What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

04 June 2011

Climate Control, Revisited.

The climate control in your house, that is. Last week I posted about saving energy by setting the thermostat to a reasonable temp, raising that temperature when you aren't at home, etc., etc. Waaaay back in the dim and distant past, I also blogged about a high school friend who I called Alex (as previously mentioned, not her real name). In real life, Alex has a serious job as a Heating and Air Conditioning expert, so when she saw that I was blogging about air conditioning, she brought some wise words to the table. So, with her permission (and with some begging for her to share her wisdom about heaters, too, since I do have readers who are coming into winter right now), here's what she said. That's right; this isn't my crazed speculation or something I saw on Google once; this is real, live expert advice.

You are absolutely correct to turn the temperature up when you aren't home. However, there is a limit to how much warmer the thermostat should be turned up. We recommend not turning it more than 7-10 degrees warmer than the temperature you would desire when you are home. Otherwise, the unit will end up running longer than to cool that 10+ degrees than it would have if it had been left at the original temperature all day.
A couple of tips for extra energy efficiency: Change the filter. A dirty filter is not only hard on the indoor blower motor, while decreasing air flow, it also affects the outdoor condenser. It allows liquid freon to be carried back to the compressor (instead of vapor), damaging the compressor.
Also, to save a bit on the electric bill, wash the outside condenser every month or 2 during the a/c season! The a/c sucks in air from the sides (along with dirt and debris) and blows it out the top, cooling the unit. Spray it out with a hose and wash the dirt and debris out of the "fins". Doesn't matter if the unit is running, it is made to take some water. The cooler it runs, the less energy it uses.
Lastly, make sure it is actually cooling properly! It is going to use the same amount of electricity when it runs whether it cools the house or not. At the outside unit, there are 2 copper lines. When the unit is running, the larger line should be cool and sweating. Never frosted. If not, it is probably low on freon. Also, if you have a thermometer, check the air temperature at a return air register, then at a supply air register. It should be cooling the air at least 15 degrees. Anything less than that - call a repairman.

Since I have no clue what a return air register or a supply air register are, I asked, and she said:

The return air register in my apartment.
As you can plainly see, I tried the
paper test. It works.
It varies from house to house. Some have supply in the floor and return in the ceiling, others have the opposite. Some have just one or 2 large return air vents and then a supply duct or 2 to each room. Someone could use a strip of paper to figure out which is which - air blows at the supply duct and sucks at the return.

You might be looking for something like this picture.

As for heaters: Change the filter and turn down the thermostat. Those are about the only easy Do-It-Yourself things. I highly recommend having any heater checked by an HVAC tech at the start of the season. We do more than "clean" it. We check safety controls, make sure it lights properly, and most importantly, check the heat exchanger for damage. No one wants Carbon Monoxide poisoning! Electric furnaces should be checked too!

There you have it! I don't have any particular question to ask today; just tell us what your weather is like! And where you are, I suppose, so it all makes sense.


Anonymous said...

It is 9:54 am here in southwestern ontario and we are in the midst of a thunderstorm. It is so dark you need lights on. We have had some warm days at the beginning of the week. The ac ran for about a day and a half and then temps settled down so we turned it off. We tend to not use it very much. Only if the humidity gets bad.

Carole Anne Carr said...

My friend Paddy in Atlanta tells me it is 95 degrees. Here in the UK we have 58 and it's summer. :0)

JEFritz said...

Up on the east coast, it's warm and sunny without being humid--one of those perfect weather days. Time to enjoy it!

Su said...

@mybabyjohn: I think I would take the thunderstorm-- goodness knows we need the rain! Glad you're getting some warm days, though!

@Carole Anne: I miss Scotland, but I don't miss the not-warm days in the summer. I'll do my best to send you some warmer temps!

@JE: Yay!!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We're having perfect weather for a few days. Mid 70's during the day and low 50's at night. No need for AC and lovely sleeping with the windows open so I wake up to birdsong in the morning.

Raising Marshmallows said...

It's cold and raining here. I'm begining to wonder if we will get to use our air conditioning at all this summer. Dang global warming!

Su said...

@Susan: Nice!

@Raising Marshmallows: Dangit, I hate when the Global Warming breaks.

Jenny said...

HOT as all blazes here in West GA (Just outside of Atlanta). I was out in it all day. In Regency Era costume. Have to be out in it again tomorrow, but will be changing out the costume for a logo-ed shirt and skirt. Too hot!!!!! LOL

Su said...

Yikes! They tell me Atlanta is much ickier than Austin, which is hard to imagine, so... wow.