooling a unit puts out over a typical summer season and divide it by the amount of energy the unit used during that time. The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient a cooling system is. In South Carolina, the minimum SEER required by law is 14, however, there is a split system available with up to a 33 SEER rating at the time of this blog. From 14 to 33 is a big range and it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the different options.
Cost vs. Savings: Is Spending More for Higher SEER Worth it?
One of the most frequent questions customers have is, "If a higher SEER number means greater energy efficiency, should I buy the highest SEER I can for my home?" Surprisingly, the answer is no. As the SEER goes up, so does the cost of the unit - by a large margin. Higher SEER units are also more expensive to repair and feature newer technology that, in some cases, isn't as reliable as the older technology of units with SEER ratings below 20. Also keep in mind that the SEER rating represents the maximum possible energy efficiency in optimal conditions. Similar to when you buy the latest smart phone that has up to 8 hours of battery life. Most users won't get the full 8 hours without needing to recharge because the way each individual uses the device affects the battery life. The same is true of SEER ratings - so a SEER of 18 really means *up to 18*.
While higher SEER does translate to less energy consumption and lower utility bills, the amount of savings for most average sized homes does not balance out the increased cost of the highest SEER rated systems. If your home is close to the average of 2,000 sq ft and you use your cooling system an average of 5 months of the year (we are in South Carolina, after all), a cooling system with a SEER rating of 14 or 16 provides you a sturdy and reliable unit with a comfortable reduction on your electric bill. If you choose an option with a SEER over 20, with installation, that system can cost in the ballpark of double the amount of the lower SEER system while only providing a few dollars more energy savings - during the 5 months of the year when you are actually running your air conditioning. If your home is much larger than average or you live in an area where you will be using your cooling system for more than two-thirds of the year, systems with SEER ratings of 18-20 could be worth the higher cost of the system.
Choosing a new HVAC or heat pump system with the best SEER rating for your home and specific needs doesn't have to be an overwhelming process. Carolina Comfort Systems can help! Our experts can review your current system and explore how much you can expect to save on utilities for different SEER rated systems to help you find the best value for your home.
Cor Home Automation is a new offering available for your home from your Bryant Heating and Cooling System providers at Carolina Comfort Systems. Cor technology works with Bryant's Preferred or Evolution heat pumps, gas furnaces, air conditioners and heat coil systems. Cor Home Automation gives you the ability to control your lighting, thermostat settings, security system and more from your smartphone.
Of course, Bryant is an industry leader in heating and cooling systems but for a more complete home automation package, they couldn't do it alone. For security, Cor utilizes Interlogix. With Interlogix, you can watch security footage, unlock or lock doors, and receive alerts about open windows or when the garage door is opened - all from your phone. And because your family's safety is the top priority, Cor works with Kidde smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to alert you immediately in the event of a potential fire or carbon monoxide incident.
Currently, Bryant is offering a $500 rebate toward the Cor Home Automation Smart Start Kit with the purchase of a compatible Preferred or Evolution heating and cooling system. With Cor, there are no contracts and no monthly fees and you can add-in features and options that allow you to customize the way you care for and monitor your home. Even better, the technology in Bryant's Cor Home Automation system is expandable to accommodate new technology options as they come to market. To learn more about this exciting new technology from Bryant, give us a call at Carolina Comfort Systems!
Understanding some of the most common HVAC problems is important for every homeowner. Some problems can be fixed by simply changing the air filter, while others indicate a major problem and require emergency service. To help you know when to stick it out and when to call in the pros at Carolina Comfort Systems, we've created this handy guide to some of the most common HVAC problems.
1. Blown Fuse - Fuses protect your system from overheating and burning out the motor or compressor. Similar to a surge protector, it's a safety guard that saves you from a more serious and costly breakdown. Blown fuses (and tripped breakers) don't happen without a cause, so this is a problem you want to call in professional help for.
2. Electrical Outage - Worn out connections or worn, damaged or faulty wiring can all cause an electrical outage for your HVAC system. Finding and replacing the proper connections and wires is best left to a pro.
3. Not Cooling or Not Heating - It may sound silly but this common problem often has a pretty simple fix. Before assuming the worst, check your thermostat. Programmable thermostats with battery back-ups often stop signaling to the HVAC system when the battery is low or dead. In many cases, just replacing the battery gets you back up and running.
4. Refrigerant Leak - You may suspect a refrigerant leak if you begin to notice your HVAC system is not cooling your home as efficiently as it used to, or if it struggles to maintain temperature in only moderate heat. Refrigerant leaks not only harm the environment but can cause other more serious problems with your HVAC system. Call in the professionals without delay!
5. Frozen Evaporator Coil - This is an example of a more serious problem that can result from a refrigerant leak. Low refrigerant levels are one of several possible causes of a frozen evaporator coil. Other causes include blocked air returns/intakes, and clogged air filters. Because this common problem can have a variety of causes, it's worth calling your technician.
6. Drop in Efficiency - If your HVAC system just doesn't seem to work as well as it used to and/or you notice your utility bills rising, you may have a problem causing your system to run less efficiently than it should. If you haven't had regular maintenance done for some time, it could be as simple as needing a good professional cleaning and tune-up. Condenser coils and fans in outdoor units are exposed to all kinds of weather conditions, dust, dirt and debris. Over time, these things can collect and begin to cause problems.
Being in the know about common HVAC problems helps you determine if you are dealing with a quick fix or a big deal that requires professional help. Our handy guide to some of the most common HVAC problems is a good starting reference point. However, if you have questions or are ever in doubt, our professional technicians are only a phone call away.
Extreme temperature fluctuations can take a toll on your heat pump. Cold temperatures that dip down below 40 degrees Fahrenheit make maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home a challenge for many heat pumps as they lose efficiency at lower temperatures. As the temperature drops, your heat pump runs more frequently and for longer periods, eventually triggering your emergency back up electric coils to turn on or if you have a split system, switching to furnace-generated heat. Likewise, very hot temperatures can be rough on your heat pump. While heat pumps reduce humidity better than traditional air conditioning systems, the more hot and humid it is, the harder your heat pump works to keep your home cool and comfortable. Jumping back and forth between heating and cooling means your heat pump gets a hefty workout. You can't control nature but you can make sure to keep your heat pump tuned-up to help it weather major temperature shifts.
Heat Pump Tune-Up 101
You might be wondering what a heat pump tune-up entails. Like a tune-up for your car, your heat pump tune-up checks for potential problems and maintains various components to minimize wear and tear. Here are just a few of the services included in your heat pump tune-up:
* Change air filters (you should do this also in between tune-ups).
* Inspect and clean all electrical components and connections.
* Test and recalibrate your thermostat, if necessary.
* Check refrigerant levels. Low refrigerant indicates a leak and puts you at greater risk for a system breakdown. Refrigerant leaks require urgent repair.
* Check ducts for signs of leaks that can reduce the efficiency of your system.
* Clean and inspect coils and fans, including evaporation coil and condensing coil.
* Lubricate motors, check belts for wear and adjust belt tension.
When temperatures fluctuate quickly between hot and cold extremes, many heating and cooling systems will run longer and harder to keep your home comfortable. Keeping your heat pump tuned up minimizes the effects of this temperature roller coaster on the various components of your system and helps it run as efficiently as possible. Give Carolina Comfort Systems a call today to get your heat pump tuned up and running for all types of weather!
Your HVAC System and Flooding Part III: Preventing Flood Damage
In many cases, flood events are unexpected, making prevention of flood damage unlikely or impossible. However, there are times when weather events are approaching that are likely to result in flooding where you can take some preventative measures to avoid damage to your HVAC system.
Prevention Solution #1 - Shut off power to your HVAC system, remove sensitive electrical components and move them to a safer location on higher ground or in a high place in your home. Many homeowners will not have the necessary knowledge to do this if your provider has not specifically demonstrated how to do this safely with you. Therefore, this solution may require that you have your HVAC service provider come to your home to perform this task for you.
Prevention Solution #2 - If your HVAC system is one that is not ideal for solution #1, there is another solution you can try. Securely stack several layers of sandbags completely around your HVAC system, the way you would around areas of your home or along creeks and streams. While this solution may not prevent all damage, it can help reduce the extent of the damage sustained and thus reduce repair costs.
Prevention Solution #3 - While not exactly a physical action, make sure you understand fully what your homeowner's insurance covers with regard to flood damage and your HVAC system and what it doesn't. Many homeowner's insurance policies don't include any flood coverage at all and require you to purchase flood coverage separately. Don't wait until a major weather event or flood happens to discover that you don't have the level of coverage you assumed you did. Be proactive and make sure you have the homeowner's insurance coverage you need in the event of a flood.
The old saying is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to your HVAC system, a relatively small amount of time invested in prevention can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars that can really make a difference should a flood - or any natural disaster - impact your home. Let Carolina Comfort Systems show you how.
Your HVAC System and Flooding Part II: What Repairs and Costs to Expect
If you are one of the homeowners who were fortunate enough to avoid damage to your HVAC system during the recent floods, you may be wondering what it would have cost if you had been among the thousands who needed repairs. Repair costs vary based on the type of HVAC system you have and the level of damage sustained.
Providing there are no punctures or other structural damage, the most common repair required after a flood incident will be electrical and often involves replacing the circuit board in the unit. Depending on the brand of your HVAC system and availability of the necessary part or parts, the average cost of replacing a circuit board will be between $150.00 to $500.00. Quotes can vary widely between providers so it pays to get quotes from at least three to four providers if you don't have a trusted provider already.
If you have ductwork that runs underneath your home, this is another cost you may have to contend with. If water has gotten into your duct system, you may have moisture and mold issues springing up. Because the length, access, and complexity of ductwork systems can vary so much, this repair cost is more difficult to estimate. Here again, it pays to get quotes from several reputable providers. Mold issues will get worse the longer they are left alone so this is one repair you definitely cannot afford to hesitate on.
If your HVAC system has sustained major structural damages like punctures or damage from debris, your trusted HVAC provider is the best equipped to assess the damages and determine if repairs are possible or if the system will need to be replaced. The best bet is to prevent the damage in the first place when possible. Carolina Comfort Systems can help you do that with a maintenance agreement. Give us a call today for details.
Your HVAC System and Flooding: What HVAC Systems and Components Can Survive a Flood?
With the recent flooding across the Grand Strand, many homeowners have found themselves facing some unexpected repairs to their HVAC system. There are choices you can make with regards to your HVAC system that can make a big difference should another flood occur. The most important thing to consider is the location of the electrical component closest to the ground. The lower the electrical component in your system, the less water it will take to cause major problems. Here are a few more handy tips on what can and can't survive a flood.
- Outdoor Air Conditioner Units - Most outdoor A/C units can withstand an average if 12-16 inches of flood water without major damage. The electrical components tend to be closer to the top of the unit instead of the bottom and most of the parts are made of metals like steel or copper that have been specially treated to withstand various types of weather.
- Heat Pump Condensing Units - Similar to outdoor A/C Units, heat pump condensing units are usually designed with outdoor weather in mind. Physical parts use materials and metals treated to endure many types of weather conditions. These units also tend to house the electrical components in the upper half of the unit, keeping it safe from damage in flood conditions.
- Gas Package Units - Gas package units or gas packs are units that combine your gas heat and electric air conditioner into one single unit, located outside the home or on the rooftop. If you choose a gas pack unit, location is crucial to surviving a flood event. Elevated or rooftop location of these units is strongly recommended. In gas pack units, the heat exchange and gas burners tend to be very close to the ground, making them extremely vulnerable to damage in a flood event.
While the type of flooding we've experienced recently in South Carolina was categorized as a once in a thousand years event, we do live in a sub-tropical and hurricane-prone region. Water is a fact of life here in the Grand Strand. When you add climate change into the equation, we can only guess how that will impact our weather in the years to come. Understanding what types of HVAC systems can and cannot survive floods can save you headaches and money in future events. If you have questions about your HVAC system, call Carolina Comfort Systems today, where your satisfaction is our guarantee!
Along the Grand Strand we’re used to moderate temperatures most of the year. This winter we’ve been dealing with unusually cold temperatures for a sustained time period. This, of course, will impact your heating costs. Santee Cooper has published Winter Conservation Tips to help it’s customers save energy and money without sacrificing comfort.
1. Keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees or as low as is comfortable for you. Wearing an extra
layer of clothes such as a sweatshirt, sweater or warm socks/slippers can help your comfort level
with a lower temperature.
2. In the summertime many of us close blinds and curtains to combat the heat from the sun. In the
winter do the opposite! Take advantage of the sun’s heat during the day and close them at night
to keep the chill out.
3. If you have ceiling fans remember to change the direction of the rotation. In the summer they
should rotate counter clockwise to pull heat up. In the winter change the blade rotation to
clockwise – we all know heat rises; this will push down the heat near your ceilings and better
circulate it throughout your home.
4. Inspect your home, especially around windows and doors for any air leaks. Adding caulk or
weather stripping should alleviate this.
5. Remember to replace your air filter regularly! Many need to be changed out monthly.
6. Make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees and take shorter showers.
7. Check furniture placement to insure no vents are being blocked. This can interfere with the
efficient running of your HVAC system.
Try employing these simple and easy tips in your home to conserve energy and lower monthly heating bills.
Bryant's Variable Speed Heat Pump Technology Saves You Money! In this day and age we are all searching for ways to save both energy and money in our homes. There are a multitude of products in the market that claim to do just that and some, such as Bryant’s Variable Speed Heat Pump Technology, delivers. Traditionally, most heating and cooling systems fans work at one speed - full. This means whether you are home or not your system operates at the same level, wasting energy and money. Bryant offers variable speed technology which will quietly ramp up to reach the comfort settings you’ve designated for your home. Due to its slower speeds the variable heat pump will generally be quieter than other systems as well. The slower speeds also allow for maximizing energy dollars due to its ability to create a more even interior temperature and better humidity control. This technology is available in a variety of Bryant products including their Evolution® High-Efficiency Gas Furnace, Evolution® Extreme Heat Pump. Evolution Fan Coils and Preferred™ Geothermal Heat Pump. Carolina Comfort Systems is a certified dealer of Bryant products, call us with any questions about the Bryant Variable Speed Heat Pump Technology and how it can help you lower your energy bills. For HVAC Replacement and Heat Pump Repair in Conway and Myrtle Beach, call on Carolina Comfort Systems!
Did you know that according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that over 24,000 house fires and nearly $100 Million in property damage annually are related to faulty clothes dryer vent installation? These are high numbers for something that is relatively easy to prevent. Some of the problems are cause by builders or installers using improper materials to vent, very often the fire is caused by lint build up in the ducts. To avoid this make sure you clean your lint trap after each use and the ducts are professionally cleaned periodically.
Dryer vents should only terminate outside the home and have a proper damper exterior cover to help prevent water, birds, insects, etc. from entering the duct. Venting inside (to a garage or basement) will cause moisture build up. Some people use a heat diverter in colder months which, while keeping warm air inside the home also can cause moisture build up, mold and air quality issues and we do not recommend this.
The material used should be a rigid or corrugated semi rigid metal duct. If you have plastic or foil, accordion type ducting it should be replaced -this will speed up drying and cut down on lint trapped inside the vent. The rigid or corrugated semi rigid metal duct material also provides maximum air flow
What can you do?
• Make sure to check the lint filter before and after each load of clothing
• Keep the area around the dryer clean and unobstructed.
• Have ducts and vents professionally cleaned periodically
• Have a qualified professional clean the dryer chassis periodically to minimize lint accumulation
Following these simple steps will minimize safety issues and prolong the life of your dryer.