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 December 5, 2013 at 1:50 PM||comments (0)|
We are quickly approaching the final year that air conditioning contractors are lawfully able to install 13 SEER air conditioning and heating equipment. The 14 SEER requirement for the air conditioner portion of the new AC and heat pump energy standards applies to southern states only. We'll examine how that will affect those of us in the Tampa, Florida HVAC marketplace.
We believe that one impact there would be is fewer choices. It may be difficult for a smaller manufacturer like Klimaire or a foreign made product like Ameristar to compete because they do not have complete product lines. HVAC manufacturers that operate with a low cost structure have difficult times competing on price with more efficient products because they simply cost more to make and have not invested in the R & D required. Consumers that purchase these manufacturer's products typically do not buy higher efficiency because they are buying on cost. Beginning on January 1 2015, these manufacturers will lose a substantial portion of their business in the southern United States which may threaten their overall viability domestically.
Another noticeable impact that consumers will face in Tampa is increased installation costs. We specify installation costs because of the return on investment with upgrading HVAC equipment. The wholesale costs between a 13 and 14 SEER are marginal and the costs of ownership of a 13 SEER would exceed that of a 14 SEER within just a couple years. Another consideration regarding the increased installation costs is that the TECO rebate and federal tax credit may be in jeopardy. It hardly makes sense to subsidize increased efficiency (15 SEER) when the minimum is only 14. The total of these rebates ($575) could easily be double the wholesale cost difference between a 13 SEER and 14 SEER air conditioner. We speculate the TECO rebate is less vulnerable because it has been in existence longer than the tax credit. Hopefully they will both remain in place but with high requirements that encourage people to discover the benefits of installing a two stage condensing unit.
Homeowners could also face increased costs if they have larger systems i.e. 4 or 5 ton. One of the few ways to increase efficiency is through a larger coil surface area. Larger coil surface areas mean larger pieces of equipment. Often times the existing HVAC system is installed in tight and difficult to reach places. The exposure to increased costs is two-fold. Because of size limitations, many manufacturers do not have ideal condenser and air handler match-ups that have 3 key components: low cost, small size, meet energy requirements. If your attic space or closet is small, you may need to purchase a more expensive condensing unit and air handler that is smaller and more efficient or pay the contractor for the added labor of moving the location to accommodate the new system.
The heating and cooling experts at Melo Air recommend to stay ahead of the curve on this one if possible. There is a considerable amount of uncertainty heading into 2015 and beyond. Installation price and equipment costs are currently reasonable as is the incentives (rebates) to buy one. If your system is nearing the end and the budget allows, it would be wise to replace now. If you're interested in upgrading your HVAC, contact us today for a free estimate on a new AC installation.
|Posted by AC Contractor on December 2, 2013 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
If you're living in Tampa, by this time of year you should be receiving plenty of offers for air conditioning maintenance or a tune-up. Having a tune-up on your air conditioner, heat pump or furnace is important because it ensures the system is operated efficiently. Many times a tune-up will be able to identify a failure before it happens. This can be a drain line that is clogging up, fittings that have become loose and low refrigerant for example that are quick fixes. This can easily make the $79 offseason tune-up attractive because you avoid having the unexpected failure when you need the system the most. While some of these are good, some seem almost too good to be true. Before you decide to purchase a $29 21 point AC inspection, we'll offer some perspective on the cost as well as identify what services have value in a maintenance inspection.
One way to identify whether or not the tune-up has value is by the cost. Considering the 2013 IRS mileage rate is $.565, the auto expense alone can cut deep in the $29 price tag. If a consumer is only 10 miles away, according to the IRS that would cost the business $11.30 alone. Next there would be a technician to pay. Including travel time, it should take an experienced technician a minimum of one hour to perform the task. If the technician earned a modest $13 an hour, that would put the contractor's cost at $24.30. There would also be the cost of the advertising piece, dispatcher, tools, forms, etc. It becomes clear that as these prices, the air conditioning company surely loses on the transaction. In our opinion, there are two possible outcomes or goals when a tune-up is priced so low. They either take the loss because they value the customer acquisition or they must sell additional services once they get to the house. Unfortunately, the latter happens more often than one would think. One should be skeptical if any of the following happens while having their AC tune-up:
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM||comments (0)|
When you woke up this morning, you didn't need anyone to tell you that it was a cold Tampa Thanksgiving morning which increased demand for heating. Fortunately, we'll have warmer weather later today. As the temperature increases outside, the sun continues to shine and as families gather and cook their Thanksgiving meals, temperatures inside the homes will rise also creating a demand for cooling. The need to heat and cool in the same day in Florida is common in the winter months. The importance of controlling temperature, particularly during family holidays got us thinking as to how heating and cooling were accomplished during the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Although the modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier, other climate control methods were applied and we'll examine those.
Central heating systems can be found in dig sites at least as far back as 5000 B.C. In Korea, the kang is among the first heated systems. They consisted of brick or clay floors which had ducts underneath them supplied by a burning fire.
Hearths appeared as early as 5000 years ago or 3000 B.C. and were used for cooking and heating. Some hearths had transformed into a ondol design which burned wood outside of the building entirely. This reduced over-heating in the summer and indoor smoke. By 1000 B.C. some dwelling contained two hearths, one for cooking and one for heating.
Romans used central heating systems called a hypocaust. Hypocausts had a dual function which was to create heat and distribute it as well. They were common in bathhouses, a fire heated the water and also distributed through the air through stone or brick ducts under the floor. Illustrations can be seen here and here.
These methods of heating continued to be refined and improved but the world had not received much new heating technology for over a thousand years. It wasn't until after the first Thanksgiving that we started to see some new heating technology that included the Franklin Stove in 1741 and the modern day water heater and boiler in 1800.
Cooling efforts were much more difficult and less efficient. Cooling was provided by wind blowing throug moist reeds, aqueducts circulating homes, cisterns and windcatchers. It wasn't until well after the first Thanksgiving that great strides were made in the evaporation process in the late 1800's producing the modern air conditioner in 1902.
We hope that you've learned some history or heating and cooling. Whether you are needing your air conditioner or heat pump this Thanksgiving, Melo Air is on call for emergency services. Have a great holiday.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
At Melo Air Inc, we offer a number of options for financing a new central air conditioning system. Regardless of your budget, our various credit terms combined with our new HVAC system packages is sure to find a system that works for you. Throughout this winter season, Melo Air is offering the most aggressive plans offered by EGIA. Below we'll estimate a monthly payment when you finance a new Goodman heat pump system.
Our first system we offer financing on is our economy model. This system includes a builders model air conditioner, standard air handler, digital thermostat and a ten year parts warranty. For a limited time, our base price for a 3 ton economy model is $3100. During the winter months, we offer a number of promotion that include: extended 0% interest on equal payments with extended terms (4 years), reduced APR on extended loans (12 year) and reduced APR on a 7 year loan. Below we have estimated the monthly payment on a base, economy system:
0% Interest w/4 Years Equal Payment: $64.58
3.99% APR (7 Years): $42.36
7.99% APR (12 Years): $33.54
Our next model offered is the basic which includes a builders model heat pump, standard air handler, digital therostat, a ten year parts warranty and one year labor. The retail price on a standard basic model through February is $3600. Below is the estimated payment under our various financing programs:
0% Interest w/4 Years Equal Payments: $75.00
3.99% APR (7 Years): $49.29
7.99% APR (12 Years): $38.95
Our next model offered is the premium which includes an energy efficient heat pump as well as an air handler with an EEM motor, lifetime compressor warranty, 10 year parts and labor warranty, programmable thermostat and qualifies for $575 worth of rebates and tax credit if installed in the Tampa, Florida area. Retail price on our 3 ton system through February is $4900 with an estimated monthly payment below:
0% Interesest w/Equal Payments (4 Years): 102.08
3.99% APR (7 Years): $66.95
7.99% APR (12 Years): $53.01
Our supreme offering includes a high efficiency heat pump condenser with a two stage compressor (more on 2 stage compressors). This system also includes a variable speed air handler for added comfort and humidity control, 10 year parts and labor warranty with a lifetime compressor warranty, wi-fi enabled thermostat, UV purification system, 4" air cleaner and qualifies for $575 in tax credits and energy rebates if installed in the Tampa area. Retail price on the 3 ton supreme model through February is $5500 with an estimated monthly payment below:
0% Interest w/Equal Payments (4 Years) $114.58
3.99% APR (7 Years): $75.12
7.99% APR (12 Years): $59.50
Although you can see your estimated monthly payment, this is not your true out of pocket monthly cost. You can use our SEER calculator to estimate energy savings over your current system. Currently, the most common SEER on replacement equipment is 10. Compared to a 10 SEER our basic, premium and supreme models would an average of $22, $32 and $48 respectively per month. What makes these rates particularly affordable is that the premium and supreme offerings also include labor guarantees that exceed the life of the loan. This ensures that other than routine maintenance, there will be no additional out of pocket cost for your air conditioner or heat pump other than the loan payment.
As you can see, there is a real return on investment when purchasing a new air conditioner or heat pump. If you have any additional questions regarding financing options, new system benefits and features or would like a free estimate, contact the air conditioning experts at Melo Air today.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 21, 2013 at 8:10 PM||comments (0)|
Hot, humid climates such as we have here in the Tampa area present some unique challenges for HVAC contractors. We must find a way to comply manual j load calculation requirements while providing optimum indoor comfort. Optimum indoor comfort can also mean 68 degrees inside on a 95 degree day. Although some of these demands placed on the equipment were unrealistic, contractors in Florida oversized air conditioners to avoid the call-back or confrontation later. Despite the fact that Tampa has 2800 cooling hours throughout the year, the vast majority of those are on days where the temperature is not over 90 degrees. Some estimate that more than half of the air conditioning equipment in Florida is oversized. Having the right size air conditioner is important because you will consume less energy while prolonging the life of the equipment.
One way that you can get the best of both worlds is by installing an air condioning or heating system that uses a two stage compressor. With this type of air conditioner or heat pump, it will run in a high or low stage. Low stage is equivalent to 70% of the system's total capacity. Unless the thermostat setting is greater than 2 degrees of the actual temperature or the weather is extraordinarily hot, the system runs in low stage. Two stage compressors help to ensure that there will be enough cooling on the hottest days of the year without having to deal with the short cycles associated with oversized equipment when it isn't. In addition to having the appropriate capacity, 2 stage compressors save a significant amount on utility bills. It is important to note that when SEER is tested by AHRI on two stage equipment, it is done on the high stage. Basically, it is like testing a single stage system although some estimate that 2 stage compressor run on low stage up to 90% of the time. In other words, a 16 SEER system with a 2 stage compressor will cost considerably less to run that a 16 SEER system with a single stage compressor. If SEER is equal, a 2 stage compressor can easily save up to $250 a year over a single stage. You can use our SEER calculator to estimate savings if you were to install a new central AC with a single or 2 stage compressor.
Another way a new central AC or heat pump system with a 2 stage compressor can save money while adding comfort is they require variable speed air handlers. Variable speed air handlers ramp up and down depending on demand thus being able to handle the high and low stage condensing unit. They draw additional humidity out of the air because the run longer and at slower speeds. Because of the dehumidification, homeowners can often raise the thermostat setting a degree or two and experience the same comfort level. It is common to save more than $100 annually by installing a variable speed air handler instead of one that uses a standard EEM motor. Variable speed air handlers will also solve comfort issues that occur in Tampa during cloudy days in the winter. Because the temperature is not extremely hot, the thermostat does not call for cooling often but the high humidity is still there. Often times people will lower the thermostat only to have the system run a short time and then shut off. Then they are clammy and still have high humidity.
Air conditioning and heating equipment upgrades provide a return on investment faster than any appliance in the home whether its a range, hot water heater, freezer or dryer. When you install a system that uses a two stage compressor, the return is often realized well before the warranty expires. If you have questions about 2 stage compressor or would like a free estimate on a new central AC or heat pump system, contact Melo Air today.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
Every once in a while someone will ask us, "How do you come up with your pricing?" At Melo Air we have a fair and transparent pricing policy and we believe all air conditioning contractors should be able to explain their pricing methods. We believe this policy is important because there typically is a vast difference in pricing between competing contractors. We believe that homeowner insight of the costs and risks of HVAC contractors is beneficial to the comfort level when a transaction is occurring.
A goal of Melo Air is to produce a quality product at an affordable rate. We don't believe that cheap labor is the way to achieve that. In order to provide quality, it requires paying an experienced technician at least $15 an hour. This seems fair since you can make $15 working at McDonalds. In addition to that, an air conditioning technician must have EPA certifications, know how to solder and use various tools, diagnose system failures accurately, be good with mathematical calculations, remember technical data (performance, sizing, etc.), communicate effectively with homeowners and much more. By the way, in Tampa they will also need to contend with attics that reach well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I think just about every one can agree that $15 an hour is more than fair for air conditioner repair service in the Tampa area. In addition to the hourly wage, we offer a benefits package to assist with employee retention. Wage and benefits bring the total labor burden to $18 an hour.
Although most would agree that $18 an hour for air conditioning repair service is quite the deal, we can't simply bill this amount or we would go out of business. A major cost to consider is that we don't bill an hour for every hour of labor we pay. For instance, we don't bill for travel time or time that the technician is at the supply house completing a warranty or picking up additional parts. Athough we aren't billing, the employee is still compensated for that time and the company must account for that. Our labor efficiency rate is 75%. That is, we bill 45 minutes for every hour of payroll we incur on our technicians. This is far above the industry average of 52%. Through various investments in technology (GPS), training, tools, etc. we have been more efficient than our competitors. In order to properly adjust our hourly rate according to our efficiency wage rate, we could take $18 divided by 75%. This brings our new rate for air conditioner repair service in Tampa to $24 an hour.
We now need to account for the overhead of the company. Afterall, we can't send the technician to his call on a bicycle. In addition to trucks we need phones, a dispatcher, uniforms, insurance, licensing, certifications, software, hardware, advertising, marketing costs, training, offices and much more. In the HVAC industry, a standard among the top performing companies is that labor represents 22% of service revenue. To determine our actual hourly labor rate, we then take $24 divided by 22% which totals $109 an hour.
At Melo Air, we are constantly evaluating our hourly rate and examing ways to become more efficient, driving down the cost to our customers. When you hire Melo Air for your air conditioning and heating needs in the Tampa Bay area, you can rest assured your job will be priced fairly and as competitive as possible.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 14, 2013 at 10:50 PM||comments (0)|
Many people are unaware that major brands of HVAC equipment are not necessarily available in all parts of the country; however, for homeowners looking to install or replace a new central air conditioning system in the Tampa area, they will certainly have many choices on brands. The amount and type of brands in a particular market place depends on the wholesaler/distributor channel of the HVAC industry. The Tampa market would also consist of the surrounding cities of Clearwater, Saint Petersburg, Largo, Riverview, Brandon, Lutz, Odessa, Seffner, Gibsonton and Valrico. That represents over two million people and virtually all of them need air conditioning. Because of the high demand for cooling, there are more than a dozen distribution points in Tampa. We'll take a look at what brands are available through them.
We'll start with manufacturers that own distribution centers. Goodman Distribution has two locations in Tampa. Goodman Distribution is owned by Daikin (6367:Tokyo) and carries three brands on their warehouses. Although Goodman Distribution currently stocks Goodman, Amana, GMC and Daikin products, they will no longer carry Amana products as of December 1, 2013. Amana will be distributed exclusively through the Tampa Bay area by the Johnston Ware Group Clearwater location. Goodman will continue to manufacturer Amana equipment. In addition to Daikin equipment, Whirlpool HVAC equipment is also manufactuered by Goodman.
Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE:IR) also distributes their own equipment that includes Trane and Ameristar. Ameristar was added to Ingersoll-Rand's lineup as a reaction to poor market conditions during the Great Recession. Trane is a premium brand of equipment that comes at a premium price. They lost substantial market share as the economy eroded.
Lennox (NYSE:LII) is another manufacturer that distributes their own equipment. In addition to their premium Lennox brand, tertiary brands are also found in their distrubution centers including Ducane, Aire-Flo and Armstrong.
Of the independent HVAC distributors, CE Florida is probably the largest. They distribute Carrier and Bryant to large volume dealers in Tampa as well as a fair amount of Payne and Bryant equipment to small and mid-size dealers in the bay area. Not only are the brands highly recognizeable but the combination covers low to high end purchasers nicely.
Another large independent distributor in Tampa with multiple locations is Gemaire. They carry recognizeable brands for central air conditioning equipment such as Rheem, Frigidaire and Maytag but also carry more specialized equipment such as First Company products, Mitsubishi Mini Splits and Marvair packaged products.
So far, we have covered more than 90% of Tampa's residential air conditioning market equipment sales but have more to mention. Florida Air Conditioning Distributors carries York. Tropic Supply carries Ruud equipment. Florida Cooling sells Comfortmaker and Coastline carries Tempstar. Victor in Clearwater had previously only carried supplies but has now introduced the Philco product line. Finally, American Standard products can be purchased through Ferguson.
Although it may feel overwhelming having to decide between so many brands but we reiterate the decision is not that important. Melo Air recommends to spend the most time researching the air conditioning contractor you trust the most to install the equipment. The contractor, not the manufacturer or brand, is going to have the greatest influence on the return on investment on a new air conditioning and heating system.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 11, 2013 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
HVAC warranties rarely look and feel the same among the various manufacturers. Not only can they be varying in duration: 5 years, 10 years, 12 years or even lifetime but the terms may also be much different. Some may replace an entire system if the compressor fails, or maybe the compressor only is warrantied for lifetime while the rest of the system is ten years for example. Warranty plays significant role on the amount of out of pocket expense a homeowner will face as a result of an HVAC system failure. Oddly enough, a longer warranty does not necessarily translate to less exposure throughout the life of one’s homeownership. We’ll examine what warranties hold value and warranties which may be more marketing hype.
The first thing to understand with an air conditioning equipment warranty is that they are typically always only a part warranty and the homeowner is still liable for labor expense. In other words, because a system is under warranty does not mean the owner is exempt from repair or maintenance costs. The greater costs between the parts and labor typically go to labor. This means that the homeowner is still responsible for the majority of costs associated with the repair even if the system is under warranty. The only way to avoid labor costs is to enter into a separate labor warranty contract. Under this contract, the manufacturer or warranty administrator will pay the labor portion of the repair. Increasingly, manufacturers are requiring detailed maintenance records and pre-approval before the contractor is able to repair the system. This is because bad bets have been made in the past and even one warranty administrator, Equiguard went bankrupt. Unscrupulous air conditioning contractors may have also submitted claims and repaired or replaced parts that had not actually failed.
A second thing to understand when deciding on which new air conditioner or heat pump to install when comparing warranties is minimum SEER. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 brought about new minimum efficiency requirements for many appliances. A later amendment, The Energy Policy Act of 1992, included central air conditioning and heating equipment and the requirement of 10 SEER minimum. Fourteen years later, the minimum efficiency was raised to 13 SEER in 2006. It would be highly unlikely that the government will ever force a homeowner to replace inefficient equipment, but it would make good fiscal sense to do so. A 13 SEER air conditioner will cost roughly $24 less per month to run than a 10 SEER air conditioner. If you’re buying minimum efficiency, length of warranty may be less important. Our energy saving’s tool can be used to determine savings on a new air conditioning system.
A third consideration also deals with government regulation. Many folks across the country have dealt with the R22 phaseout. Although someone may have a lifetime warranty on their central AC, law could in fact render it obsolete. Not if but when this happens, homeowners may be forced to choose solutions that aren’t recommended such as dry charged systems or face dangers by using alternative refrigerants. The only other option is to replace the existing system because many parts including coils and compressors are specific to refrigerant types used.
Homeowners in the Tampa area often replace their equipment before the warranty expires. This is because of the substantial amount of cooling hours throughout the year. Other challenges regarding warranty around the Tampa Bay area involves air conditioning in Clearwater. Elements and conditions such as sea salt corrosion may void a warranty and cause an owner to replace the system well under warranty expiration. Please contact the air conditioning experts at Melo Air for any questions regarding the warranty on your HVAC system. We do recommend to closely examine the terms of a warranty, particularly long lasting ones. Education is the only way to minimize buying more warranty than you need and identifying circumstances where you warranty may be voided.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 7, 2013 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
Earlier we had reported that Daikin mini splits were available in the United States, now homeowners around the Tampa Bay area as well as the rest of the United States will have another major brand of ducted air conditioner or heat pump to choose from when they install a new HVAC system in their home. This is the product of the Daikin (6367:Tokyo) acquisition of Goodman at the end of 2012 which introduces a new line of residential air conditioning and heating products into the United States. Although Daikin is headquartered in Osaka, Japan, the new line of equipment will be manufacturered in Goodman facilities located in Texas and Tennessee.
Daikin products will initially be distributed through limited, company owned Goodman locations and a number of independent distributors. Daikin recently announced their first independent distributor, Williams Distributing. Other distributors include Johnstone, which also has Daikin products listed on their website.
Taking a look at the Daikin product, it resembles current Goodman and Amana product lines. The louvers and wire grille top are the same orientation as Amana. It appears that as of right now the products are identical with the exception of paint color and label. Although the product is currently the same, Goodman has quietly announced internally that an inverter project is under way initially for the Daikin brand. We anticipate a high efficient, 18-20 SEER ducted product from Daikin in the spring of 2014 that will include inverter technology.
One difference we have identified when comparing Daikin to Goodman and Amana products is that the warranty has changed. Amana had previously led the industry with a lifetime unit replacement warranty in the event the compressor ever failed to the original owner. While the parts warranty has increased to 12 years, matching competitor Nordyne's warranty with Maytag, the unit replacement warranty has been reduced to just six years. This has caused a number of air conditioning contractors, including ourselves, to question whether the Amana warranty would remain in place.
Although new brands and products are exciting, we at Melo Air want to remind our visitors that contractor selection is the most important decision when replacing your HVAC system. Contact us today if you would like a quote on a new AC or HP installation or have questions regarding the benefits of replacing your air conditioning and heating system.
|Posted by AC Contractor on November 4, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
It is important to understand the limitations of cooling and heating equipment when weighing options to install a new central air conditioning and heating system. Without knowing what they are, it is possible one will experience discomfort in the future. Depending on location, there are some days your HVAC equipment will not reach the temperature setting on the thermostat. This is mostly influenced by the outside air temperature and personal habits. By looking at Tampa's average temperatures, one will see that there is reason to give thought to the type of system to install. The system will not only need to cool homes when temperatures are in excess of 90 degress regularly in the summer but will also need need to combat freezing temperatures in the winter.
The most important factor in determining the type of system to install is the results of the manual j load calculation. Equipment that is the correct size reduces energy use as well as maintenance and installation costs. Once the proper size has been determined, choices that remain would include whether to install a heat pump or air conditioner. Wholesale costs on a heat pump are usually a minimum of a couple hundred dollars higher than straight cool systems. There may be additional maintenance expenses and there are additional parts that can fail. The most expensive of these is the reversing valve. Not only can heat pumps trim 30-40% of electricity consumption but they can heat more than electric strip heat alone. Based off electric strip heat sizing, Tampa will produce a number of cold days that even the largest electric heating elements would have difficulty in maintaining an indoor temperature of just 65 degrees.
Although heat pumps heat more efficiently and effectively than electric resistance heat, they do have limitations. Supplemental heat is required when outside temperatures are lower than 40 degrees. Even using both the heat pump and electric strip heat simultaneously has limitations as well. When Tampa reaches it's coldest, many properly sized heat pumps may struggle to maintain an indoor temperature of 70 degrees.
Heat pumps are not alone with limitations as air conditioners are as well. This will be some bad news for those that like to keep their thermostat set between 68 and 72 degrees. When the weather is the hottest in Tampa, even properly sized systems may struggle to maintain 74-75 degrees. We recommend setting the thermostat at 78 degrees which provides optimum comfort at the best rate. Every degree lower than 78 substantially increases the utility bill.
Contact the experts at Melo Air if you're still not sure of the limitations of your HVAC equipment or are interested in recommendations on acquiring that additional heating or cooling that is needed.