Q. What is HVAC?
HVAC is short for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This abbreviation is often used to refer to your whole heating and cooling system.
The most common central cooling system is a split system, which includes an outdoor cabinet containing a condenser coil and compressor, and an indoor evaporator coil, usually installed in conjunction with your furnace or air handler. The compressor pumps a chemical called refrigerant through the system.
Q. How does it work?
The warm air inside your home blows across the indoor evaporator coil and the heat energy from the air transfers to the refrigerant inside the coil. Think of the refrigerant like a sponge, absorbing the heat from the air. As a result, the air is now “cool”. The cooler air is circulated back through the home providing comfort. The refrigerant is pumped back to the compressor where the heat absorbed by the refrigerant is released and cycle begins again. Moisture that contributes to humidity is also condensed out of the air.
Your cooling system is usually combined with your central heating system because they share the same ductwork for distributing conditioned air throughout your home.
Q. What is Central Heating?
Central heating systems have a primary heating appliance, such as a furnace, typically located in your basement or attic. All furnaces consist of four main components:
- Burners that deliver and burn fuel,
- Heat exchangers,
- A blower and
- A flue that acts as an exhaust for gaseous by-products.
Depending on your situation, region and needs, you can choose from heating systems running on either gas or oil as fuel, or a hybrid packaged system that can use both fuel types.
Q. How does Central Heating work?
Combustion gases are generated by the burners in your furnace and passed over a heat exchanger. Air from your home blows across the heat exchanger to be warmed. It is then blown through a system of ducts to distribute around your home.
During warm seasons your heating system works with your central air conditioning. Air is cooled as it’s blown over your air conditioning unit’s cooling coil, often attached to the exhaust of the furnace, and then sent over the same air ducts throughout your home. An independent American Standard dealer can help you decide which central cooling and heating system is right for you. American Standard matched systems can be customized with cooling and heating units that match your situation and let you choose from a range of energy efficiency.
Q. Should I repair or replace?
This is always a difficult a decision. On one hand you don’t want to spend money on a new system, but on the other hand, you don’t want to throw good money after bad. Which way should you go? It really boils down to the condition and age of the air conditioning system.
If you have been keeping your equipment properly maintained by a licensed air conditioning technician, then perhaps the current repair is isolated to a single, simple problem and not indicative of a major or potentially recurring issue. In this case it might make sense to repair and fix the problem. However, with any equipment it is important to consider its efficiency and the impact that wear and tear has on that efficiency and on your monthly electric bill.
Q. What does SEER or Efficiency matter?
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rates the efficiency of an air conditioning unit. A unit somewhere around 10 years old would probably have been an 8 SEER unit at time of purchase. Over time this unit will wear down and operate somewhere around the 5-6 SEER level. The higher the SEER rating, the higher the efficiency of the unit. In 2006 the minimum SEER rating for an Air Conditioning unit was raised to 13 SEER. Upgrading to a newer Air Conditioning unit is surprisingly affordable based on the efficiency level of modern equipment. The money saved on your electric bill from upgrading will pay for the unit itself. So transitioning from an 8 SEER unit to a new 18 SEER unit will allow better performance at your current budget.
Q. Should I Finance?
Monthly finance charges never sound like a good thing. What if there was a way to stick with your current budget and have a brand new A/C Unit? Well using a higher SEER unit this is a very real possibility. The amount of savings generated from your lower monthly electric bill could very well take care of any finance charge. Imagine – a cooler house, with a better unit, at your current budget.