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The Quick and Easy Guide to Window Air Conditioners

A hot day in a building without central air conditioning can get unbearable. Fans don’t help much, and most solutions seem very complicated and even more expensive, but neither you nor your wallet really need to suffer under the relentless summer heat.

Window air conditioners let you cool specific rooms, rather than your whole house, apartment or business space. It takes less energy to cool only the rooms that need cooling, than running a central air conditioner unit. This is an easy way to reduce your electricity usage.

A window air conditioner is the perfect choice if you want to cool a specific room, or a few specific rooms, and spend less on cooling costs. With adjustable thermostats, timers, and in some cases even Smartphone controls, these cooling units help you get the temperature you want. When you want it! Without wasting energy to keep the rooms cooled at all times.

Find out if a window air conditioner unit is the right choice for you by looking at these pros and cons.

Window AC Advantages

  • The popularity of window AC makes them easy to find and competition keeps the prices down
  • Relatively quiet and efficient
  • Drains water automatically
  • Fits in windows and wall holes
  • Rooms up to 300 square feet can be cooled even with small units. Larger ones work for rooms up to 650 square feet
  • With clever placement, it’s possible to cool more than one room

Window AC Disadvantages

  • The unit blocks an entire window when installed
  • Water dripping from the unit outside the window can land in inconvenient places (for example, on people)
  • Some windows are the wrong size for these units or otherwise can’t support them
  • Can be difficult to remove once installed
  • The included panels may let hot air through, reducing the unit’s efficiency.

Choosing the Right Window Air Conditioner

Finding the right window air conditioner for your needs is crucial and can make a big difference in both energy cost and comfort. Here are the key factors to look for.

Getting the size right is important. Units that are too small will have a hard time keeping the temperature down. Overly big ones, on the other hand, will be inefficient. Not only is it wasteful, the rapid cooling also means higher humidity, making the room feel moist and “clammy.”

Air conditioners typically need about 20 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per square foot. The typical cooling capacity of window air conditioners ranges between 5,000 and 14,000 BTUs per hour. Note that the size and weight of the unit increase with the cooling capacity.

Air conditioner energy efficiency is measured as EER (energy efficiency ratio). EER measures the ratio of cooling capacity (in BTu per hour) to power input (in watts). A higher EER rating means a more efficient air conditioner. An additional 1.0 of EER means 10% more efficiency, and lower operating costs. You can find information about a unit’s EER on the EnergyGuide label of the air conditioner.

Newer air conditioners cost less to operate due to higher energy standards in recent years. An EER of at least 12 is recommended. Keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR label, which marks products that meet the strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Remember, higher EER means lower operating costs. On top of this, newer units conserve energy by shutting down when the room reaches the right temperature and starting again when it gets warmer, while older types keep the fan running and using electricity.

[Window air conditioner energy saving tips]

The unit must also fit your window. Carefully measure the inside dimensions, and keep in mind that the majority of window air conditioners are built for double-hung windows with a sash that can be raised or lowered.

Make sure that your electrical system meets the air conditioner’s requirements. Smaller units that draw less than 7.5 amperes work fine on any household electrical circuit, granted no other major appliances share the circuit. Larger units require their own 115v circuit, and the biggest ones need a dedicated 230v circuit.

Other features to Consider

  • A programmable timer, to turn the unit on when it’s needed and off when it’s not, thus conserving energy and money.
  • Dehumidification capabilities differ between different models. You can find a rating, in pints and ounces per hour, of dehumidification.
  • Mechanical controls to let you adjust cooling level and fan speed.
  • Electronic controls let you set a target temperature for the unit to maintain.
  • An electronic ionizer makes the air conditioner better at reducing dust, pollen, and other air impurities.
  • A remote control with a temperature sensor lets you set the air conditioner to activate when the temperature around the remote rises above the one you’ve specified.
  • Smartphone control allows you to turn the unit on or off and adjust settings from afar, so you can always come home to a cool room without running your air conditioner at all times. This is perfect if your schedule is irregular.
  • A removable filter makes it easy to keep the unit clean and at optimal capacity.
  • Filter alerts notify you when it’s time to clean the filter. Dirty filters make the unit use more energy for lesser results and may shorten its lifespan.
  • With an extra-long cord, it’s easier to reach a suitable power outlet.
  • Functions like “Turbo” and “Power thrust” help to push the cool air farther into long, narrow rooms.

Room Examples and Recommendations

Bedroom (100 – 300 square feet)
For a small or medium size bedroom, you will need a unit with a capacity between 5,000 and 6,500 BTu/hr, and a low noise rating. Some units feature a sleep setting, which reduces noise and energy usage by running the fan less frequently to avoid excess cooling when you sleep.

Living Room (350 – 650 square feet)
A living room calls for a larger air conditioner. There’s more open space and it takes more to cool rooms that often contain more than two people. An extra 600 BTu/hr per additional person is recommended. This means you’ll want a capacity of around 9,800 to 12,500 Btu/hr.

Kitchen (150-250 square feet)
Kitchens can vary a lot in size and shape, but they tend to need quite strong units. An extra 4,000 BTu is recommended for a unit used in a kitchen, to compensate for the heat generated by the stove and other hot appliances. You’ll want a unit with a capacity in the range of 7000 to 9000 BTu/hr.

If you’re confused about the size of your room or your cooling needs, take a look at this cheat sheet and calculator for window AC capacity needs.

Energy Efficiency of Room Air Conditioners

You can increase efficiency and comfort, and reduce energy costs, by ensuring optimal conditions for the air conditioner.

With proper placement and regular maintenance, the unit will perform better. Follow these directions to get the most out of your air conditioner.

  • A window in the shade is optimal, increasing efficiency by up to 20% compared to a sunny window. Windows facing north get the most shade.
  • The unit must be level to ensure proper function.
  • Make sure that nothing blocks the unit’s airflow.
  • High fan speeds are generally best, but on really humid days the slower settings are better for keeping humidity down.
  • Keep lamps, TVs, and computers away from your air conditioner. It will run longer than necessary if its thermostat senses heat from hot electronics.
  • Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air through your home without greatly increasing electricity use.
  • Get help when installing. Window air conditioners are quite heavy.
  • Basic maintenance helps retain maximum efficiency its lifespan. Here’s how to do it.
  • Optimal efficiency relies on proper air sealing and insulation. Energy Star recommends the following adjustments.

Following these tips and guidelines will help you find the perfect window air conditioner for your needs and keep your cool without paying too much. To learn more about cooling options in your home, check our favorite small portable ACs and quietest portable ACs.

What You Need to Know about the War on Solar

With everything happening in the news lately, you might hear of the “war on solar” and think it’s just another hyped up headline, but solar power being pushed out by big utility companies is anything but hype.

2016 was the hottest year on record according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and 2017 has seen heat waves, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires that have caused mass devastation worldwide.

It is a well-known fact that if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked, things will only get worse. And scientists, policymakers, and activists are striving to mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change as quickly as possible.

The good news is we are beginning to see a surge  of alternatives, a push for renewables, and more scientific studies looking at local and global solutions to global warming.

In Florida and Nevada, however, those efforts were severely dampened when solar power, a huge opportunity for homeowners in those areas and also a boon to the environment, was all but edged out by utility companies and politicians.

One of the major problems hindering “Big Solar” from really taking off is IOUs or Investor-Owned Utility companies. IOUs want to keep solar from taking off for obvious reasons, it would deeply impact their earnings, and in turn, their investors would also lose big.

An article by Rolling Stone put it best while explaining the dangerous monopoly that has become utility companies.

“But in recent years, the nation’s IOUs have been abusing their monopoly powers to profit from massive infrastructure projects….For investors, the formula is simple: More infrastructure equals more profit,” writes Tim Dickinson in “The Koch Brothers’ Dirty War on Solar Power.”

Solar power has the potential to majorly disrupt utilities because homes won’t have to depend on the grid as much, and more solar means fewer power plants.

But before we cover those big changes, let’s discuss net metering laws.

Currently, 41 states have net metering according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Instituted as a way to credit people back who took advantage of renewable energies for any power they would “feed” back into the grid, net metering laws were a win-win for all but the utility companies.

The financial power of IOUs is seemingly unmatched, which is why so many attempts to bring solar power to its full potential are effectively edged out, through well-financed campaigns, lobbyists, and political figures, funded in some way by the gas and coal industries.

Unfortunately, money seems to be at the root any efforts to block solar. Dickinson in his article talks about how Florida could massively benefit from solar power (it is called the Sunshine State for a reason), but the state is a money making machine for IOUs.

What’s worse, Florida forbids anyone but the power companies to buy and sell electricity. If you want to try and get solar power in Florida, you need to be able to pay the upfront cost, and that can be expensive.

Companies and groups like the Edison Electric Institute and the utility industry’s trade association are doing the best they can to keep solar off the table.

Florida is just one state where solar is struggling, another state that’s been making headlines regarding its floundering solar companies is Nevada.

Solar power used to be huge in Nevada, according to NPR, and business was booming.

However, The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) removed incentives for homeowners who wanted to install solar power leaving once-thriving solar companies like Robco Electric in Las Vegas and SolarCity to lay off workers and in some cases leave the state entirely.

The PUC decision is in direct response to net metering, feeling that it is unfair for people to profit off of power the utility grids are not providing.

All’s not lost though for solar customers in Nevada as big solar pushed back, and in June of this year, Governor Brian Sandoval proposed plans for a bill that would bring back net metering.

The war on solar has attracted some big names who are taking a stand, for example Cecily Strong from SNL was featured on National Geographic’s Years of  Living Dangerously project.

The comedian and actress went to Nevada herself for a video spotlight feature and learned more about solar companies and the struggle to keep the lights on.

Strong sat down with Bryan Miller, who is the Vice President of SunRun, a solar company in Nevada for an interview in the National Geographic clip.

According to Miller, “rooftop solar is the first form of competition that utilities have ever faced” and if there is one thing utilities are not ready for, it’s competition.

This is just another reason why the utilities are pushing back so strongly to keep renewables away.

Utility companies are not built for competition and as renewable energy alternatives gain more and more traction the stronger the pushback will be to keep IOUs from losing money.

Policy makers are beginning to feel the heat of unhappy residents who want more solar and renewables. Solar is poised to be a major player in both reducing the effects of climate change but also driving economic development.

Time will tell if IOUs and the gas and coal industry will switch their strategies to be better equipped to handle renewable energies, but for now, the fight to bring solar to the forefront continues.

Cleaning Your Air Ducts: How Much Does it Cost?

According to the HomeAdvisor, the average cost for professional duct cleaning in 2016 was about $350, with an approximate range between $200 and $700. Depending on the size of your house, the number of ducts, and the configuration of your system, cleaning your ducts may cost you more than the average.

Beware the Bargain Offers

Because air duct cleaning is a largely unregulated field, it is attractive to scammers. These fly-by-night operations usually attract customers by advertising a full-house duct cleaning for $99 or even $49.

If a business is offering such prices, they are making money in one of two ways (and possibly both). First, the “special” offer is a chance to get inside your house. Once they start inspecting, they find “problems” that will add on to the cost, and then pressure you to agree to the cleaning at their increased prices. They often using scare tactics, such as warning that you are damaging your air conditioner or that your ducts are full of mold.

The other way they make money is to do the “cleaning” for the stated price, but not at a professional level. They will open some vents and shove a standard household vacuum around inside, and call the job done in 30 minutes or so. A professional cleaning requires specialized equipment and takes several hours to complete.

Shoddy service can end up costing you even more, as there are delicate components in the system that can be damaged by careless handling. Furthermore, stirring up the dust and debris in the ducts can make allergies worse instead of better. A professional cleaning firm uses equipment that draws all the dust and debris to the outside of the house, where it is collected.

If an air duct cleaning technician working on an estimate claims to have found mold in your ducts — or even scarier, “black mold” — this can be a sign of a scam operation. If you do have a mold problem, you need to have it treated by someone who specializes in cleaning up mold.

Angie Hicks of Angie’s List recommends sending the cleaner away and contacting a qualified mold-testing firm to inspect and confirm whether mold is actually present and how serious the infestation is. If the inspection shows a minor problem that can be alleviated by a duct cleaning, you can go back to getting your quotes.

If you do have a serious mold problem, hire a specialized mold remediation firm. Someone untrained in mold remediation can spread the mold rather than alleviate it. This can lead to serious health problems for the residents of the house, and a more expensive cleanup later.

Choosing an Air Duct Cleaning Business

With all the potential scam artists, how do you make sure you get a qualified professional to clean your ducts? Start by asking friends and neighbors for referrals, and check online reviews of local businesses.

To make sure you are getting the best price, get quotes from at least three firms. A good business will come out and look at your system before quoting a price. Make sure the estimate includes a detailed listing of the services provided so that when you compare the quotes, you can be sure you are comparing prices for the same level of service.

Air duct cleaning is a relatively young field, and there are no licensing or certification requirements in most states. However, a reputable cleaning firm will follow the standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and will have credentials showing that they are members of the organization.

To be an NADCA member, a business must agree to follow the industry standards for cleaning, abide by a code of ethics, and have at least one employee who has professional certification through NADCA. The business also has to show NADCA that they carry liability insurance, which could be important if anything gets damaged during your cleaning.

Finally, once you have chosen an air duct cleaning business, make sure they give you a checklist of everything that they will do during the cleaning. When they are finished, have them walk you through and show you that they did everything on the list.

If they do not have a list of their own, there is a sample checklist on the NADCA website that you can download as a PDF and print out.

Take your time in choosing your air duct cleaning firm and don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics. Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Follow the suggestions here to get a thorough, professionally done air duct cleaning at a fair price.

How to Save Money With Renewable Energy and Green Home Improvements

No matter what time of year it is, you can always make improvements to your home to reduce the amount of energy you use. Melting snow and warmer weather may have you thinking about spring cleaning and home improvement projects. Or cooler weather in the fall may get you considering how to better and more efficiently heat your home.

Stop and consider money-saving green home improvements before you get busy with your toolbox or call your favorite contractor.

What makes your home green?

A green home promotes the health of your family without making a harmful impact on the environment. It features renewable resources, sustainable building practices and is energy efficient.

Home Inspections

You can enjoy the benefits of green home improvements and renewable energy technology without spending a lot.

Before you spend resources on home improvements, it is a good idea to take some time to do a thorough home inspection. You can do it yourself or hire a reputable contractor to do it for you. Many firms offer free home inspections and estimates for home repair work.

Energy Audits

An energy auditor is a specialist trained to examine how your home utilizes energy. Unlike a home inspection, energy auditors use specialized equipment to determine how energy efficient your home and appliances are.

The inspector will examine your property and provide a comprehensive report detailing the areas that need improvement for maximum results. You can learn more about the benefits gained from getting an energy audit by visiting resnet.us, the Residential Energy Services Network website.

Leaking Money

Do you have high heating and cooling costs or rooms that are uncomfortably hot or cold? Is dusting a constant chore and allergies a constant problem? Leaky, dirty duct works may be your problem. Old or inadequate insulation is another common problem area.

Repairing ducting and replacing old fiberglass insulation with environmentally friendly materials will greatly reduce wasted energy use and lower heating and cooling costs right away. If you have a quiet portable air conditioner, then doing simple maintenance tasks like cleaning the filter and making sure its draining properly can keep those costs down.

Clean and Seal Duct Works

Heating and cooling your home eats up nearly half your energy budget and even small increases in efficiency will make a difference. You do not always need to upgrade to a newer system to get better efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cleaning and sealing leaks in the ducting can improve

HVAC efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Regular cleaning benefits your family in other ways as well. Clean, well-maintained HVAC systems dramatically reduce the dust and airborne allergens inside your home. This keeps your family comfortable and less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma attacks caused by indoor air pollution.

Insulation

The EPA estimates that ten cents of every dollar you spend on energy is lost due to inadequate or old insulation. Your energy audit will reveal leaks around windows and doors, flashing around chimneys and other areas.

Many of the repairs are simple DIY projects but insulating inside walls may call for a professional. Some eco-friendly insulation options for attics, walls and crawlspaces are recycled cotton and cellulose. Sustainable insulation home improvements qualify for federal and state tax incentives. Improved efficiency and lower heating/cooling costs will save more than the cost of installation over time.

Hot Water Heaters

Older tank type hot water heaters waste energy keeping the water warm all the time. Consider replacing your old unit with new energy efficient tankless hot water heater or a solar hot water heater. On-demand, tankless systems produce hot water with less energy usage and can last much longer than tank type water heaters.

Solar water heaters are available in a wide variety of designs and they cost nothing to operate. The Department of Energy offers a useful site that helps homeowners decide if solar water heating is a good option for their situation.

(read more: Estimating the Cost and Energy Efficiency of a Solar Water Heater)

Tax Credits for Sustainable Energy Home Improvements

Making your home more efficient is save money on energy and a good way to put some extra cash in your pocket at tax time. Federal tax credits pay back up to ten percent of your investment for energy efficient home improvements and many state and municipal governments also offer energy efficient home improvement tax incentives.

The government wants to help you with credits of up to 30 percent of the costs for installing renewable energy systems. Federal tax credits and incentives help offset the cost of installing residential solar, wind and geothermal energy systems. Visit energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit to learn more about the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit.

Put some green into your maintenance and home improvements this year with sustainable, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Even with a limited home improvement budget, there are improvements that will make your home more energy efficient and cost less to heat and cool.

Even small increases in your home’s efficiency saves money on energy costs immediately and over time the improvements will pay for themselves.

 

10 Incredible Innovations In Alternative Energy

A great deal of research has gone into developing useful alternative energy sources. Here’s a look at some of the incredible innovations in the industry.

Beta.Ray: The Magic Sphere

Rawlemon, headed by the German architect Andre Broessel has created a spherical generator called the “beta.ray.” It generates energy twice as effectively as standard solar panels, despite having a smaller surface area.

This spherical solar generator is cost-effective, compact and can be placed on inclined surfaces. Moreover, it is fully functional during the night and in low light areas as it stores energy and can generate power from the moon.

Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS)

Posing as the fountainhead of hope for future generations, Space Solar Power Systems is working on wireless transmission of energy, eliminating the use of conventional cables. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has successfully demonstrated a trial via a microwave unit and hopes to fully implement this orbiting solar panel technology by 2030.

Tree-Shaped Wind Turbines

The French company New Wind has developed a 26-foot-high, tree-shaped wind turbine that can generate energy from winds moving as slowly as 4.5 mph. The tiny blades inside the “leaves” generate electricity using the smallest of wind currents and more efficiently than conventional wind turbines.

3D-Printed Solar Energy Trees

Recently, 3D printing has moved into the alternative energy field with flexible energy harvesting trees. Made using organic solar cells, the printed trees pick up kinetic energy from wind and heat energy from their surroundings.

They are functional both indoors and outdoors, effectively powering electrical appliances like small air conditioners.

Solar Leaf

Daniel Nocera and Pamela Silver, professors at MIT, developed the Solar Leaf. The system makes liquid fuel from carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water. The name is derived from the way the system mimics real-life photosynthesis in leaves.

Makani Energy Kite

The Makani Energy Kite is capable of generating 50% more energy while using 90% less material than standard wind turbines. This lightweight gadget, operated by smart software, works in areas where conventional turbines are not suitable.

The kite rises to an altitude of 800 feet with the help of rotors on its wings and utilizes high-energy winds to generate electricity by moving in a circular pattern.

Hydrobee

The ground-breaking Hydrobee invention acts as a USB power source from nature. It is the size of a 250-ml can and uses solar, kinetic and thermal energy to spin its turbine and generate electricity. It can be effectively used to power electrical appliances in off-grid areas using water, wind, sun or exercise as a power source.

PowerMod

PowerMod is a 20-by-20-foot portable electricity generator specifically designed for use in areas suffering from natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods. Portable and easily assembled in 15 minutes, PowerMod is made of thin fabric coated with a film of solar cells that can produce 4.5 kilowatts per day. It is extremely economical.

Kymogen Wave Generator

The Kymogen Wave Generator generates electricity from tidal movements rather than rushing water. It uses the movement of the waves in lakes, rivers, and seas to drive the flywheel inside its floating platform and generate electricity.

It can generate up to 100 kilowatts per day, which can effectively serve a small village.

Printable Solar Panels

Silicon-based, conventional solar panels are bulky and rigid.  Paper-thin printable “solar ink” panels are printed onto plastic rolls up to A3 size and only require an industrial printer.

Various inexpensive methods can be employed to apply the ink, including screen printing and spray coating. Low-cost, lightweight and flexible, solar ink is usable on a wide range of devices and materials, from computers and smartphones to windows and consumer packaging.

Global perceptions on renewable and alternative energy have changed as technologies become more innovative, adaptive and increasingly advanced. These breakthroughs are making renewable energy more accessible, effective and powerful.

The above alternative energy sources contribute to the most efficient use of the Earth’s natural, renewable resources.

 

This Could Be the Next Big Renewable Energy Source

In a 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications, Columbia University biophysicist Dr. Ozgur Sahin and colleagues assert that evaporation from reservoirs and lakes in the U.S. could produce 325 gigawatts of energy. That’s almost 70 percent of the average annual amount of energy the U.S. produces now.

This research marks the first time evaporation’s capacity as a renewable energy source has been studied. Although the new findings come from experiments conducted in a lab, researchers said they were excited about the real-world possibilities.

How Evaporation Creates Power

Evaporation can create usable power with the help of some microscopic friends. Sahin and his colleagues have developed a machine that uses a shutter to control humidity. The fluctuations in humidity encourage bacterial spores to contract and swell.

The energy from the movement of the spores is then transferred to a generator, where it is converted into electricity. Sahin and team call the machine they’ve invented the Evaporation Engine. Their new study was meant to examine how much energy the machine could produce in the U.S.

Solving Renewable Energy Problems

As the U.S. and the world try to offset the climate changing effects of burning fossil fuels, solar and wind energy have become key players in the energy industry. However, opponents of these renewable energy sources often point out that these methods cannot generate sufficient electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

And while the go-to solution has been large batteries that can store solar and wind power, these batteries must be manufactured using dangerous chemicals. They also create an additional financial hurdle for those who want to generate solar and wind power.

Evaporation, however, wouldn’t require a battery, Sahin and colleagues pointed out. And evaporation tech would be able to generate electricity on demand.

Saving Water

As drought concerns grow in the Western U.S. and other regions, saving water has become a priority for state governments. Those same state governments might be eager to get their hands on evaporation technology if Sahin’s findings ring true.

Roughly half of the water that evaporates could be saved during the process of harvesting energy, according to this study. In the scenario Sahin and his research team modeled, that could come to an estimated 25 trillions gallons of water each year. That’s around 20 percent of the water used in the U.S. annually.

Where It Could Work Best

Although Sahin and team said evaporation could be useful anywhere, they noted that places with hotter weather would likely see the most benefit from evaporation tech. They specifically mentioned California, Nevada, and Arizona.

These states also happen to struggle with water loss and drought. That means they could also benefit from the water-saving potential of evaporation technology.

The Future of Evaporation

Sahin said in a press release that evaporation tech could be used as a primary power source in the U.S. And when the conditions are right, solar and wind energy could supplement it.

This technology is still in its infancy, but Sahin and colleagues are refining the process to improve its efficiency. They said they hope to test evaporation tech in a greenhouse or on a lake or reservoir in the near future.

If you’re looking to reduce your energy footprint, one thing you can do is use ENERGY STAR rated appliances that do a better job of using energy. For small air conditioners, this could mean using a double hose model that funnels warm air outside of the home in order to better cool the air inside. 

 

Can HVAC UV Lights Help with Air Quality Issues?

Ultra violet (UV) lights have many uses. Many of them you’re probably not aware of. It can sterilize medical equipment, dry nail polish quickly, treat Vitamin D deficiency in people and sterilize different components in food production.

Recently, it is being incorporated in air conditioners. A good question to ask is if it really is worth it to pay extra to have them on our HVAC air handler. Does it really improve indoor air quality?

So, here’s a little bit of information about it that can help you make a decision for your home. UV lights are great in killing organic causes of air quality issues like bacteria and mold. However, they don’t do a lot against dust, pollen, pet dander and other allergens. So, it really depends on what the root cause of your low air quality is and how sensitive your family is to them.

Many people with allergies have a very strong sensitivity to a different allergens. UV lights are very good in killing mold so in general, it does have positive effects on the quality of your indoor air.

The Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology published a study in 2001, entitled “Effectiveness of Germicidal UV Radiation for Reducing Fungal Contamination within Air-Handling Units.” They cited that after only four months of operation, the fungal levels in a commercial building were reduced significantly.

Places like Florida, where high humidity and high temps create a breeding ground for mold and other microbes is a good example area to use UV lights.

How HVAC UV Lights Help Improve Air Quality

The lights are installed in the air handle of the air conditioner system. All molds within reach of the light will be killed. This means that the coil will remain mold free which is very important. Since air passes through the coils, mold spores and fungal particles will also be killed, thus purifying the air.

Should you install or not install?

To install UV lights in your HVAC system, you have two options. One is to purchase a stick light which you can attach near the return air duct. It can cost around $100 or more. It’s the most common system. The second option is to buy a whole system of air sterilization. The UV light cycles on with the air handler blower making it more effective than the stick light. These systems are also more costly. They can cost on average at least $1500.

The first option is good enough if you’re looking to keep the coils mold free. The latter option is best for those with allergies and need a better purification system.

Do you want to know more about air conditioners, visit our page for portable air conditioners.

How to Shop for Energy Efficient Air Conditioners

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Summer is the time for swimming, vacations, and racking up huge electric bills, if your old air conditioner is not energy efficient. Upgrading to a new unit, whether a central system or window unit, will help cut your bill while keeping you comfortable. The key to shopping for a new air conditioner is knowing about energy ratings and what the mean for your budget and the environment.

According to Energystar.gov, the Energy Star program is a voluntary program where companies and individuals can work together to make and buy products with a mind to their environmental impact. Established by EPA in 1992, under the authority of the Clean Air Act, the Energy Star logo is a familiar sticker on many appliances, particularly air conditioning units. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Rating, and the standard government rating is 9.8. Many of the newer units have a EER of 110.8 or 11. These ratings apply to central air conditioning units as well as window and portable air conditioners. The best part is that purchasing an energy star unit can save you money at tax time too. As of this writing, federal tax deductions exist for purchasing energy saving appliances.

Central Air Conditioners
Central Air conditioners are quiet and take up less space than window and potable units. They also are more effective in keeping your house cool and comfortable. Unless you live in a tiny apartment, having central AC is the best practical way to cool your home. As it is a big ticket expense, many homeowners delay putting out money for new unit; however, the money spent on a new central air conditioner unit will save money in the long run, so it is a wise investment.

Many of these units are designed to blow out of the central heating pump. What some purchasers don’t understand is that unless the blower exhaust systems in the heating unit is updated, the new system will not work as well as designed.

Window Air Conditioners
If you live in an apartment, or simply cannot afford central air conditioners, window units are the way to go. They also have energy star ratings. You need to keep the size of your window and the area you are cooling in mind to choose the best one. BTU’s stand for One British Thermal Unit (BTU) and stands for the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The Energy Star website,  has a handy guide to how many BTUs are needed to cool a certain sized room. For example, an 8,000 BTU Window unit would be adequate to cool a home office, but a larger unit would be needed for the living room. Many homeowners who don’t opt for central air find that they can save energy and money by installing several smaller units around the home, and turning off the units in rooms that are not in use. A central air conditioning unit cannot be calibrated to only cool one room, unless there is a separate thermostat unit in each room.

Portable Floor Air Conditioners
Portable floor rolling types of air conditioners do not work as well as central air conditioners, or even window units, but can be handy to roll out in an emergency if your central unit breaks down. A hose is attached out of the window for air exchange.

Looking for the Energy Star sticker and getting a unit, whether central or portable, to find an air conditioner that matches your home’s space, budget and cooling needs. Whether you be using air conditioning two months out of the year in Wisconsin or nine months a year inn Florida, keep the environment as well as your pocketbook in mind to get the best deal.

Check our reviews on air conditioners by visiting airconditionerlab.com.

How to Save Energy when Air Conditioning is a Must

There are some areas of the country where air conditioning isn’t just a convenience. When hot temperatures arise to triple digits, especially when such temperatures are combined with high humidity, public health can be affected. It’s always a good idea to have an air conditioner in the home for such times.

Air conditioning can be expensive, so it’s natural to want to know how to save energy when air conditioning is a must. Here are some answers to this question.

Use Air Conditioning Only When Needed

This may seem obvious, but the reality is that energy is often used mindlessly. How many times have you flipped a wall switch when entering a room, whether it was needed or not? The same is true for air conditioning. Instead of setting it at one setting and forgetting about it all summer, become more aware of how you actually use this power.

Most homes have a thermostat that indicates indoor temperature. When outdoor temperatures are lower than those indoor, take advantage of the free power offered to you by nature and open the windows. If you live in a ranch home, it’s likely that you have windows on both sides of the house. Open them to take advantage of cross ventilation. On days when you can’t open the window, keep shades closed to block as much of the sun as possible.

If you have a basement, consider furnishing it for use in the summer. Avoid cooking with your oven on hot days. Switch to cooking in your microwave or slow cooker instead.
When you must use the air conditioner, set the temperature as high as possible. Experts recommend a setting of 78 degrees fahrenheit as an average, to save money.

Install A Whole House Fan

One of the big problems in the summer is that heat becomes trapped in the home, making air conditioning essential when you’re trying to sleep at night. A whole house fan is an inexpensive way of solving that problem. It is installed into your attic floor to remove accumulated heat from the home in the evening, while opening windows to bring cooler air inside. This has been proven to lower energy bills.

Install ceiling fans in the rooms you use the most.

When You Are Away From Home

If you spend a large part of your day away from home, you may want to have a programmable thermostat installed. This allows you to program in your daily schedule so that air conditioning is cooler when you are at home to enjoy it.

When you go on vacation, set air conditioning temperatures high to save energy. It’s unwise to turn off air conditioning if temperatures are expected to be hot, especially in areas where high humidity is a problem.

These are only some ideas for how to save energy when air conditioning is a must. The best tip by far is to become an alert energy user. Saving energy instead of wasting it thoughtlessly will help you save money while benefiting the earth’s natural resources.

Energy Saving Air conditioners

 

 

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Air conditioners are a central part of the daily lives in lots of homes around the country. The heat wave that sweeps through the country every few months necessitates the need for having conditioners that regulates the warmth or coolness of air that enters or leaves your home. Most homeowners incorporate eco-friendly air conditioning designs and structural changes into their homes during the construction phase. Even then many other homes still need to have an air conditioning fitted.

Choosing Air Cons. Air conditioning is very critical particularly for kids, pets, the elderly and those who aren’t feeling well. There are lots of air conditioners in the market with different designs and efficiency. Needless to say, the pricier air conditioners tend to offer greater functionality than the cheaper ones. You have to consider the size of your house, the design, your personal preferences, and costs when choosing which air conditioner will work for your home. Typically, the conditioners cost between $500 and $4,000.

Friedrich Kuhl Plus. This air conditioner is also known to act as a heater. It works optimally when the temperature ranges from 50 degrees to 150 degrees. It’s well accomplished at regulating the temperature at your home in hot August days as well as chilly September nights. Its BTU unit is roughly 30% more than the standard government requirement. The air container has six different colour varieties to choose from. The air con is heavy grade and made with aluminium fins, copper tubing and retails at about $1000.

GE 115 Volt Room Air Con. This Energy-Star rated air con offers you about 12,000 BTUs with an EER of 10.8. This capacity is what makes it one of the most efficient air cons in the market. The federal standard for EER is about 9.8. This air con is fitted with a 24-hour timer to help you regulate its functioning. It is also equipped with a three-speed fan and an easy-to-access lift out the filter to help maximise air quality and flow.

Frigidaire Window-Mounted Compact Air Con. This air con is sleek enough to anyone’s liking yet small enough to fit even in cramped up apartment buildings. This air con generates about 8,000 BTUs which is sufficient to keep a 400-square foot suite comfortable and well regulated. The unit is controlled by a remote control which is also fitted with a thermostat. That’s how the remote is able to ensure that the unit regulates the room based on the room temperature and not the level of heat or cold on the window. It retails at about $250 and has an EER of

Kenmore. This is a heavy duty air con that can safely regulate 1600 square foot of space at one go. It delivers about 25,000 BTU which is among the highest among air con units. This Energy-Star rated unit has a thermostat too which enables it accurately regulate temperature. It also has an active timer which equips you to set the start and end time for the unit to run. It retails at about $590. Keep in mind that it is best fitted upstairs for it to regulate the entire house properly.

Whirlpool Resource Saver. This unit has 6300 BTU with an EER measure of 11 which is about 13% higher than the federal standards. It has both a remote and a docking system that monitors and regulate the temperature. It also has a 24-hour timer which allows you to set what time it should control the heat so that you can lower the energy bills. The whirlpool resource saver retails at about $350 a piece.

Saving Energy on Air Cons. First, you can keep the AC lower at night and raised during the day. You can also use portable units that only regulate the area that you need heated or cooled. Make sure you close off the vents, service your unit and also check the ducts regularly.

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