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.
Whether you have a standard air conditioner, heat pump or evaporative cooler, getting ready for summer and warmer temperatures should include professional maintenance and cleaning of your cooling system. Keeping your system well-maintained ensures it runs as efficiently as possible--so you stay cool while saving money on your utility bill. Regular maintenance also helps detect small problems before they become serious headaches (and expensive repairs) later on. The best way to make sure your home's cooling system is always hot weather ready? Consider a Comfort Star Protection Plan from Carolina Comfort Systems!
No matter which plan you choose, having one of our service and protection plans keeps you on a regular maintenance schedule and offers several other benefits too.
* Your home comfort system is professionally cleaned and inspected twice per year. No need to stress over remembering when your last service was! We'll keep track and make sure your system gets the regular maintenance needed to keep it running efficiently.
* Regular maintenance increases the lifespan of your HVAC system by keeping everything functioning as it should and reducing wear and tear.
* Regular inspections find and prevent many major issues before they occur. This prevents unnecessary stress on other components of your home comfort system and helps avoid major breakdowns.
* You save money month after month on utility costs. Regular system maintenance ensures the most energy-efficient operating conditions so you need less energy to cool your home. Using less energy means lower electricity bills in your mailbox.
* Our Comfort Star Protection Plan clients enjoy "Priority Customer" service. If you should happen to experience a problem or breakdown with your home comfort system, we go the extra mile to get you back up and running as fast as possible.
The hot summer weather is coming quick. Our Comfort Star Protection Plans are designed to help you beat the heat and stay comfortable all season (and all year) long! Beat the heat! Call Carolina Comfort Systems today!
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!
January is a great time to have your HVAC system cleaned and inspected. Using the new year as a reminder to schedule this vital service keeps you on track with a regular maintenance schedule. Your annual HVAC cleaning and inspection appointment is similar to a tune-up for your car. It keeps everything working properly and helps avoid unexpected break-downs. Your annual HVAC appointment is a little more complex than merely cleaning up some dusty spots. Here are just a few of the things your technician does to keep your system running smoothly.
- Clean out accumulated dirt, dust and debris from all major components, including the burner assembly and air conditioner evaporation coils.
- Check and replace filters.
- Clear out drains for condensation to flow properly away from the unit.
- Clean the blower/ fan, lubricate moving parts, inspect fan belts for wear and tear and ensure the system is generating proper airflow.
- Ensure all electrical connections are secure, finding and replacing loose wiring or worn out electrical connections.
- Inspect flue for debris and ensure outgoing ductwork is clear of any blockages. Likewise, inspect air intake to ensure air is flowing into the system the way it should. Blockage of outgoing airflow can cause dangerous particles or gases to build up inside your home.
- Test and calibrate thermostat for accurate temperature readings and control.
- Test for gas leaks in and around your furnace to keep your family safe from dangers like carbon monoxide poisoning. Note: This does not replace the necessity of having properly working CO2 detectors in your home!
- Check for wear and tear on all components to help find potential problems before they become emergency repairs.
Regular service and maintenance keeps your HVAC system working at optimum efficiency, not only saving energy and money, but also keeping your family as safe as possible. Some HVAC system manufacturers recommend having this service performed twice per year, particularly in certain climates such as very humid climates. Your HVAC expert at Carolina Comfort Systems can discuss your manufacturer's recommendations with you to ensure your maintenance schedule complies with any warranty requirements.
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!
Carolina Comfort Systems is always looking for ways to enhance our customers experience when using our service. To that end we now offer online bill pay or financing through the new Just Push Pay system. You can access from your mobile device or computer and if financing get an answer in minutes. To take advantage of this new pay option from Carolina Comfort Systems please follow the links below
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.
Can you remember back in the ‘old’ days, when we had to actually go over to a heater or cooling unit and push a button to turn it on and turn a dial to control the temperatures? Okay so it wasn’t really that long ago – but then came a technology breakthrough – the remote control! What was better then sitting on the couch and raising or lowering the system output? Then energy saving technology came into the mix and we could set a thermostat and the system monitored itself to cycle down when that indoor temperature was reached, and to turn on when it read it was over the desired temperature. Could it ever get better than this?
I bet you didn’t think so, but now, thanks to the Bryant Evolution® system your life can get even more comfortable. The brain behind it all is the Evolution Connex ™ control. When installed as part of the Evolution system it can monitor temperature, humidity, air quality, fan speeds, ventilation and zoning! You can program a schedule to fit your lifestyle and once you’ve programmed the settings the Connex system actively manages your home’s temperatures. The control monitors the outdoor temperatures, so instead of ramping up to meet your settings, it can adjust the time of levels to save you the most money. One of the options with this system is the ability to adjust your settings whether you are home or away by installing a Wi-Fi enabled Connex control. There is even a Touch – n – Go feature which allows you to change from ‘sleep’ or ‘away’ settings to ‘wake’ or home with ease. Carolina Comfort Systems is an authorized dealer for Bryant, and this is just another product in our impressive line that is designed to simplify your life, conserve energy and save you money on monthly bills. Call us to discuss this or our line of Bryant products.