A: ENERGY STAR is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. It identifies homes and more than 40 types of products and services that meet strict guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). With ENERGY STAR, consumers can save energy and money without sacrificing performance.
Q: What do rating numbers mean?
A: To help consumers make informed choices, the U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating is meant to reflect the percentage of energy used efficiently. A high rating indicates high efficiency. There are various names for the efficiency ratings of varying types of equipment. Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. Heat pump equipment is rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. Gas furnaces are rated according to their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE.
Q: Can shrubs and flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?
A: Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 18 inches from the unit. This allows plenty of room for air circulation in and out of the unit. Without this room for air circulation, the unit could overheat, resulting in a premature need for service.
Q: What does "Going Green" mean with newer air conditioners?
A: In 2010 air conditioners using the most common R-22 refrigerant will no longer be manufactured. The new R-410a refrigerant will take it's place. R-410a has zero ozone depletion so it is better for us and the environment. Small quantities of R-22 will be produced until 2020 to service existing equipment. If you are shopping for a new cooling and heating system it is recommended that you purchase the newer R-410a system.
A: Typically filters should be replaced or cleaned every 30 days. Filters help keep your duct system, motor, coil and air cleaner. A good way to remember to check and change your filter is when you get your monthly electric bill. If you don't change your filter, your electric bill could increase.
Q: At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
A: There is no certain temperature that will meet everyone's comfort level. The system is designed to maintain 70 degrees inside when the outside temperature is 10 degrees in the winter. It is also designed to maintain 75 degrees when it is 95 degrees outside. Power companies recommend you keep it between 76 - 78 for energy conservation. We suggest you set the temperature to your comfort level.
Q: Should a thermostat be set to "auto" or "on"?
A: When the thermostat is set to "auto," the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used setting. However, there are advantages to using the “on” setting. First of all, the air in the house is constantly filtered through the unit’s air filter. Secondly, the constantly circulating air results in an even temperature throughout the house. However, the "on" position will result in higher humidity since air is being blown over wet coils after the condenser shuts off. For Northwest Florida, the "auto" position will yield the driest home.
Q: My electric bill is high. Will a new air conditioner or heat pump lower my bills?
A: Yes, a new 14 SEER air conditioner could save you as much as 50% on your operating costs. 14 SEER is the minimum efficiency standard allowed by law. Depending on your current operating costs, higher efficiency systems could save you even more.
Q: If an outdoor unit needs replacing, should the indoor unit be replaced, too?
A: It is a good idea to replace the entire system when an air handler or condenser needs to be replaced. The efficiency rating is based on the entire system. To gain the maximum benefit of new, highly efficient technology, the entire system should be replaced together. Some warranties will not cover a mixed system, or their coverage will be greatly reduced.