Heating and cooling your home can be a real challenge when you consider the design of the homes architecture, the landscape around the home, and the AC system itself. There is an incredible amount of attention to detail that goes into all three phases of efficiency planning for heating and cooling your home in the most cost effective and energy efficient manner.
Every day, technological breakthroughs make it easier to find ways to improve your AC energy use and the productivity of your system.
When you design your home or are installing an entirely new AC system, the layout of the house will dictate most of how the system is networked. If you have an AC system in your home and it seems like your house is never the same temperature throughout you should take a comprehensive look at how your AC system is installed.
Most houses in Florida, for instance, do not have a basement level to the house. This is because events such as hurricanes, thunderstorms, and flooding are frequent. For this reason, there is no crawl space under homes in Florida to route AC ducts like some homes do in the more northern states and the underside of mobile homes. The advantage of running the ducts underneath is the air underneath the floor is cooler than the sun heated attic. What happens in Florida is the ducts are run through the attic and the transference of heat delivers warmer air out the vents than what the system produced.
There can be severe differences of up to five or more degrees if the ductwork is not insulated, made of the wrong material, or has any puncture damages. You can expect a couple degree change in the air temperature in a duct that stretches across the width of the house in an attic that is over one hundred and ten degrees for most days. It is critical to make sure the ducts do not have unnecessary exposure to attic heat, has lots of twists and turns, or any kinks.
The flow of air should be uninterrupted and unrestricted with the shortest route possible. If you look and see your duct coiled up with excess piping then there is a greater drop in air temperature from the air handler to the vent than is necessary. Keep short and straight routes as best you can.
Keeping the floors, walls, and ceiling of your wall cool are ways to help make your AC work less. The attic fan helps with the ceiling which reduces ceiling to wall heat transference also. Walls can be made in a variety of ways, but in Florida there are typically a couple layers. On the outside of the home there is usually a layer of concrete brick blocks cemented together while the inside of the home is framed with 2 X 4’s and covered with drywall. There may not be brick all around the home, and exteriors can be different from house to house, but the aforementioned description is the most typical for newer home constructions.
Design your home with the sun in mind and place your windows accordingly. Know where the sun rises and sets and how it will move across your home with the passing of the day. If you are able to centrally locate your AC system so that all rooms are somewhat equidistant from the unit it will be easier to keep the entire home at one temperature instead of just the room with the thermometer. Know how your home is designed and understand that having all doors closed makes AC units work harder. AC systems depend on the movement of air to quickly reduce the temperature of the air in the whole house.
Would you believe that your landscape can determine how hard your AC unit has to work? To a degree, a rightly designed landscape can act as a natural barrier to direct sunlight in the summer and an open window to the sunshine in the winter. Naturally, direct sunlight warms the home and puts your AC to work.
Planting shade trees at a close enough distance to shield the house will be immediately beneficial in keeping the wall temperatures down. The test is simple, stand in front of your window with the blinds open in direct sunlight and feel the heat yourself. Now go outside and hang a curtain outside the window and feel the immediate difference. Using a leafy tree to do the same service as the curtain will add an insulation layer to protect your home from the sun. Choosing a tree that loses its leaves in the winter and allows the light to pass through and will let the heat supplement your heating system. It is truly a winning strategy for planning your landscape.
The AC Unit
Try to put your external coolant system on the shady side of the house away from weather conditions and heat. The AC system does not need to work against its own heat in an effort to cool the home. Keep your unit cool and serviced with clean filters to prevent overworking the system. A regular inspection and maintenance of your system is vital. Early detection of problems will reduce costs and prevent the system from slowly deteriorating with incremental losses to productivity.
Home building is a business that requires builders to meet codes and specifications. While specifications do not always spell everything out, they do dictate many building standards that vary from one area to the next. Builders get their jobs through a process and in order to maximize profits they will be superb at achieving the minimum standards. Your AC unit may be just big enough for the square footage of your house. Ask a professional what type of system should be used for the volume of your home and see if you have a below standard or barely minimal standard sized unit. You can plan everything down to the right thickness of the glass panes, but if you do not have a big enough unit, expect problems.
Air Conditioning units are very complex and require skilled and trained technicians. From planning and design of your home and the landscape an AC professional like Bob Heinmiller should be consulted in the product before final approval of the plans. Rely on an experienced professional to help you look to the best plan, and your rewards will be great. You will both save money through lower bills and extend the life of your unit while enjoying the perfect temperature of your home.
The writer, Ray Donato, is a freelance writer who tends to focus on the work he does around the house to keep everything as comfortable as humanly possible. If you’re interested in learning more about Ray you can visit on Google+.