Air Mechanical, Inc. Blog : Archive for August, 2011

What Is the Energy Star Label? A Question From Lino Lakes

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Any time you go out and buy any type of appliance in Lino Lakes, you probably notice that some have a distinct mark that signifies them as Energy Star appliances. That sounds like a good thing, of course, but what does it actually mean? Should you always buy an Energy Star model over another type?

The Energy Star label was originally developed to help consumers more easily recognize appliances that are more energy efficient than the average. In order to obtain an Energy Star seal of approval, any device must meet very strict guidelines when it comes to energy efficiency.

What that translates into for you as a consumer is a lower monthly energy bill when you buy Energy Star appliances. Of course, once they have obtained an Energy Star labels, manufacturers can charge whatever they want for their product, and it is not unusual to pay more for a model that is certified an Energy Star.

However, as long as the potential savings over time that you will get by using the Energy Star model as opposed to one that is not as energy efficient outweigh the difference in initial purchase price, it is worth it to spend a bit more on the Energy Star model.

Keep in mind, though, that just because a produce meets the Energy Star guidelines for energy efficiency does not necessarily mean that it is a superior product in terms of quality or overall effectiveness. Plus, not all Energy Star appliances are created equal. You should still do your research and pick out the product that will both save you the most money and has the best chance of getting the job done right.

Another benefit to Energy Star products is that, because they use less energy when they run, they also have a smaller impact on the environment than a model that uses a greater amount of energy to perform the same tasks.

Overall, it is definitely worth taking a closer look at all of the Energy Star options out there when you are purchasing an air conditioning system or any other type of appliance. Using less energy is always a good thing both for your bank account and for the planet. But you also want to make sure you are actually getting the best product for your money.

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Energy Efficient Home Cooling Tips in Fridley

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Having an energy efficient air conditioning system in place is a great way to keep cool this summer in Fridley for less. But that is far from the only thing you can do to help reduce your energy bills throughout the hottest months of the year. In fact, there are several simple steps you can take to start cutting down on your cooling costs right now and lighten the cooling load that your air conditioning system has to bear.

One of the main things to remember when you are trying to keep your house cool is that every door and window is potentially letting in warmer air from outside and letting the cooler indoor air escape. You can cut down on this considerably if you simply take the time to seal up these access points and any others you are able to find.

Putting up plastic over unused doors and windows and checking all areas of the house for drafts and adequate insulation will dramatically reduce the cost of keeping your house cool in the summer. Also, you can keep the sun from warming up your indoor air by drawing the blinds, particularly on those windows that let in the hot afternoon sun.

Putting up light colored siding and reflective roofing will also do a great deal to keep your overall cooling costs down. That is because these materials are able to direct the heat of the sun away from your house rather than letting it be absorbed so that it can heat up the inside. The vast majority of the heat that your air conditioning system has to remove from your house comes in through your roof and walls, so blocking this access point is extremely helpful in keeping your overall cooling costs down.

All of these are steps you can take to reduce the total cooling load that your air conditioning system has to deal with. But if you want your system to continue to function at peak energy efficiency, you will have to take care of it as well.

This typically means having someone come in once a year to perform a thorough inspection and maintenance of your air conditioning system and to clean out any debris that may have accumulated over time. Having this done will make it possible for your air conditioner to continue to function at the highest possible levels of energy efficiency for years to come.

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AC As a Safety Feature in the Home: A Pointer From Coon Rapids

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Ask a hundred people in Coon Rapids what the primary role of air conditioning is and I’ll bet you they say “comfort”. We seek out AC to stay cool and beat the summer heat, but did you know your air conditioning is a lot more than just a convenience – it is a safety feature in the midst of heavy heat waves.

Heat Is More than Just Uncomfortable

We tend to think of heat as this massive, uncomfortable inconvenience. In reality, it is quite dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control, heat waves killed 8,015 people between 1979-2003, more than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, earthquakes and floods combined in that time period.

Why is heat illness so dangerous? It comes on quickly and it’s easy to ignore the warning signs, especially when you are already uncomfortable. While hydration is important, the real risk occurs after you’ve become dehydrated – when your body can no longer keep itself cool. This is known as heat stroke and can lead to a number of life threatening conditions, especially for the elderly, infants and those with chronic conditions.

That’s where air conditioning comes in. On the CDC’s extreme heat preparedness webpage, air conditioning is listed as the number one preventative factor against heat related illness. Simply put – if you have an air conditioner, there is a much smaller chance you will get sick from the heat. Dehydration happens less frequently when you’re in an air conditioned environment, meaning that your body can regulate temperature internally and you feel comfortable – not a bad deal for a simple installation.

Staying Cool Is a Medical Necessity

Heat is more than just a direct threat. It addles the mind and makes your reaction times slower. In effect, by allowing your body to overheat, you put yourself at risk. Simple tasks like climbing a ladder or taking out the trash could result in an injury because you don’t have the energy or the mental clarity to perform them as you would on a normal day.

So, air conditioning is about a lot more than just staying comfortable – it’s a health issue. Especially if you have small children or elderly adults in the house or if anyone in your family has a medical condition like obesity, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, an air conditioning system is an absolute must during heat waves. To learn more about how air conditioning can keep you cool this summer, contact your AC contractor.

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Green Your Plumbing: A Tip From St. Louis Park

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

These days, “green plumbing” is getting increasing attention in St. Louis Park.

“Green plumbing” helps the environment by doing one or more of the following:

  • Saving water
  • Saving energy
  • Using environmentally-friendly materials

There are a wide range of green plumbing products that can make a big difference in how much water and energy your home uses. They range from simple accessories that cost less than $20 to major home remodels. Here are a few of them, ranging from the simple and immediate to larger investments with a longer-term payback.

  • Low-flow showerheads and faucet accessories (often called “aerators”). Check the side of your current faucet and showerhead to see if they use more than 1.5 GPM and 2.0 GPM, respectively. If they do, you can benefit from an upgrade. Look for the EPA WaterSense label to be sure that your new showerheads and faucet accessories are water-efficient.
  • Hot water heater blankets and pipe insulation.You don’t need to insulate your hot water heater and  pipes to prevent freezing, but doing it will save money, water, and energy, and (as a bonus) you’ll enjoy hotter showers in the winter. This is a simple DIY job and the materials are extremely affordable.
  • Touch-free faucets. When you’re not actively using them, touch-free faucets shut off. According to industry estimates, the result can be a water savings of up to 70%. Touch-free faucet technology has improved greatly in recent years, and sensors are now very reliable. If you like your current faucet and want to keep it, there are also touch-free faucet conversion kits.
  • Dual-flush toilets. As the name suggests, these toilets have two different flushes: a “half-flush” for liquid waste, and a “full flush” for solids. Dual-flush toilets are standard in many European countries and are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. because of their water-saving potential (up to 68% over conventional toilets) and sleek styling.
  • Sprinkler system upgrades. Much of the water from spray sprinkler systems evaporates. Trickle and drip irrigation systems can improve water efficiency by delivering smaller amounts of water directly to the base of the plant. Other products, such as pressure regulating spray heads and rotors and automatic rain sensors, can also save thousands of gallons a year. Another option is to re-use laundry waste water by diverting it into the garden. This can be a DIY project or can be built directly into your plumbing. Check with your local authorities to find out if this is permitted in your area.

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Scald Free Showers and Bathtubs: Scald Prevention Methods From Ramsey

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

One of the worst things that can happen to you in a shower is when a sudden blast of scalding hot water strikes you unexpectedly. This is a problem for many people and usually happens when someone turns on the cold water at another tap in your Ramsey house. When that occurs, the cold water that you were using to regulate the temperature in your bathroom becomes temporarily unavailable and the hot water takes over.

This usually does not last long, and even if it does, you will likely jump out of the way quickly. But for the moment you are underneath that scalding hot water, some serious damage can be done, particularly to older people or young children whose skin is not as thick as that of an average adult. Also, in trying to get out of the way of the hot water in a slippery bathtub, many people have accidentally fallen and injured themselves more seriously.

So what can be done about these sudden and unexpected blasts of hot water? Well, recent developments in shower and bathtub technology have made it possible for scald free shower and bathtub fixtures to reach the market. These products are designed to maintain a consistent temperature in your shower no matter what type of water or how much is being used elsewhere in the house.

These scald free showers can compensate for the dip in cold water pressure that occurs when someone flushes a toilet in another bathroom or turns on the water in the kitchen. This is accomplished by the addition of a diaphragm that can immediately adjust to any variations in either hot or cold water pressure. With this technology in place, you will never need to worry about being scalded in the shower again.

Of course, these scald free shower heads and bathtub fixtures can cost a bit more than their conventional counterparts. But they are well worth it, especially if scalding water is a problem in your shower on a regular basis. You need to be able to keep yourself and your family safe in the shower and scald free showers are the best way to do that.

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Cleaning Air Conditioners: A Tip From White Bear Lake

Friday, August 19th, 2011

One of the best things you can do to help maintain high indoor air quality in your White Bear Lake home is to clean your air conditioning system on a regular basis. While these systems make it possible to endured a long, hot summer with minimal discomfort, they can also become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and other indoor air contaminants that can make you sick or cause other types of problems.

Improving your indoor air quality isn’t the only reason you should worry about keeping your air conditioning system clean. A properly maintained air conditioner will function more efficiently for a longer period of time.

Air Filters

Changing or cleaning out your air filters regularly is one of the easiest and most important parts of air conditioner maintenance. These air filters are your number one line of defense against all manner of indoor air pollutants, but if they become saturated, they can no longer do their job. Fortunately, changing out these filters is a quick and easy job. Just mark the date on your calendar so you don’t forget.

Ducts

Without the system of air ducts that run through your home, your air conditioner wouldn’t be able to circulate all that cool air. But they’re also a very attractive place for dust, pollen, mold and other indoor air contaminants to collect. Unfortunately, the majority of your ductwork occupies space behind walls, beneath floors and in other equally inaccessible areas of your home.

For that reason, it’s generally necessary to have a professional with specialized equipment come out and clean your ducts once a year. By keeping up with maintenance, you can be sure that your air ducts aren’t harboring dangerous contaminants that your air conditioning system can then spread throughout your home.

Cooling Coils

The cooling coil is another part of your air conditioning system that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. If your cooling coil is dirty, it won’t actually affect your indoor air quality, but it will impede your air conditioner’s ability to function effectively. The more sediment and debris allowed to build up on your air conditioner’s cooling coil, the less efficiently it will cool the air that passes over it. And if it can’t cool the air properly, your air conditioner will have to work overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home.

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How Does Geothermal Energy Work? A Question From Stillwater

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Geothermal energy is energy extracted from the ground, in Stillwater or anywhere. This energy is in the ground in the first place because the ground absorbs the heat coming from the sun. This heat is always there, even when it is very cold outside. In fact, even when the ground appears to be frozen, you can actually extract plenty of heat to keep your home nice and toasty.

While this may at first appear to defy logic, the way that geothermal energy can be used for heating your home is actually quite simple. A geothermal heating system typically consists of an indoor air handler with a fan, a series of air ducts for the heated air to travel through and a closed loop of pipe that extends into the ground below and around your home.

This closed loop of pipe is actually where the geothermal heat is collected. Some type of liquid, usually water or antifreeze, will be continuously run through this pipe loop. As the liquid passes through the area of pipe that is below ground, it will absorb the heat from the surrounding soil. Once the liquid makes it back up to the air handler, the heat is able to disperse, heating the air in the chamber.

This heated air is then circulated throughout your house through the ducts by a fan. After it has released its heat into the air in your home, the liquid will cycle back into the ground to absorb more. This allows a geothermal heating system to provide you with a constant supply of warm air.

Unlike a furnace, which mixes in blasts of very hot air with periods of inactivity to try and keep your house at a constant temperature, a geothermal heat pump is able to provide a more consistent flow of air that is just the right temperature to keep your home comfortable. This means that these types of heat pumps are running just about all of the time as opposed to furnaces, but they are designed to work this way and the constant operation does not cause any excessive wear and tear.

Another great benefit of geothermal heat pumps is that they are able to keep your house cool in the summer as well. Just as the ground is warmer than the air in the winter, it is also cooler in the summer. That means that heat removed from your indoor air can be transferred to the ground in the same way that it was transferred in during the winter.

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Why Install a Ductless Air Conditioner? A Question From Wazata

Monday, August 15th, 2011

As you explore your options in terms of a new home air conditioning system in Wazata, you will probably have to decide whether you want a system that uses ducts to get the cooled air around the house or one that is considered ductless. Each type of air conditioning system is appropriate in certain situations, so it is important to understand the benefits of each before you can make a decision.

Duct air conditioning systems are the more traditional type on the market today. They generally consist of an outdoor compressor and condenser unit and an indoor air handler. The outdoor unit passes the cooled air through ducts to the air handler, which then takes over circulating the air through the house and back out to the condenser again.

It makes sense to install this type of air conditioning system if you have a large house or if you have ducts already in place. Duct air conditioners can cool a moderate to large sized house quite effectively and they can also be coupled with zone control systems to give you multiple climate zones within your house.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not rely on a system of air ducts to get cooled air distributed throughout your house. Instead, these types of systems use refrigerant lines to transfer coolant from the outdoor compressor to the indoor, wall mounted units. Each of these indoor units can take care of cooling one or two rooms, but in order to cool an entire house with one of these systems, you will need to install multiple indoor units.

However, these multiple indoor units can all be connected to the same outdoor compressor, and they can also be controlled independently. That gives you much greater control over which parts of your house are cooled and how much energy you are using to cool areas that may or may not be occupied.

Ductless air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than ducted ones, but their real advantage comes from the facts that they can be installed even in places where air ducts do not exist or cannot go. If you do not already have ductwork in your house, installing a duct system will add considerably to the price of installing a ducted air conditioning system. In a case like this, a ductless system is much easier and cheaper to install and certainly makes more sense.

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How to Reduce the Load on Your Central Air Conditioner: A Tip From Fridley

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Your central air conditioner can handle a lot. It can keep your Fridley house cool and comfortable all summer long with only a minimum of maintenance. And if you have a newer, more energy efficient model, you probably are not even paying very much for this luxury. But no matter how good your air conditioning system is, it is always best if you can reduce its cooling load as much as possible.

Cutting down on the amount of work your central air conditioner has to do will save you money both in the short term and in the long term. You will be able to keep your house cool all summer while paying even less than you already do and you will help to extend the life of your system as well.

In general, reducing the cooling load that your air conditioner is responsible for involves keeping your house cooler by some other means. One great option when this is your goal is to have some ceiling fans installed. These help to circulate cool air and also create a breeze that can make it feel cooler even if the actual indoor temperature is the same.

With adequate ceiling fans in place, you will usually be able to turn up the thermostat on your central air conditioner and still be completely comfortable indoors. Turning up the temperature on the thermostat means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard because it will not have to get the indoor temperature down so low.

You can also reduce the indoor temperature in your house by blocking the sunlight that comes in and warms up the indoor air. Drawing the blinds, especially in those rooms that receive warmer afternoon sunlight will keep that sun from raising your indoor temperature. This, in turn, means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard to get the temperature back down.

You can also help to keep cool air inside and warmer air out by covering any doors and windows you are not likely to use with plastic. Also, check to make sure there are no cracks or drafts anywhere that may be letting in air from the outside or allowing cooler indoor air to escape. All of these things can make it possible for your air conditioner to keep your home cool without working so hard, and that will also mean that you will be paying less each month on your energy bills.

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The Advantages of an Air Conditioning System in East Bethel

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Just about everyone knows that air conditioning systems keep your East Bethal home’s indoor environment cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. While this may be enough of a benefit for you, there are also some other benefits to having a central air conditioning system installed in your house as well.

For instance, if you have someone in your household who is more susceptible to extreme temperatures than most people, an air conditioning system can actually help improve their overall health. Babies certainly fall into this category, as they have more difficulty than older children or adults do controlling their body temperature.

Also, many elderly people or people suffering from certain medical conditions, particularly heart conditions, are especially sensitive to the heat. If they are unable to stay cool, it can be very dangerous and damaging to their health, and an air conditioning system helps to guarantee that they will be able to stay cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

Aside from direct health concerns, air conditioning systems can also help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. They do this by controlling the level of humidity inside your home. If the air in your house is too moist or too dry, it can exacerbate cold and allergy symptoms, as well as dry out skin and make the indoor environment generally uncomfortable.

Proper humidity control is also important because it helps to ensure that any air filtration or purification system you have in place is able to operate at peak efficiency. Many of these units have a hard time extracting particulate contaminants from the indoor air that circulates through them if that air is too humid or too dry. With a state of the art air conditioning system in place, however, you will not have to worry about whether or not the humidity level in your home is out of balance.

It is also worth noting that a central air conditioning system can be preferable to a window mounted unit because it provides for a more even distribution of cool air throughout the house. Also, when you have a central air conditioning system, the condenser which is the source of most of the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make will be located outside and out of earshot. With window mounted units, on the other hand, there is really no way to block out or diminish the noise.

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