Air Conditioning and Heating blog by Melo Air Inc. In addition to HVAC industry news, we'll post cooling and heating related information we come across during our daily routines.
|Posted by AC Contractor on March 10, 2014 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
This past Saturday we sprung ahead and moved our clocks forward one hour. Since the Daylight Saving Act of 1917, the process of "springing ahead" and "falling" back has been a highly debated topic. It is even currently debated in Florida to have daylight savings year round. The arguments for keeping daylight saving year round is that it would be beneficial for the economy. Many suggests that people would stay out later and spend more money. A day at the beach would be prolonged just one more hour. That could be another snowcone, Budweiser or burger off the grill. Beaches would be just one outdoor activity to benefit. Theme parks, outlet malls and water parks would be just a few of the other businesses where it would be easy to translate more daylight into economic gain. One business that surely gains by having daylight saving is air conditioning.
Even with today's modern families, most people are together in the home in the evening. Homes will tend to be the hottest in the late afternoon after it has cooked all day in the sun and members of the family are returning home from work and school. All of these people tend to be hungry as well at this very same time. Running an oven or stove will also add a substantial amount of heat to the home. One force that helps to alleviate this heat and cool the home is the fact that the sun goes down. There is no additional heat coming through the windows. With standard time, during the winter it is dark in Tampa around 6:00 or earlier. With year round daylight savings, we probably won't see complete dark before 7:00 p.m. again.
Although this is a declining importance because the modern family is in and out of the home at all hours, this change would result in a noticeable bump in HVAC sales. While we all like more sunshine, you can also save on the extra potential wear and tear and energy costs associated with your central air conditioning system. Simply closing blinds will save substantially on your cooling costs and you can also invest in reflective film for your windows. For more information on how to save money on cooling costs or how daylight saving will affect your air conditioner, contact the HVAC experts at Melo Air today.
|Posted by AC Contractor on March 6, 2014 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
The technology with air conditioning compressors has been moving along rapidly during the past few years. It makes sense that compressors have received a lot of attention because they consume more energy than any other component in an HVAC system. The evolution has been: single stage compressors, two stage compressors, variable speed 2 stage compressors and now inverter compressors. Inverters allow ducted central HVAC systems to achieve 20 SEER plus. Some may have heard of Carrier's Greenspeed or Nordyne's iQ drive which have an inverter compressor but few understand how they operate so efficiently.
The reason why we don't stop our car engine at every red light is the best way to describe how an inverter compressor works. The starting and stopping of an engine, motors, compressors and such requires a significant amount of energy. A standard air conditioner or heat pump will go from 0% to 100% at the flick of a switch. Likewise, when the thermostat is satisfied with the temperature, all functions cease immediately. A standard compressor will operate at roughly 3600 rpm's while a condenser motor at nearly 1000 rpms. Again, it is all or nothing with a standard system. Inverter systems do not shut down. If the temperature is satisfied the system will operate at a very low speed, say 600 rpms for the compressor and 200 rpms for the condenser motor. Once the temperature begins to rise the system will gradually ramp up it's efforts. The compressor will go to 800 rpms, then 1000 rpms and so until the system determines the appropriate amount needed. In Tampa, the amount of times an air conditioner cycles on and off is well into the double digits for a single day. That is a lot of energy used on start up, not to mention wear and tear on a system.
Inverter compressors also help to ensure proper sizing. The amount of airflow is always the appropriate amount. There is much less risk of doing harm to your system by oversizing if your contractor did not perform a manual j load calculation. Because the system does not cycle on and off it is also much more reliable than standard air conditioning and heating equipment.
We don't believe that the current costs for ducted, inverter systems can be justified in terms of ROI. It can take well over a decade of energy savings to realize any advantages over a minimum 13 SEER system and is not at all attractive as an investment compared to what we consider the sweet spot, a 16 SEER 2 stage system.
Stay tuned to the air conditioning and heating blog by Tampa's AC experts, Melo Air, for more tips and information to help you make the best decision for the next air conditioner or heat pump for your home.
|Posted by AC Contractor on March 3, 2014 at 10:40 PM||comments (0)|
On a weekly basis we are bombarded with a slew of economic data to digest that are indicators on how the economy is performing. These data points can be: unemployment rate, new housing starts, corporate earnings, workforce participation rate, UPS shipments, etc. All too often, these indicators have presented conflicting data on the health of the economy. These indicators have become increasingly important because the Fed is using this information to determine fiscal policy, namely whether or not to taper. Although it is rarely talked about, one significant indicator on the economy is the number of units shipped in the HVAC industry.
HVAC shipments should be considered a leading economic indicator and here is why. Heating and cooling have become a commodity in the United States. We have become too accustomed to indoor comfort and we can no longer live without it. HVAC is no longer a luxury item but a must have. When the AC or heat pump fails, homeowners make sacrifices elsewhere to get their system up and running again. What we are trying to say is that heating and cooling is an unavoidable expense. Consumption patters typically do not change much regardless of the economic climate.
The Chart below shows the total serialized equipment shipments in the HVAC industry since 2005.
As you can see there is an upward trend since the industry bottomed out in 2009 but we will take a little bit deeper look at this information. Units shipped generally falls into two categories, new construction and replacement. New construction sales are no where near their highs but have had positive momentum the past two years. In 2005 the industry shipped over 1.6 million systems for the new construction industry. That number continued to shrink to 446,000 units in 2011. This past year the industry shipped more than 570,000 systems to be used in single family new construction applications. While the new construction data gives a good indication of the economy, we believe that the replacement business is more telling. Too many investors are speculating on home prices, even the Chinese are buying homes in the USA. Because of this, new home starts may not be the best indicator. We believe that residential replacement sales give a better indication of how Main Street is performing.
Similar to the new construction numbers, we are down from our peak but have an upward momentum. In 2005, the industry shipped more than 6 million units for the replacement market. As we bottomed out in the recession, the number had dropped to 3.8 million in 2009 and has recovered to more than 4.8 million in 2013. We don't believe that this is simply a result of pent-up demand but a healthier economy. The recession created a bottle-neck of sorts but the increase has been too great to explain away by many homeowners continually repairing systems that should have been replaced. Replacing a home's HVAC system provides an ROI and is often the best financial decision to replace. In addition, there was a strong federal tax credit ($1500) for installing high efficiency equipment in 2009 and 2010 but we are selling more than then.
Although we won't say the economy is great, we do see it improving. People have been willing to spend some money and banks are lending more generously than in previous years. We expect the HVAC industry to have increased sales for both new construction and replacement markets in 2014 as the economy continues to recover and more old systems are replaced.
We hope that this report has given a boost to your confidence. We have seen improvement. Stay tuned to the HVAC experts at Melo Air for more current, industry related information.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 27, 2014 at 8:10 PM||comments (0)|
As we close out the month of February, those of us in the air conditioning business can start to breathe the sigh of relief because we have survived the winter. Demand for air conditioning during the winter in Tampa is so much lower than the rest of the year, we really get excited as we head into spring.The number of service calls we receive begins to expand rapidly once we hit March and we're full speed by the time we get to April and May. During January, we rarely get calls requiring air conditioning repair. They are mostly "no heat" related service calls. February also brings with it some heat calls but the AC related calls also start to come in despite the temperatures not being much warmer than in January. While increased humidity can lead to lack of comfort, it doesn't really explain the extra usage of air conditioners when temperatures have remained similar. Even if they were slightly higher, outdoor temperatures still remained lower than the thermostat set point in most people's homes. It seems like homes were taking longer to cool off in the evening and the AC was running despite an outdoor temperature of 76 and a set point of 78.
One reason why this is occurring is because of the added daylight. The amount of sunlight we have seems to increase with each passing day. Tonight, it was nearly 7 p.m. until the sun had gone down in Tampa. That couple of extra hours of sunlight when most of the family members are home and during cooking hours is sure to increase the temperature in the home even if the outside air is cool. Utilizing blinds or shades will save significantly on cooling costs. Although the heat created by the extra sunlight is enough to raise the temperature in the home, it is minimal compared to the ambient heat and humidity of summer.
We expect business to really pick up as we head into March. Average daily highs increase from 74 degrees at the start of the month to 79 degrees at the end. While the temperature during the month is still moderate i.e. only one day on average above 85 degrees and below 65, air conditioning consumption in Tampa does begin a climb upward.
This all means that time is running out to get any off-season deals in place. We are specifically talking about maintenance or tune ups, duct cleanings and new system installations. All of these products will be discounted deeply prior to the summer madness. Contact the experts at Melo Air to schedule any of these air conditioning services today!
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 24, 2014 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
Just like many other industries, HVAC has seemingly made more technological advancements in the past decade than the previous century when modern air conditioning was first discovered. Enhancements have been made to efficiency, size, costs, and reliability. With so much accomplished, we have some ideas but can mostly speculate on what the future will bring to HVAC.
Most of the opportunity continues to be with increased energy reduction. That is because heating and cooling costs are still roughly half of a home's energy consumption. Some of the enhancements we've seen become more common over the past decade are two stage compressors and variable speed air handlers. As we move into the future, we are likely to see more inverter and VRV technology. We've also seen a rise in zoned systems which allow a homeowner to only heat or cool a portion of their home instead of the entire house. Thermostats has also become more advanced and are significantly contributing to energy savings in a home. In the future, they will likely have more features i.e. security. Ducts continue to be a target for improvement because they have been fingered as one of the main culprits for loss of energy. We expect a number of advancements to be made with ducts that include sealing or a new distribution method altogether.
Sizes have shrunk for the most part despite increasing efficiencies. Manufacturers have found ways to add rows of coil to increase surface area without making equipment larger. Size will continue to become an issue as we move into the future and space is at a premium. We may see more in the way of mini splits. The indoor unit can be entirely out of the way with a cassette style.
Because of the increasing foreign pressure on competition, costs have remained stable (calculating inflation) despite the enhancements. Manufacturers have been able to automate more of the manufacturing process and have reduced their distribution costs. We anticipate that air conditioning and heating products will create additional value or return on investment as we move into the future.
Many manufacturers have also increased their warranty. Most have doubled or are longer. Ten years ago, Goodman became the first domestic manufacturer to offer a ten year warranty on all parts. While it took a few years, other manufacturers began to catch up and now some even offer 12 year warranties or longer. Because many manufacturers have paid significant warranty costs due to factors outside their control, we don't expect warranties to become any longer in duration. We believe the opposite may happen or that a "tightening" will occur. Currently, parts are warranted without question but moving into the future a homeowner may need to prove routine maintenance had occurred.
At Melo Air, we expect more rapid changes within the industry and are prepared to adapt and learn. We believe that many new and exciting things are coming to HVAC that will bring more attention to what has typically been a dull industry.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 20, 2014 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Surprisingly, February can be one of the most challenging months to find indoor comfort in Tampa. Although temperatures have stabilized some today, this past week has shown us some bizarre temperature trends that include swings of temperatures greater than 25 degrees in the same day. Several days saw low's in the 40's with high's in the upper 70's. Without having a thermostat with an auto-changeover function, you may end up quite uncomfortable before you realize your system is not doing what you need it to. Auto changeovers have heat and cool settings so if temperatures fluctuate wildly, the system will heat or cool and does not need to be restricted to one function or another. Even if you had the foresight to install a auto-changeover thermostat on your HVAC system, there is still an even greater problem at hand.
Many people are realizing this week that 78 degrees or whatever temperature they normally set their home at is not as comfortable or cool as they thought it was. This is because our homes are not as efficient as removing humidity during the winter. This would seem odd as there is generally less humidity during the winter but I'll explain. During the summer months when the temperatures are the hottest, an air conditioner rarely stops running. All the while it is operating, it is removing moisture from the home. Meanwhile, in February an air conditioner rarely needs to turn on. This is because temperatures are often in the low 70's and there isn't enough radiant heat from the sun to generate a call for cooling. Because the system is not running often, moisture builds up in the home. To compensate, homeowners often turn down the thermostat and run their system to remove humidity. This will often drop the temperature much lower than they are comfortable with and still leave them clammy. This is because the outside temperature is not that hot and the home cools quickly which does not give the system adequate time to remove humidity.
Fortunately for those of us that deal with excessive humidity, there are dehumidification options. You can not only increase your comfort but you may even save money on energy as well. Contact the indoor climate experts at Melo Air to find out more about the benefits and features of dehumidification.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 17, 2014 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
It sure does seem like heat pumps around the Tampa area did not get much of a break this winter. Along with the rest of the nation, Florida has been hit hard by cold this year. We had a record number of cold days in Tampa this January and the chill has continued on into February. We come across a number of homeowners that give their system a tune up at the end of the cooling season, having it ready for the next year. Because of the extended usage during the winter months, it may be a good idea to check up on a few key components to ensure your system will be reliable when you need it the most in the summer.
Replace your filters. This is key. Most people use the disposable, 1-2 month filters. The life of the filters is prolonged during the winter, however, this year is a little bit different. Because of the heavy usage, your HVAC system's filters are likely needing to be replaced before we head into the cooling season. Dirty filters really create a strain on the system. It causes it to work much harder because it has to suck air through dirt, debris and other particles in the filter. In addition to the substantially decreased efficiency, it could cause damage to parts such as a TXV. Your system may try to correct itself and overfeed refrigerant.
Another important service that should be done is having both the condenser coil cleaned. Airflow will be restricted causing the system to work much harder. In addition to consuming more energy, it may also cause issues for other components in the system. Dirty coils may also lead to increased corrosion and premature leaking or failure. If you have typically had this service done every two years, it may be wise to not skip this year because of heavy winter usage. A condenser coil can be cleaned by a homeowner using coil cleaner and a regular garden hose.
One last measure a homeowner can do to help increase their own HVAC system's reliability is to ensure the drain line is not clogged. This can be accomplish by simply pouring hot water down your drain line. This will help to clear out algae and other debris that will clogged the drain and eventually shut off your system.
Having a properly maintenance system will save you money on your energy bill and reduce the chances of having your system fail in the middle of summer. For more information on proper HVAC maintenance, contact the Tampa air conditioning experts at Melo Air today.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 13, 2014 at 8:20 PM||comments (0)|
We are consistently being asked from homeowners what the best ways are to save money on their air conditioning costs. This is no surprise. Tampa has 2800 cooling hours a year which is considerably higher than the national average. In most Florida homes, air conditioning costs exceed over half of their total utility costs. The good news is that you don't have to spend several thousand dollars on a new system to enjoy a little energy savings. Some things a homeowner can do to reduce their AC costs would be to caulk windows and doors as well as add weather stripping, add insulation, use ceiling fans and regularly maintain their system but one method is far and away the best. While it isn't as cheap as a tube of caulk, it definitely is not as expensive as adding insulation to your attic. Currently, it is hard to argue that this device does not provide the greatest ROI when trying to increase your air conditioner's efficiency.
It took a while for HVAC to catch onto technology but we're getting there. The ability to control your thermostat from your smart phone is the easiest and most cost effective way to save money on heating and cooling costs. WiFi enabled thermostats are becoming quite popular. One of the most obvious advantages is you can raise or lower the temperature while you are away. Let's say you normally keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees. One day you decide to take your family to Magic Kingdom for the day. Everyone in the home will be away but your system will continue to cool the a comfortable 78 degrees. With your WiFi enabled thermostat, you could raise the temperature a couple degrees for the day and lower to your comfort set point as you're getting in the car to drive home. You have effortlessly saved a couple dollars and have not sacrificed your indoor comfort whatsoever. It is true that you could have accomplished this with a programmable thermostat, but that requires significantly more effort and usually doesn't happen. Under the right conditions i.e. family life, work life, etc. a real assiduous effort could save someone up to $1,000 a year or more.
WiFi thermostats have a number of other great benefits to increase comfort in addition to energy savings. For more information on WiFi thermostats and how they can improve your HVAC system, contact Melo Air today.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 10, 2014 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
There sure is a lot of wrong information out there. In addition to that, there is a lot of just plain deception online as well. We are coming across an increasing number of people that are getting bad information. It is frustrating when one sets out to learn and gather information but winds up more confused than when he started. While a consumer is researching which brands to buy or the contractor that is going to install their new system, they may struggle to find the right place for information and considerable bias along the way. We decided to offer a few suggestions the next time you're needing information regarding air conditioning and heating.
The type of information you are needing will depend on the best places to look. If you just have general questions on a wide range of topics, our favorite forum is HVAC Talk. This is a heavily moderated forum and is extremely high quality. Google thinks so also as it ranks many of the website's pages for a variety of air conditioner related keywords. Odds are your question has already been answered. We recommend conducting a search for your topic before posting a question. If you do post a question, you can have assurance that anyone who replies has been a qualified technician. In order for a technician or contractor to respond to a homeowner question, they must have participated heavily in the forum already and be accepted by the moderators. You cat get help here with troubleshooting your HVAC system, opinions on brands and efficiency, contractor selection and much more. While these forums can be heavily biased, HVAC Talk features the most qualified technicians and discussions of any HVAC forum on the web.
If you have questions regarding your system such warranty, accessories, etc., the best source of information is the manufacturer themselves. Unless you have a relationship with your contractor, it would probably not be a good idea to ask them non-technical questions about your system. They may have incentive to give you wrong information but often times they don't know. Many air conditioning contractors work closely with one or two distributors and have little information on how the rest of the competition operates. It is also important to make sure you end up on the manufacturer's website and not a wholesaler or other website that appears to be the manufacturer's website. We recommend to Google search the brand name of your system only and click the #1 result. This will ensure you have not landed on a website that is optimized for keywords such as "buy so and so brand wholesale online" or similar. Once on the manufacturer's site, with some navigation you are able to find the local distributor contact information as well. They will be able to answer specific questions regarding your HVAC system as well as recommend local air conditioning contractors for service or installation.
If addition to the manufacturer and distributor recommendation on air conditioning contractor selection, you should also check out their BBB ratings. Although some websites like Yelp have taken a more aggressive approach than their competitors to rid spam reviews, they are too easy to fake. It is not possible to fake with the BBB as it requires follow up on both the business and consumer. Unlike a one-sided online review, you get to see the resolution. You are able to more easily determine if the consumer was a legitimate concern or was being unreasonable.
We can't guarantee that these options will be perfect but believe it arms soon to be informed consumer with the best places to begin whether you have general questions, need information about your system or are searching for a new contractor. Stay tuned to the air conditioning blog by Melo Air, a Tampa air conditioning company, for more information regarding the HVAC industry.
|Posted by AC Contractor on February 6, 2014 at 6:45 PM||comments (1)|
I was having breakfast with a friend the other day and we were discussing our work when he began asking me a little bit more targeted questions about air conditioning. He was asking some of the routine questions such as how we handle the challenges of being such a seasonal business to how sales were compared to previous years and the he asked something I don't think I've ever been asked before. He says, "Do you guys install any solar powered air conditioners?" At the time I proceeded to answer the question and it hadn't dawned on me until later as I was reflecting how remarkable it is that no one has ever asked me that. I'm still not sure it is as big a deal as to prompt me to write about it in a blog post. I guess I was surprised that this was the first time I had been asked about solar power when it had been so heavily discussed within our industry for years. It isn't as if solar power is not mainstream. If anything, this helps to prove what many of us believe to be true about the solar powered HVAC products.
Although it seems like a great idea in a sunny place like Tampa, the only major manufacturer that has really taken on solar projects is Lennox with their Sunsource product lines. Although there have been some advancements with the product over the years, according to their original press release, the solar panel assisted the condenser fan motor only. Although this would certainly increase the efficiency, this is only a fraction of the whole system. There is still the indoor fan and more importantly a compressor that need to be powered. When comparing the costs to other high efficiency HVAC systems, it is difficult to justify the extra costs up front for a solar-powered air conditioner. One advantage of purchasing these systems is the 25d tax credit which pays nearly 10% of the installation costs through 2016. The 25c federal tax credits for non solar assisted air conditioners and heat pumps expired at the end of 2013. Some in the industry have argued it is a gimmick simply to pass for tax credits.
Whether or not the industry will continue to pursue solar has yet to be seen. There have been a number of developments recently that make for more efficient ways to cool and heat spaces. Some of these technological advances we've been familiar with domestically such as two stage compressors and variable speed air handlers but there are new foreign products on the horizon as well that can be incorporated into existing technology. Inverter compressors and variable refrigerant flow are two that come to mind immediately. There is also a tremendous amount of opportunity to reduce energy consumption through air distribution systems. Zone systems or completely sealed ducts may be a more practical way to save energy that installing expensive solar panels. Whatever the newest technology, you can count on the Tampa AC experts at Melo Air to keep you informed of all the choices you have.